The Running Shoes Glossary
Runners have a language all their own. And even if you speak fluent runnerlese—you can say "fartlek" and not laugh—your shoe vernacular can always use some fine-tuning. We've curated an all-inclusive list of the most popular terms and phrases used when it comes to describing running shoes. Customer service is our No. 1 priority, and we want you to know exactly what you're getting when you buy from us. Browse this glossary to stay up to date on the latest and greatest running shoe technologies.
PLEASE NOTE: Brand names in parentheses indicate ownership of any proprietary technology.
1:1 360 Lacing:
Anatomically conforms to the foot for a tailored fit regardless of foot shape. (Pearl Izumi)
1:1 Energy Foam:
Cushions forefoot upon impact and returns energy back to the runner. (Pearl Izumi)
1:1 Graduated Guidance System:
Guides the foot from heel-strike to toe-off for a smooth, consistent feel. (Pearl Izumi)
1:1 Shock Absorption Foam:
Foam in the heel that absorbs and diffuses forces upon initial ground contact. (Pearl Izumi)
Dual-density foam that is used as a supportive element in the midsole to help reduce the rate of pronation.
New Balance's proprietary cushioning compound. The foam-based polymer works by dispersing the forces out from the point of impact and reducing the shock that is transferred through the shoe and up into the leg and body. It resists compression due to consistent cell wall thickness, uniform cell size and consistent cell shape. Most New Balance shoes use some form of this material. In several of its premium shoes, New Balance uses Abzorb SBS, a deformable thermoplastic that does not have a cell structure-like foam. Based on wear-testing feedback, it does not break down after repeated impacts. For a smooth transition on heel-strike, New Balance uses Abzorb DTS, which combines Abzorb foam and Abzorb SBS for increased cushioning. (New Balance)
Twelve percent lighter than standard midsole foam. There are a few versions of Acteva. Acteva LITE is 24 percent lighter than standard foam. Acteva Ultra LITE is 32 percent lighter than standard foam. (New Balance)
Antimicrobial technology that provides built-in protection of the footbed by using naturally occurring silver to resist the growth of microbes that cause odors. (The North Face)
Stands for Asics High Abrasion Rubber. It's placed in critical areas of the outsole for exceptional durability. (Asics)
air mesh upper:
Wide, open mesh, used to increase airflow and cool the foot.
Gusseted construction prevents debris from entering shoe.
A midsole material that offers increased rebound and a bouncier-feeling run while maintaining lightweight performance. (Mizuno)
APMA seal of acceptance:
Designated shoes have the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) seal of acceptance. The seal is granted to products found to promote good foot health. To earn the seal, each product is reviewed by a group of APMA podiatrists to ensure it promotes foot health.
Lightweight stretch materials in the arch area adapt to your foot to provide a snug and supportive midfoot fit. (Saucony)
asymmetrical upper construction:
Designed to hold the foot securely on the platform during turns on the track.
All-terrain outsole that combines a running and trail lug configuration for on- and off-road use. (New Balance)
Ballistic Rock Shield:
Toughened thermoplastic EVA sheath between the outsole and midsole protects the forefoot by spreading out point loads from sharp objects. (Brooks)
A shoe that mimics the shape of the foot and allows the unhindered function of its natural motion. It sometimes features just a thin layer of material between the foot and the ground.
The science that applies the principles of physics to the study of human motion. The information provided by this scientific approach influences many of the engineered solutions used in running shoe design.
A runner with feet that follow the natural gait cycle without excessive inward or outward rolling.
Biomorphic Fit Upper:
Stretch material strategically placed on the upper helps to reduce buckling and the potential for irritation. (Asics)
blown rubber outsole:
A rubber compound that is mixed with air to produce a lightweight, cushy outsole. It's the least durable form of rubber.
