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Ever Wonder What Those Pesky Shoe and Foot Terms Mean?

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Wading through all the shoe terms floating around these days can be daunting. 

And while we are here to help explain what each of the terms means to each and every pair we carry (and yes, we have extensive knowledge outside of what we carry), sometimes it’s nice to have a tool to reference.  So, here we’re providing you with just that…

(hint: There are so many more than what we provide to you below.  Please feel free to ask us if there are other terms you’ve heard and would like to know what exactly it means for the shoe, and more importantly, YOU).

A is for Arch…

Arch - The high, curved part of the sole of the foot, located between the ball of the foot and the heel. This term can also refer to the raised area of the insole of the shoe, which is meant to pad and provide support for the arch of the foot.


B is for Breaking it in…

Back Seam - The vertical seam at the center of the back of a shoe or boot.

Ball - The padded area of the foot between the big toe and the arch of the foot.

BioMoGo DNA – Completely bio-degradable material found in almost all Brooks midsoles. 

Break - The natural crease created across the vamp of the shoe from everyday wear.


C is for Cushion…

Cap Toe - A toe style with a full toe overlay and a straight stitching line across the top part of the toe.

Collar - The material sewn into the opening of the shoe. The collar can be padded to provide increased support or comfort.

Combination Last - A footwear last in which the heel is two sizes smaller in width than the widest part of the shoe, producing a shoe with a narrow heel and a wide toe box.

Contoured Foot-bed - An insole that easily molds to the shape of the foot.

Curing - The application of chemicals to animal hides in preparation for the tanning process.

Cushioning – Padding on the insole or outsole of a shoe for added comfort and stabilization.


D is for PDRB…

Diagonal Rollbar (PDRB®) – Exclusively a Brooks technology.  Used as a stabilizing feature in your favorite runners to help over-pronation- by adjusting the foot to a natural motion from heel to toe, helping the ankle from moving inwards during the gait cycle.

E is for Education…

EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) - The most common foam used for shoe cushioning. EVA can be hot pressed or cold pressed, made in any color and range of hardness. EVA is the most common midsole padding and is also used in shoe uppers.


F is for Foot…

Finish - The process by which the final appearance of a shoe is created.

Footbed (also known as insole)- The insole of the shoe, where the foot rests.


G is for Gait…

Gait - Style of walking- different for each person.

Girth - The circumference of a shoe last measured around the ball of the foot.

Gore - An elastic panel stitched into either side of a shoe's upper (Vamp) in order to make it more comfortable and easier to put on and take off.


H is for Heel…

Heel - can refer to both the rear, padded area of the underside of the foot, as well as the solid part of a shoe that supports the heel cup.

Types of shoe heels include:

  • Baby Louis - The same shape as a Louis heel but a 12/8 or shorter.
  • Built Heel - Created from layers of leather or fiber with contrasting tones.
  • Continental - A higher heel with a slightly curved back and flat front.
  • Cuban - A thick, stacked heel with little or no curvature and tapered at the bottom; usually medium in height.
  • Louis Heel -Developed in the seventeenth century, it is a heel fashioned from an extension of the shoe's sole.
  • Louis or French - Features a curved back and ranges in height from 16/8 to 24/8.
  • Stacked - Similar to the built heel but typically can be created from synthetic and leather materials. Often found on spectator shoes.
  • Wedge - A heel of any height that is as wide as the shoe itself and follows the shoe contour from toe to heel.
  • Insole - The part of the shoe that the foot rests upon, usually cushioned
  • Instep - The area of the foot between the toes and the ankle, or the top front part of a shoe
  • Insole - The part of the shoe that the foot rests upon, usually cushioned
  • Instep - The area of the foot between the toes and the ankle, or the top front part of a shoe
  • Insole - The part of the shoe that the foot rests upon, usually cushioned
  • Instep - The area of the foot between the toes and the ankle, or the top front part of a shoe


I is for Instep…

Insole - The part of the shoe that the foot rests upon.

Instep - The upper area of the foot between the toes and the ankle.


J is for J-Frame…

J-Frame – Hoka’s Technology J-Frame™ supports and guides your foot without the use of heavy, rigid or unforgiving materials. It gets its name from the "J" shape, which uses a firmer density foam to support the inside of your foot and heel.

K is for Kinetic…

Kinetic Fit base – Merrell insoles, contoured to your foot. Kinetic Fit™ insoles provide flexible, intuitive support for connected and protected movement.


L is for Last…

Last - The wooden block around which the shoe is formed. Last's can be standard sizes or made-to-order, specific to each brand / style.

Lasting - The process of pulling and shaping a shoe on a last.

Lift - One of the several layers of leather or leather-board used make a heel.

Lug Sole - A heavy-tread, rubber sole.



M is for Midsole…

Meta-Rocker Geometry- Meta-Rocker, or wheels for your feet, is all about the geometry. Hoka combine a low heel-toe drop, our unique-shaped midsoles and signature HOKA cushioning to complement a runner's normal gait cycle and drive you forward.

Midsole - The part of the shoe between the outsole and where the foot rests.

O is for Orthotic…

Orthotic - An orthopedic insole designed to cushion and stabilize the foot.

Outsole - The very bottom of the shoe that contacts the ground

Overlay - Detailing on a shoe made by layering material on top of other material.


P is for Pitch…

Pitch - The angle of the back part of the heel where it meets the sole.


S is for Shoe…

Shaft Height - Measurement from the middle of the arch up the inside of the boot to the top of the boot shaft.

Shank - A metal strip extending from the heel to the ball of the foot to strengthen shoe and add support.

Shoe Width - The width of a shoe is typically measured in letters (AAA, AA, A, B, C, D, E, EE, EEE, EEEE).

Sole - Another word for the outsole, the bottom part of the shoe.


T is for Toe…

Throat - The main opening of a shoe extending from the shoe’s upper to the ankle.

Toe-box - A stiff piece of material placed inside the upper of the shoe to retain the dome-like shape over the toes. It can take many shapes, flat, high, wide, etc.

U is for Upper…

Upper - The upper part of the shoe, not including the sole. Maybe made from leather, fabric or synthetics.


V is for Vibram…

Vamp - The front part of a shoe upper that covers the toes and part of the foot.

Vibram® - A type of durable, non-slip outsole typically found in hiking boots. Vibram is a registered trademark of Vibram S.P.A.

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