54 Running Shoe Parts & Terms – Structure, Components, Materials & Functions Explained

Running Shoe Parts

It usually shocks new runners because there is more to picking the correct running shoe than shopping online or walking into the store, finding a preferred color scheme and the right shoe size. There are several running shoes for all different runners, terrain conditions, and foot issues.

Running shoes are quality-checked using a process put together by the Shoe and Allied Trades Research Association. Imperfections include stitching errors, poor lasting, and incomplete cement bonding are tested.

Running shoe manufacturing technology has changed over the last few years. Modern shoe designers concentrate on anatomy and running motion (gait). Running shoes are made from a combination of materials. Each component is engineered to do a particular purpose and work in balance with each other.

Knowing that choosing the wrong shoe could result in soreness and injury might confuse beginners. Also, jargon thrown around when going over a running shoe can be challenging.

So let me make it clear to you. First, we’ve got different running shoe parts. Then, we go over some of the commonly related terms.

Before choosing a new pair of running shoes, it is useful to know about the different parts and key terms.

Below is a list of common running shoe parts.

Components of a Running Shoe

The running shoe has two main parts: the upper, which covers the sides and top of the foot, and the sole unit (bottom of the shoe), which includes the midsole and the outsole.

The Upper

The upper is everything on the sole, which wraps around your foot, defining the shoe’s outline.

Parts of Running Shoe's Upper

It encloses the feet, protecting against dirt, rocks, stones, and various other elements, and getting the footwear in place. It was previously created from stitched and meshed fabric. Modern running shoes’ uppers are made of synthetic leathers such as artificial suede or nylon weave with boards supporting the shoe shape or plastic slabs. In addition, there might be a nylon overlay or a leather overlay with attachments.

Below are elements of the upper.

  • The toe box: Running shoes’ front space that wraps your toes.
  • The Vamp: A piece of material shapes the toe box and adds a unique form to the footwear.
  • The mudguard: The shoe pattern on the front of the shoe along the outsole’s edge.
  • Feather edge: The part of the shoe which forms the edge where the mudguard meets the shoe’s sole.
  • Tongue: A strip on the top of the shoe. Its primary purpose is to protect the upper part of your feet from the stress caused by lace; it also helps put your shoe on and off. The most well-known type of tongue is the gusseted tongue, which is attached to the upper part to prevent any stones, dirt, or other materials from getting into your shoe. Gusseted tongue is used in trail running shoes.
  • Welt: A piece of material placed between the upper and the sole ensures they don’t fall apart.
  • Quarter/ Quarter panel: The back and edges of the upper attach forwards to the Vamp and cover the heel.

Running Shoes Components

  • Tag /Aglet: The metal or plastic end of your shoelaces make sure that your laces do not unravel and help to make your lacing procedure all the more straightforward.
  • Saddle: Reinforcements attached to the Vamp along the sides of the shoe. These reinforcements are usually sewn on the outside of the running shoe.
  • Shoe lining: A slightly hard cushioned material is used inside the back of the shoe. These linings boost breathability and comfort and can help maximize the shoe’s lifespan.
  • Insole/Sock liner: A removable insert made from a very thin foam material. It protects your feet from rubbing against the seams underneath and provides a layer of cushioning.
  • The eyelets: Openings through which the laces cross and help adapt your shoe appropriately to your foot.
  • The eyestay: The piece of fabric that links the eyelets to the shoe’s upper.
  • U-Throat: The shoe’s opening is designed in a U-formation and contains the lacing section, eyestay, and hugs the tongue.
  • Laces: A pair of strings made from a long-lasting polyester thread is used to close the eyelets and pull the upper part around your arch.
  • Heel/Ankle: The sole part that holds the heel still in place. Some running shoes use heavy cushions, while others rely more on the shape. It improves the shoe’s rear part.
  • Heel counter: The stiff or semi-rigid exoskeleton of inflexible components in the heel surrounding and wrapping the heel. It keeps the feet in place, offering balance.
  • Heel collar: A foam padding opening at the top of your shoe supports your foot and ensures your shoe is always tightly and comfortably in place.
  • Heel tab: It is also called Achilles heel or Achilles tab; it extends above the heel counter to maintain the heel firmly in place. A cutout area known as an ‘Achilles notch’ is designed to decrease immediate stress on the Achilles tendons.
  • Heel stabilizer/stiffener: A piece of injection-molded plastic offers the heel of the shoe a rigid supporting experience.
  • Heel notch: A relief cut enables the runner to bend and flex without the running shoe rubbing on the Achilles tendon.
  • Pull tab: A piece of material used to help pull the footwear from your foot quickly. You can also use them to hang your shoes.
  • Toe puff: A lightweight reinforcement placed inside the running shoes, at the toe cap section between the upper part and lining materials, offers support and shape to the toe cap.
  • Velcro straps: Loop-and- Hook-straps help you to fit your running sneaker more securely.
  • Shoe curve: Almost all running shoes employ the curvature below the foot bone to help make the shoe bend like your feet do.

The Middle sole (Midsole)

It is a thick spongy layer of rubber between the outsole and the footbed (insole). The middle sole is designed to reduce the shock of landing the foot on the surface. Most running shoe midsoles are made from Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) or plastic-based materials. Polyurethane (PU) is also utilized when needing heavier fabric for a specific purpose.

Some companies like Saucony and Adidas use Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU), which is more flexible, bouncier, and durable foam than EVA and PU. TPU helps to boost longevity, flexibility, and bounce strength. It also provides shock absorption and traction.

Read more: 14 ways to stretch your running shoes

Below are elements of the midsole.

  • Guide rails: Plates are set inside the midsole on the sides of the shoe. The guide rails sync the knee’s rotation with the ankle, so offering support.

