Running Shoe Terminology Part 2

Running Shoe Terminology Part 2

Part two in our series unravelling the terms and “techno speak” of some sales assistants in specialist running shops and arming you with the relevant information on buying new running shoes.

Insole: The insert that goes in your shoe and sits at the bottom of it. These are usually removable and now feature an increasing numbers of technologies to do everything from aiding fit, cushioning and preventing smells.

Last: The shape of the shoe. The ‘last’ used to shape the inside of the shoe’s upper affects the fit. The ‘last’ can also refer to the shape of the outside of the shoe, in particular the outsole and midsole. A straighter last is more stable but less responsive.

Lateral: The outside edge of your foot or shoe. The side your little toe is on.

Low Arch: If you have a ‘flat foot’ it shows you have a low arch. Get your feet wet and then leave a footprint on a tiled floor. Your foot print will show almost the whole sole of your foot with the band between heel and forefoot almost the full width of your foot. Low arches usually indicate your feet are prone to over-pronation.

Lugs: The rubber bumps or tread on the outsole that help give grip. Bigger lugs help grip on softer ground.

Medial: The inside edge of your foot or shoe. The side your big toe is on.

Medial post: This is a measure used to help prevent over-pronation. By putting a piece of firmer material along the medial side of a shoe it helps to reduce excessive rolling over to the inside.

Midfoot: The section of your foot of the shoe between the forefoot and heel.

Midfoot shank: A unit put in the midfoot area of a shoe’s midsole that helps to support and guide the midfoot.

Midfoot striker: A runner who has a stride that means their heel and forefoot land at the same time.

Midsole: The part of a shoe between the upper and the outsole. The midsole is the main determining factor in how much cushioning and stability a shoe gives and is where many of the key technologies and features are.

Motion control shoe: A very stable running shoe which has cushioning and support features designed for heavier big runners or those with more severe problems with over-pronation.

Neutral: A runner with a foot which follows the movements it should without excessive pronation. This type of runner should wear a neutral shoe (also called a cushioning shoe).

Neutral shoes: A shoe that is designed for neutral runners, not over-pronators. (Over-pronators should wear support shoes). It does not have extra support features. Note: a support or stability shoe may offer as much cushioning as a ‘neutral’ shoe. The difference is that the support shoe also has stability features.

Outsole: The bottom of the shoe. The unit, usually made of rubber, that comes into contact with the ground to give you grip.

Over-pronation: When your foot rolls excessively inwards as you run. This leads to increased rotational and twisting forces that can cause injuries. When you run it is normal for your foot to land on the outside of the heel. The foot then rolls for the forefoot and inside of the foot to also come into contact with the ground as the arch collapses to absorb shock. Over-pronation is when your foot rolls too far.

Plantar Fascia: The plantar fascia is a very strong, thick, broad, band of fibrous tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot. It is joined at the heel bone and then spreads out to join across the ball of your foot. The plantar fascia supports the arch of the foot and also helps the foot to act as a lever.

Plantar Fasciitis: A condition where the plantar fascia becomes inflamed or irritated.

Pronation: The inward rolling of your foot from the subtalar joint as you run. When you run it is normal for your foot to land on the outside of the heel. The foot then rolls for the forefoot and inside of the foot to also come into contact with the ground as the arch collapses to absorb shock. This rolling movement is called pronation.

Rear-foot: The back of your foot from the back of the heel through to the arch.

Responsiveness: The extent to which a shoe is light and flexible, allowing you to get a good feel for the ground and to push the pace.

Ride: The feel of a shoe as you run and your foot moves from one stage of your gait into the next. A good shoe should have a smooth feel with one part of your foot’s motion flowing comfortably and imperceptibly into the next.

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