Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Do you know what your shoes are made out of?

So, have you ever been talking to a friend or reading an article that talks about uppers or outsoles and been lost at what they are talking about.  Comtetitor.com came up with a great article (click here) that explains it all.  I have combined their multiple slides into one post for your viewing pleasure.


The Upper:
This is the top of the shoe, typically made of mesh, which cinches your foot into the shoe.  Some winter shoes are made of Gore-Tex to keep the water out while letting the shoe breathe.  You can find uppers that have very little material and some that are rather thick.

The Heel Counter:
This can vary in stiffness depending on the type of shoe you have, but it typically is somewhat stiff and holds the heel of the shoe in its proper shape. The heel counter can either be found inside the shoe or outside.

The Heel Crash Pad:
This is a cushioned area under your heel that aids in taking some of the impact if you heel strike.  Some shoes have more of a crash pad than others, so take that into consideration when buying shoes.

Heel-Toe Offset:
This is the difference in the height of your toes from the ground and the distance of your heel from the ground.  If your shoe had 22mm of cushion under your toes and 25mm of cushion under your heel, that would be a 3 mm offset.  Brands like Altra, Topo Athletic, and Skora offer a zero-drop meaning that your toes and heel are equal distance from the ground.  This puts your body in a better alignment, but it can take some getting used to.  If you are a heel striker, a larger heel drop might provide a little more protection.

The Midsole:
This is the cushioning that provides you with protection, stability and comfort on your runs. Most companies have different materials that they use to achieve a lighter shoe or more comfort.  Asics uses gel while some other companies use foam or air.  You can find minimalist shoes with very little cushion or max cushioned shoes like Hoka One One and some Altra shoes that have tons of cushion.  It really comes down to what works best for you.

The Outsole:
This is the bottom of the shoe, the part that takes the most punishment.  The outsole provides traction and this is one of the areas of the shoe that will wear out the quickest.  Most shoes use some sort of rubber or harder material in this area.  Some companies only put rubber in some areas of the outsole and leave the midsole exposed in other areas.

The Sockliner:
This is also called the insole.  It is often times removable and can be replaced with insoles like Superfeet.  The sockliner is typically made out of fabric and foam.  Many companies use an antimicrobial coating to reduce smells and bacterial growth.

The Toe Spring:
This is located at the front of the shoe and arches upward.  This allows you to get more toe-off and push off a little better than if you had a flat shoe.  Hoka One One has a Meta Rocker design that allows you to have more of a flow in your gait, making it easier for your foot to roll from heel strike to toe off.

The Toe Box:
This is the area that covers your toes and protects them.  Some shoes have rubber covering the front of the shoe for protection while others use a light weight mesh that is more breathable and weighs less.  Trail running shoes tend to have more protection than road shoes.

The Tongue:
We all know what this is.  It is the fabric that rests between your laces and the top of your foot.  Some tongues are gusseted, meaning that they are attached all the way up the sides of the tongue.   This reduces the likelihood of dirt or rocks from making their way into your shoe from the tongue area.  A gusseted tongue is important for trail runners, but isn’t as necessary for road runners.

I had no idea what components made up my running shoes when I first started.  I remember going into the running store and felt like they were speaking another language.  Competitor.com put out a great article with pictures.  If you have specific questions on what features would be best for your type of running, please send me a comment and I will do my best to help you out.

Information and pictures are the property of competitor.com.

1 comment:

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