On the opposite end of the spectrum are these plush, plush designs, which became popular during the early days of the minimalist shoe controversy. brewing– and, thanks to the rise of the popularity of the Hoka brand, are even considered stylish outside of racing. They are cushioned with plenty of foam in the midsole, creating a soft or bouncy feel under your feet. Many also have a rocker sole, which means your foot and ankle do less work as you roll from heel to toe with each stride.
Important: More cushioning is not necessarily better. Your cadence, or the number of steps you take per minute, will likely be lower with heavier shoes, says Antush. This, combined with the fact that you can’t feel the ground beneath you, can actually cause you to land heavier, increasing the distance. forces traveling through your feet and legs.
However, some runners will prefer a plusher experience, particularly those who have had pain or other forefoot issues, says Dr. Canzanese. Older runners and heavier runners can do well in maximalist models, as can those who have suffered ACL tears or joint replacements, Antush says.
Most modern shoes fall into this category, between minimalist and maximalist, says Dr. Canzanese. Try several different brands and models to find the quantity and quality of cushion that works for you.
Parts of a shoe
Shoes are divided into three main sections: uppers, outsoles, and midsoles, and there’s a lot going on beneath the surface in each of them.
It’s literally the upper part of the shoe: the fabric that covers your foot and attaches it to what’s underneath. It is usually made of stretchy and supportive knit or breathable mesh. “Neither one is better or worse, they just offer different ways to have a superior, safe, breathable experience,” says Zielinksi. Some newer materials combine the properties of both.
These are other materials, such as plastic strips or rubber logos, that run through the upper material. They can provide more support and structure, provide reflection, or simply add an element of style (or a combination of all three).
These secure the shoe to your foot and help you fine-tune the fit, but you may not realize how important their fit can be. “There is a tons of different ways to tie the shoe” says Dr. Canzanese. The term for the holes they wrap through is grommet, and the pieces of plastic or metal on the end are called aglets.
This firmer material surrounds your heel, reinforcing and supporting it so your foot doesn’t slip. Heel counter size generally corresponds to the overall level of support: motion control and stability shoes tend to have larger, stiffer counters, while minimalist shoes have lighter, smaller ones, explains Dr. Canzanese. Some shoes also have extra padding around this area; This is called the heel collar.
The front part of the shoe surrounds your digits, allowing them to spread and flex naturally as you log your miles. It’s important to get one that’s the right shape and size. If it is too short or too narrow, you risk light bulbsfriction and damaged nails, says Dr. Canzanese. Note that size large shoes do not always have a wider toe box; certain brands (such as Other) and models are designed to be roomier in the front, so you may want to look for them if you have bunions, arthritis, or any other reason you need to give your toes more room.
The tongue provides protection so the laces don’t put pressure on or irritate your foot, says Dr. Canzanese. Some tongues are gusseted, meaning they are joined on all sides; this secures your foot better and also prevents dirt and stones from getting into your shoe. Others are free, or simply logged in at the bottom.
This is the lower part of the shoe, which comes into contact with the ground. The treads on the bottom are what give you more or less traction; what you need depends on your preferences and the surface you run on.
It’s a design feature built into the midsole and outsole, which curves at the toes and heels (yes, like a rocking chair) to help ease your stride. This reduces pressure on your forefoot, says Dr. Willy. They are a good choice for people suffering from bunions, hammertoes or arthritis.