The cushioning gel that Brooks includes in the midsole of many of its shoes. The cushioning system automatically adapts to a runner's weight, gait and speed. The midsole technology responds to the amount of force placed on the foot and disperses the pressure to provide just the right amount of resiliency. There are a few DNA configurations in the Brooks lineup. Anatomical DNA is comprised of two discrete inserts in the heel and the ball of the foot for adaptive cushioning upon footstrike. Full-length DNA, found in premium trainers, features a single insert spanning the length of the foot. In this way, there is adaptive cushioning in key areas from heel-strike to toe-off. BioMoGo DNA, a more earth-friendly option, does not use a gel insert. Instead, the DNA material is blended with Brooks' midsole compound for adaptive cushioning throughout the platform.
Lightweight midsole adds cushion without sacrificing flexibility. (New Balance)
Rubber with increased durability thanks to a carbon additive. It's used in high impact areas of the outsole and is denser and heavier than blown rubber.
A dual-density insert with a supportive bed and lightweight construction. (New Balance)
Caterpillar Crash Pad:
This segmented crash pad, the part of the heel that strikes the ground first, gives great cushioning for heel strikers, but because it's segmented, it still offers a smooth transition into the midfoot. (Brooks)
Clutch Collar System:
Separates the rear foot of the shoe from the front foot of the shoe, which allows for a better, more secure fit. When there is no separation between the rear and forefoot, the heel sits back in the heel counter, which can cause some slippage. The shoe's separation creates a lock-and-key phenomenon that effectively locks your heel into place. When the heel wants to lift, the shoe comes with it. (Asics)
Provides cushioning performance and anti-odor properties for a cooler, drier, healthier environment. (Asics)
Molded sockliner contoured to cradle the heel, support the arch and reduce peak pressures in the forefoot. It's built from premium EVA for a responsive feel. (Saucony)
An upper material that senses the temperature of your feet. When the foot temperature warms up to 82 degrees, Comfortemp activates to create a cooling effect. By absorbing heat, it naturally keeps the foot dry and comfortable. When the foot temperature drops below 82 degrees, Comfortemp releases the stored heat to create a warming effect. (Saucony)
An open-cell, foam sockliner. It's antimicrobial and breathable while still providing cushioning and ride. (Saucony)
The part of a shoe that fits around an ankle.
A waterproofing system that creates a one-piece component that results in superior waterproofing, breathability, comfort and fit.
compression molded EVA:
Cradle Guide Technology:
Midsole technology engineered to naturally absorb impact, stabilize the foot and promote a biomechanically correct stride to achieve the perfect balance of stability, cushioning and comfort. (The North Face)
The area of the foot that first touches the ground when a runner strikes. It's the area that absorbs the most impact, so the amount of cushioning it has is crucial.
An upper material that provides a strong, protective, lightweight and durable covering. The cuprothermo material absorbs heat from within the shoe and directs it outwards. In cold running conditions, the Cuprothermo material maintains the inside temperature of the running shoe.
A plush foam compound that is at least 13 percent softer than lightweight performance foams. It offers responsive cushioning and comfort without sacrificing durability or stability. (New Balance)
Gives elevated shock absorption and minimal support on the inside of the foot. It's ideal for biomechanically neutral runners or supinators.
A segmented heel that minimizes impact to help absorb shock and slow pronation. The heel's design reduces the impact of the forces traveling from the heel to the rest of the outsole and midsole.
A high-density post at the inner arch is engineered for pronation control and creates a smoother transition from midstance phase into the propulsion phase, the moment of a runner's stride that actually accelerates the body forward. (Brooks)
Independently placed eyelets disburse lace tension to create a customized fitting environment and enhanced upper comfort. (Asics)
Shank-like thermoplastic device gives support while allowing the heel and forefoot to act independently. (Brooks)
The height difference between the heel and toes. Shoes considered barefoot will have a zero drop, which means no elevation between the toe and heel. Also known as heel-to-toe offset.
A mechanism used to correct overpronation. It's usually a firmer wedge of foam on the inner side. The two densities combine to give runners a smooth, supportive ride.
