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August 22, 2014

Next time you go shoe shopping, don’t leave without knowing these terms!

Written by Dena Evans

heel_strikeWhether you have just signed up for your first goal race or if you are in need of a new or different pair of shoes after hundreds of miles, here are a few terms that will help you navigate the local running / walking store. Familiarize yourself with the below and hopefully your helpful shoe salesperson’s jargon won’t overwhelm you when it comes time to choose the right shoe for you.

 

 

Neutral

If you are a neutral runner or walker, you don’t need too much support to get your foot striking and pushing off in a generally textbook fashion.  Neutral shoes don’t provide excessive stability mechanisms or other overtly corrective technology.

Pronation / Supination

These two terms commonly come up in conversation when discussing how a foot strikes the ground and what it does after landing.  Pronation is the inward roll of the foot after landing.  Some pronation is fairly normal, although some athletes over-pronate which means rolling inward much more severely.  This can in some cases lead to knee soreness and other over-use issues, and a shoe that helps guide the foot along a more neutral path might be suggested.    Supination, on the other hand, is the outward rotation of the foot after it hits the ground, which may cause other overuse issues or just an uneven wear pattern in your shoes.

 

 

Minimal / Maximal / Drop

Minimal shoes have reduced the cushioning aspects of a typical shoe to try and encourage a stride which more closely resembles what we would do if not wearing any shoes at all.  Maximal shoes have chosen an alternate route – the more cushioning the better.  Despite these seemingly opposing approaches to finding the perfect ride, many of the popular models in each camp have a very modest drop, or difference in height between where the heel and forefoot sit.  For example, a four inch high heel shoe has a 4 inch drop, while flip flops have zero drop.  Many minimal and popular maximal shoes have 4 mm drop or less, while traditional shoes have 8mm or more.

 

Heel counter

The firm piece in the heel that helps keep it central within the shoe.

 

Last

The last is the mold on which the shoe is designed, usually made of a hard surface.  Different types of lasts result in differently shaped shoes, and different ways of lasting can result differences in how the shoes are put together.

 

 

 

 

 

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