A running shoe typically consists of seven major components: the upper, midsole, outsole, tongue of the shoe, heel counter, toe box, and last.
To choose the best pair of running shoes, you must consider the specific features and properties of each component of the shoe, each of which serves a specific purpose.
1. The upper
The upper, which is the area of the shoe above the midsole that encloses the foot, keeps the shoe in place, and guards against dirt, rocks, and the elements, is held together by the laces.
It is often manufactured from a variety of materials, such as knits for a smooth, chafe-free feel, synthetic leather for toughness, and mesh for ventilation.
Make sure the upper of the shoe you choose fits your feet’s shape and size comfortably.
In the long run, this may provide your feet more stability.
2. The shoe’s tongue
The tongue is a distinct strip on the upper that shields the tops of the feet from the laces’ pressure and keeps them from rubbing against the insteps of the feet.
A suitable tongue should be thick enough (or well-padded) to shield the tops of the feet from pressure from the laces and of an adequate size so that it does not rub against the foot just above the ankles.
The tongue serves a variety of purposes for shoe manufacturers as well.
3. The heel counter
The heel counter, an exoskeleton made of rigid materials that wraps around and encircles the heel, can be found on the back of the shoe.
This rigid heel structure offers a more secure fit, superior cushioning, rotational control, and a reduction in Achilles tendon irritation.
4. The last
The foot-shaped, three-dimensional mold used to create the shoe’s final shape is referred to as the last.
Consider it the foot model over which a shoe is put together.
Lasts can be semi-curved, curved, or straight.
Theoretically, some lasts work best with specific foot anatomical structures.
A straight last’s tendency to be heavier and offer greater support beneath the arch and may help to moderate the excessive inward collapsing motion that occurs after a foot strike.
Because of this, overpronators—typically runners with flat feet—often endorse them.
It is lighter and less supporting to use a curved last. They are therefore frequently advised for supinators, who are normally very high-arched runners.
The hybrid semi-curved last is not nearly as thick as the straight kind but still provides plenty of support under the arch.
5. The toe box
The area that encloses the biggest portion of the toes and feet is known as the toe box, which is located on the front platform of your shoes.
The toe box is, by far, the most crucial component in getting a good fit.
Running shoes should have a glove-like fit, with no pinching or constriction in the toe box.
The feet shouldn’t feel at all gripped and the toes shouldn’t touch the inside of the front of the shoes.
The mechanics of your movement may be hampered, resulting in black toenails, pain, and poor performance, if the toe box is too small or there is not enough space between your longest toe and the front of the toe box.
Make sure you have room for your toes to fit properly when breaking in a shoe.
The toe box needs enough room for the toes to move around freely and for the feet to swell while running.
Basically, you should be able to use your toes to play the piano.
The ideal distance between your longest toe and the tip of your toe box should be equal to the breadth of your thumb.
Additionally, check that your toes can easily fit inside the shoe box.
6. The midsole
The thick technical foam or rubber layer sandwiched between the upper and the outsole is known as the midsole, which is located lower on the shoe.
The midsole is primarily responsible for cushioning and shock absorption.
There are various types of midsole.
EVA, which is an acronym for ethylene vinyl acetate, is the most widely utilized midsole foam in running shoes. EVA is a softer substance and it feels lighter and more cushioned. However, it quickly breaks down and compresses, losing rebound after repeated hit.
Polyurethane (PU), on the other hand, is heavier, typically stiffer, and more expensive. It is far more durable with little to no deformation.
Besides EVA and PU, some high-tech midsoles are created with non-foam technology like airbags or GEL.
7. The outsole
The part of your trainers that makes contact with the ground and provides grip and durability is called the outsole. It is the threaded layer of rubber on the bottom of your shoes.As a result, this area of the shoes exhibits the most wear and tear.
The majority of outsoles contain traction-enhancing treads, flexible multidirectional flex grooves, and protection against pebbles, dirt, etc.
The most common materials for outsoles are carbon rubber, blown rubber, or a combination of the two. Each of these materials provides a particular level of grip and durability.
For a strong pair, runners can choose outsoles composed of carbon rubber (same material as tires). Carbon is more resilient than blown rubber, but it’s also stiffer and heavier.
Blown rubber outsoles are what you require if flexibility and a “softer feel” are your top priorities in a shoe. These are more flexible and cushioned than carbon rubber, but they are not as strong as carbon rubber.