Dual-Density SSL (Saucony Super Lite) EVA:
An advanced EVA blend in the midsole that maximizes rebound and durability while minimizing weight. (Saucony)
DuoMax Support System:
A dual-density midsole system positioned to enhance support and stability. (Asics)
Reduces weight and enhances flexibility while maintaining traction and durability. (Asics)
A blown rubber compound for enhanced cushioning and durability in the forefoot. (Asics)
A molded midsole component engineered for specific foot types to enhance guidance and fit. (Asics)
Dynamic DuoMax Support System:
An evolution of the Duoxmax support system that still enhances stability and support but with reduced weight and increased platform comfort. (Asics)
Emulates the motion of the foot and has a secure fit that still freely moves. It eliminates bunching, pulling and sliding. (Mizuno)
High-traction, featherweight outsole that delivers superior performance without a base layer of rubber. (New Balance)
An engineered outsole material that delivers skid and abrasion resistance. (Brooks)
Midsole compound progressively dampens the forces of energy that occur during the contact phase. (Brooks)
Midsole compound is used to enhance resilience under the metatarsals (the foot bones right behind your toes), resulting in a more powerful propulsion, the moment of a runner's stride that actually accelerates the body forward. (Brooks)
External Bedrock Outsole:
A protective plate that shields the forefoot from rocks and roots. (Saucony)
Delivers a smooth running experience with a continuously changing offset as the foot transitions from initial contact through push-off. In the E:Motion line, the offset can range from 1 mm to 7.5 mm. Pearl Izumi took the traditional toe spring that would start around the ball of the feet and moved it back about 20 mm so it rests under the midfoot. This creates a smooth sensation from heel-strike to stance to toe-off. (Pearl Izumi)
A classic triathlon shoe feature that allows a runner to put the shoe on quickly, easily and securely. The laces crisscross down the shoe, but rather than being knotted off, they lock in place. There is no tying or untying required.
Upper technology featuring superior microfiber construction to provide weather protection in a light, supple, quiet fabric that doesn't sacrifice breathability, durability or comfort. (Brooks)
A midsole technology that combines a supportive, durable rim of polyurethane, material that is more resistant to compression, and a soft, cushioning core of EVA, a midsole material that is soft, light and flexible. (New Balance)
Engineered Pod Configuration:
Midsole and outsole components set the foot in an efficient, balanced position from heel-strike to toe-off. There are a few variations. Hyper Pod Configuration offers maximum stability and flexibility. Stable Pod Configuration offers maximum stability and responsiveness. Cush Pod Configuration offers maximum cushioning and flexibility. MC Pod Configuration offers maximum motion control and flexibility. (Brooks)
Brooks Equilibrium technologies concern thermoregulation, featuring advanced moisture transfer fabrics that regulate body temperature for dry, thermally balanced comfort on the run. (Brooks)
High-abrasion EVA is used as a lightweight outsole substitute instead of carbon rubber.
A tacky polyurethane print on the top of the sockliner that prevents the foot from slipping inside the shoe.
Structured, lightweight arch support extends into the inner side of the heel and provides midfoot rigidity and rearfoot support on the inner side of the shoe. (New Balance)
The openings in which the shoe's laces run through to tighten the shoe.
Upper that allows a certain amount of stretch in particular target areas while still maintaining adequate support in other areas of the shoe. (New Balance)
Featherweight ASICS Speed Technology. The system offers characteristics that provide the feel of a racing flat with the top performance of an everyday trainer. (Asics)
A lower, 6 mm heel-toe drop encourages midfoot and forefoot stride for faster running. (Asics)
Minimal outsole material in only high abrasion areas. (Asics)
Lightweight heel construction improves fit and reduces weight. (Asics)
A firmer midsole increases responsiveness and enhances the ride from contact to toe-off. (Asics)
Virtually no curve in the arch. It's generally an indication of excessive flexing of the arch and overpronation.