Midsole Guide Rails

  • Medial post:  Wedge-shaped structure called a medial post is sometimes seen with the midsole. Usually, it is comprised of EVA that is more tightly woven than the remainder of the midsole. It’s crucial to control excessive pronation. In motion control and stability running shoes, the medial post is typical.
  • Space Trusstic: A plastic bridge found under the shoe’s arch. It provides shoes with stability and strength without cutting down flexibility.Footwear Midsole Elements

The Outsole

The outsole is the bottom part of your running shoe where it contacts the ground while running. Brands use various materials to develop a different structures of the outsole. Based on the materials utilized, the outsole specifies what type of rides you will obtain when running.

They are usually made from carbon rubber or blown rubber.

  • Carbon rubber: It is a durable and rigid material where carbon is added to rubber for increased durability. These offer better balance and durability when running.
  • Blown rubber:  Blown rubber is a rubber compound that is expanded or combined with air during manufacturing to create an outsole that is lighter and softer than carbon rubber but less resilient.

Below are the elements of the outsole:

  • Decoupled heel: A separate heel gives an easy transition and absorbs shock when the heel lands on the ground.
  • Tread: The part of the outsole that gets touching the ground. On trail shoes, raised treads (Runners usually refer to these raised treads as Lugs) are designed to provide extra traction. Lugs usually come in straight edges. On road-running shoes (Runners generally refer to these small treads as waffles), waffles give the shoes less traction than trail shoes. But, on the other hand, they provide more cushioning.
The Tread of Trail Running Shoes
The Tread of Road Running Shoes
  • Flex grooves: Grooves that support the sneaker to bend along with the natural movement of the feet.
  • Shank: Also called Footbridge, it is the area between the outsole and the insole; It provides more support to the running sneakers. It decreases the runner’s calves and foot load when the terrain is uphill. Shanks are made out of different materials such as kevlar, rigid plastic, and fiberglass. It protects from sharp items that may be found on the track or puncture wounds.

Outsole Shank

Common Running Shoe Terms


The Three-dimensional foot model identifies the right construction technique to attach the upper of the shoe to the bottom part. A plastic, metal, or wood foot mold is used to test the different shoes (construction techniques). The ideal shoe pattern should be the foot mold tightly.

Foot molds can be curved, semi-curved, slightly curved, or straight. Curved lasts are shaped just like your foot. On the other hand, straight lasts are well-known in running shoes made for heavy runners with flat feet.

3 Types of Running Shoe Lasting
Shoe Lasting Types

Lasting Types (shoe construction technique)

Some factors decide which type of lasts should be used to give the best results. These factors include the upper materials, the shoe’s purpose, the required stiffness, and the price.

  • Slip lasting: The shoe’s upper materials are left long and patterned to attach to the shoe’s middle. Slip lasting is used to produce the most flexible sneakers.
  • Strobel lasting: Also known as forced lasting, once the upper part is finished, the bottom part is added to close the upper. Strobel lasting is used for sports shoes.
  • Board lasting: The upper is attached to the sole using a flexible lasting board atop the midsole. Board lasting is used for any shoe requiring a steel toe and a stiffer bottom.
  • Combination lasting: Partial lasting involves a board last in the heel area and a slip last in the forefoot. The combination last is applied to ensure the toe of a shoe is formed correctly to the last.

Energy Return

The amount of spring or bounce inside the sneaker after your foot lands on the ground. A higher percentage provides you with a bouncier feeling. Energy return is commonly influenced by the wearer’s form, weight, and gait.


The measurement unit of midsole resistance to indentation. The higher the durometer, the more rigid and resilient the midsole is.


A lightweight upper material that boosts comfort and breathability.

Toe Spring

The curve or rise upward of the sole at the forefoot allows the rolling off the forefoot.

Cushioning Devices

Cushioning devices are put into the forefoot and heel to resist compression and absorb shock. Each shoe producer designs its exclusive cushioning devices, but their features are the same across different brands.

Dual-Density or Multi-Density Midsole

A dual-density midsole comes with two different material densities, and a multi-density midsole comes with more than two densities. Sneakers that are manufactured to protect against overpronation have dual – or multi-density midsoles.


The instep and arch of the foot.

Heel Drop

Also known as (heel-to-toe drop), it is the difference in the amount of material between heel height and forefoot height. Drop is often given in millimeters. But, in a nutshell, it just shows how much the heel is taller than the forefoot.

What is Heel Drop of Running Shoes?

A running shoe with a 15mm heel height and an 8mm forefoot height will get a 7mm heel drop. Likewise, a shoe with a 12-mm heel height and a 12-mm-forefoot height will get a 0-mm heel-to-toe drop (called “zero drop”).

Stack Height

a measurement of the distance between the bottom of your foot and the ground. Stack heights can range from little cushioned (barefoot) to maximally cushioned (highly). The middle of the stack height range is where most running shoes fall.


A midsole material (made of PU foam encased in a thin layer of TPU). It is developed to absorb your step’s pressure and bring that energy back to you instead of letting it disperse.

EVA: EVA stands for Ethylene Vinyl Acetate, which is the most widely utilized midsole foam produced commercially and used in running shoes. This material goes by various names depending on the shoe company. Because the foam is heated and compressed during the production process to give it shape, it is frequently referred to as CMEVA or compression-molded EVA.

Read more: manufacturing process of running shoes.


When purchasing a new pair of running shoes, there is a lot of information to take into account, but if you are a beginner, visiting a specialty running store and seeking the assistance of a certified running shoe fitter will make your shopping process much easier. Suppose you are interested in buying your next pair of running shoes online. In that case, our website (StressFreeFeet) offers reviews for the best running shoes for every type of runner and for different circumstances.

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