Shoe Terminology

Shoe Terminology

Depending on your foot type, style preferences, and the assortment of available footwear, there are shoes that should feel like a match-made-in-heaven whenever you wear them. There are also some that should never leave the store with you. Regardless of the manufacturer, design, color, or type of shoe, or whether or not they feel like a million bucks, there are often 30 or more distinct components, working together, that create a shoe. To assist you with shoe “knowledge,” the following extensive list is provided that describes the various features of a typical shoe, in terms of anatomy, construction, and materials.

Heel to Toe Drop
This is the vertical distance between the height of your actual heel from the ground in relation to your forefoot.   Most shoes vary between 6 - 12mm and a zero drop means that the sole of the shoe is totally flat from heel to toe.

Shoe Weight

Running shoes are getting lighter and lighter which is good news for us women.  The given shoe weights are usually for one shoe and often they will say the size of the shoe that the weight relates to.


This is the fabric, usually mesh, that covers the top and sides of the shoe from toe to heel. Some uppers are more waterproof than others and some are for hot or cold weather running.

This is the reinforcement around the heel to help lock your heel in place. It can be on the outside or inside of the shoe.

Heel Crash Pad

The part of the shoe under the heel that is padded to provide a crash landing for your heel. You can also find a crash pad on the toe area as well.

This is the bottom part of the shoe and in running shoes it is divided into 3 parts:

  • Outsole: 
The outermost layer of the sole, i.e. the bit that touches the ground. Its relief comes in varying "patterns" for traction and grip.

  • Midsole: 
The middle part of the sole that is sandwiched between the outsole and the mesh. It provides the padding and cushioning of the shoe.

  • Insole: 
The thin and usually removable liner that sits in the bottom of the shoe. Some are shaped to support the different foot arch types.


The padding around the inside of the heel and interior parts of the shoe. Its usually made of foam and fabric.

Toe Spring

The front tip of the shoe. It can be shaped upwards for a faster toe off.

Toe Box

The part of the shoe where your toes sit.


The padded strip that sits on the top of your foot just under the laces.

Medial Post

You'll find this in running shoes that offer stability for feet that overpronate. It is found in the midsole but is a harder density than the normal midsole material. It is usually a different color than the rest of the sole and sits under the arch.

Running shoes have different types of cushioning in the sole for absorbing shock. The amount and type of cushioning is geared towards they type and length of running you'll be doing and the type of terrain.