Outsole components that allow optimal flex at toe-off. They move the heel contact point further forward on the sole to smooth out heel contact and to produce a more fluid ride. Next, they work with flex grooves in the forefoot to smoothly continue the roll forward to give a solid platform at toe-off. (Mizuno)
Lightweight yet strong material allows for fewer layers in the upper for a seamless, flexible feel. (Saucony)
Grooves on the outsoles on the forefront that provide better flexibility at toe-off. They allow the foot to roll more naturally at toe-off.
The ability of a shoe's forefoot to bend under the ball of the foot. If a shoe doesn't flex easily, the foot and leg muscles have to work harder.
Upper that provides form-fitting comfort without sacrificing support. (Asics)
An injection-based plate that allows the runner to efficiently transition from heel impact to toe-off. (Saucony)
A system of individually configured flex grooves, outsole components that let the shoe bend and flex with the foot. It guarantees every runner ideal forefoot flexibility independent of weight and gender. (Brooks)
Technology that recognizes and responds to a runner's exact load and positional change from first impact to toe-off. It focuses specifically on the subtalar joint in the foot, which is responsible for pronation and supination. Flex grooves in the rearfoot align to the subtalar joint, which lets the shoe adjust to the foot's natural movement while improving fit, function and flexibility. (Asics)
Combines multi-directional mesh with stretch reinforcements that adapt to the athlete's foot, creating a customized glove-like fit. (Asics)
A progressively denser midsole construction in the heel delivers a smooth transition from soft cushioning to more supportive material. A lightweight, integrated support system incorporates a seamless structure of foam to create foot guidance, stability and a fluid motion. (Columbia)
A pronation control technology that adapts to how much or little a foot pronates. It delivers a smooth transition from soft cushioning to a denser, more supportive material on the inner side. This promotes an adaptive, less abrupt, safer and more comfortable footstrike. (Columbia)
Midsole compound that provides the combination of bounce back and cushioning properties with reduced weight and exceptional durability. (Asics)
One of several plastic materials that has gas injected into it to form a cushioning layer. Several different foaming agents are used in different processes to create proprietary foams used in cushioning systems, midsole, ankle collars or innersoles.
The moment when the entire foot lies flat on the ground.
The broad, front section of the shoe. It's the part of the foot that propels a runner forward.
Forefoot GEL Cushioning System:
A silicone-based gel placed in the forefoot to absorb shock and enhance proper foot movement in the toe-off stage of the gait cycle. (Asics)
forefoot lockdown strap:
Locks the foot to the midsole and provides a more secure fit.
forefoot stretch zone:
Anatomically designed to provide a more forgiving fit in the forefoot for extra comfort.
A runner who lands on the front of the foot during the gait cycle.
Full-Length S-257 Midsole:
Exclusive midsole compound decreases breakdown by 15 percent while providing excellent energy return and cushioning every stride. (Brooks)
A lightweight outsole that offers durability and traction without added bulk. (Mizuno)
Adjusts to the differences between the running styles of men and women and offers a closer fit to the different styles of male and female runners. It's developed in many densities and shapes to address different impact requirements. (Mizuno)
Separate piece of material that is in the forefoot of the midsole. The piece in women's models is softer compared to men's to allow the lighter frame of women to feel cushioning in the forefoot. (Asics)
Gender-Specific Space Trusstic System:
Recognizes the normal periodic changes in the shape of the woman's arch and provides for the controlled deformation of the arch into the space within the system. (Asics)
A specialized mesh placed strategically on the upper allows for better airflow and breathability.
Waterproof and breathable materials designed to protect the foot during extreme weather conditions. It is typically used in a shoe's upper.
Grid Cushioning System:
Stables the heel on impact to give a blend of cushioning and stability. It absorbs and deflects impact and protects the body from the force of the road. (Saucony)
A flex groove on the outsole that lies along the line of the foot's natural progression that enhances gait efficiency. (Asics)
Full-length water evacuation and drainage system that allows for water and sand to easily escape from the shoe. (New Balance)
Heel Clutching System:
External heel counter, or part of the shoe that wraps around the heel, provides improved support and creates improved heel fitting environment. (Asics)
The internal piece of the shoe's upper that wraps around the heel. It centers the heel in the shoe and prevents excess movement.
The height your foot sits on top of the midsole and outsole.
A gait style where the heel is the first part of the foot to hit the ground.
The foot has a very distinct arch and tends to be rigid and not pronate.
This durable and long-wearing outsole compound is made with dispersed silica, resulting in premium wet-dry traction for excellent skid resistance and a more environmentally friendly composition. HPR Plus is a higher durability, abrasion-resistant rubber outsole compound that wears longer. (Brooks)
HRC Forefoot Cushioning:
A responsive EVA/rubber compound that provides cushioning through the later stages of the gait cycle. (Saucony)
Viscous fluid units for heel and forefoot enhance midsole cushioning. It absorbs shock with dampening and comfort. (Brooks)
Collar lining material combines superior moisture-wicking properties with a plush feel for comfort. (Saucony)
Waterproofing membrane that shields from water on the outside while still allowing moisture transition from the inside. (The North Face)
Thirty-three percent lighter and provides more cushioning compared to standard blown rubber. (Saucony)
Brooks' signature, slimmed-down heel encourages contact points to shift forward, which aligns the joints and creates optimal energy return. (Brooks)
Impact Guidance System:
Asics' design philosophy that encourages the shoe to work with the foot rather than try to control it. It is not just one feature working in isolation but rather a series of interdependent and linked components. I.G.S. aims to make all shoe components work together effectively to allow the body to perform in a natural manner. Some of these technologies include a Solyte midsole and the GEL-Cushioning system.
Blend of EVA that offers greater durability and responsiveness. (Saucony)
Midsole foam that increases shock absorption, durability and makes cushioning more responsive.
inner-lock lacing system:
Asymmetrical internal straps comfortably wrap and secure the foot on the platform of the shoe to improve fit and stability. (Asics)
The insert that sits between your foot and the shoe. It's also referred to as a sockliner. Many people buy insoles separately to increase a shoe's comfort.
A pocket enabling the laces to be tucked in and unexposed.
Refers to how the upper is attached to the midsole. There are three kinds: slip, board and combination. A shoe with a slip last construction means the upper is sewn into a sock that is glued directly to the midsole with no board in between. These are flexible and well-cushioned for supinators. A shoe with a board-lasted construction is made with stiff fiberboard glued to the upper, midsole and outsole. It offers stability and motion control for overpronators. A combination-lasted shoe has board-lasting in the rear half for motion control and support and slip-lasting in front for cushioning and flex. This is the most common approach and can be used for a wide range of foot types.
The foot form a shoe is built around. There are three kinds: straight, curved and semi-curved. A straight last shape is optimal for overpronators or runners with flexible, flat arches. This shape offers the most arch support. A curved last shape is best for underpronators with rigid, high arches because the curved shape promotes inward motion. This shape is also indicative of a fast, responsive shoe. A semi-curved last shape is appropriate for neutral pronators and acts as a neutral ground between a straight and curved last. It is the most common shape of a shoe.
The outer edge of a shoe.
By managing moisture transfer, this fabric keeps skin dry and comfortable. (New Balance)
Shoes designed for racing and speedwork. They generally have no support on the inner side.
Lower Density Midsole:
A softer top layer provides cushioning and flexibility. (Asics)
Rubber treads on the outsole that provide grip.
Magic Sole (Asics):
A vented midsole and outsole that minimizes weight and maximizes breathability.
A firmer density of midsole material on the inner side of the shoe that reduces overpronation because it increases support.
The inner side of the shoe.
Memory Foam Heel Pods:
Strategically placed along the heel pocket provide a snug, comfortable fit. (Saucony)
An upper material that breathes well and provides ventilation.
A runner who lands on the middle of his or her foot.
midfoot support bridge:
Molded, flexible plastic shank provides torsional rigidity. Torsional rigidity refers to how easily the shoe twists when it's held by the heel and the front is turned in the direction of the big toe.
The cushioning layer of foam between the upper and the outsole. It's the part of the shoe where manufacturers use proprietary cushioning technology such as Asics GEL or Mizuno Wave.
A midpoint between neutral cushioned and racing shoes. They maximize responsiveness in a stripped-down feel. As many layers, overlays and excess materials are removed or simplified to reduce weight and structure.
Mizuno Intercool Technology:
Incorporates a full-length ventilation system.
Mizuno Wave Technology:
A midsole technology that reduces and redirects impact forces away from the foot. It's lightweight, compact, responsive and doesn't break down over time. The technology relies on the wave plate, a plastic piece with a wave-like shape baked into the midsole.
Mono-Sock Fit System (Asics):
An elastic internal sleeve that replaces a traditional tongue to provide a sock-like fit.
Usually have stiffer heels or straight lasts to counter overpronation. They are best for moderate to severe overpronators.
Less material underfoot that is still responsive, durable and sustainable. (New Balance)
A cushioning system that is a soft, lightweight, responsive thermoplastic gel and is strong, durable and flexible. (New Balance)
A midsole made of soft-cushioning foam layered with firmer-structured foam. The top foam is less dense for soft cushioning while the denser-bottom foam provides support and compression-set resistance. (New Balance)
An elastic strip that wraps over the instep and provides a comfortable, secure fit regardless of foot shape. (Brooks)
A responsive cushioning technology supported with shock-absorbing struts for stronger performances. Each strut is designed to absorb and quickly spring back. The struts on the inner heel are engineered to provide optimal control, limiting excessive ankle movement with every landing. (New Balance)
Rubber compound for maximum outsole durability. (New Balance)
The foot pronates normally with an optimum amount of pronation.
Best for biomechanically efficient runners with minimum pronation and midfoot or forefoot strikers with normal or high arches. They offer minimum support on the inner side of the shoe.
Outsole material that provides slip resistance and oil resistance. (New Balance)
Integrated lacing and webbing system that provides optimal fit, support and security. (New Balance)
A technique that uses printed or welded overlays instead of sewn. This construction technique reduces the likelihood of irritating seams in the shoe's upper while decreasing the weight of the shoe without compromising the support.
An outsole that provides extra security and stability when met with slick surfaces.
The most common foot type. After heel strike, the arch flexes moderately, and the foot rolls inward slightly,or pronates.
Biomechanically engineered footbed provides enhanced stability, support and cushioning. (The North Face)
Omega Flex Grooves:
Outsole components that enhance the flexibility of the midsole and provide an effortless forefoot ride while still maintaining cushioning and midsole integrity. (Brooks)
An advanced traction solution for trail, hiking, winter and water use and ensures outdoor stability. Multidirectional digging zones promote acceleration, and a dual-zone tread pattern allows for solid footing on packed snow or ice and soft snow or powder. (Columbia)
Omni-Heat Reflective Lining:
Provides heat retention, is highly breathable and reduces excess heat and moisture. It reflects and retains body warmth and dissipates moisture and excess heat to keep feet comfortable. (Columbia)
Combines a specific Ortholite foam and an EVA heel cup. Ortholite foam creates a cooler, drier, healthier, better-cushioned environment under the foot.
A shoe's bottommost surface that provides traction and durability. It's usually made of carbon or blown rubber.
Synthetic materials that are stitched or bonded to the upper to offer support and reinforcement.
Excess inward rolling of the foot following a footstrike. Overpronators need stability or motion control shoes. Pronation is marked by wear patterns along the inside edge of your shoe.
Personal Heel Fit is two layers of memory foam that line the collar and mold to the athlete's heel to create a personalized fit. (Asics)
Cushioning foam and protective plates provide superior load control and energy return. This produces a lighter, more responsive feel that enables a more consistent ride in temperature extremes.
Combines seams in which the seam and thread are not noticed and seamless panels that provide comfort and quality construction. Seams and edges can create high pressure points that can dig into the skin. This is what the Phantom Liner prevents. (New Balance)
Technology that allows the post, or stability mechanism, to progress across the shoe from soft to hard. This way, each runner gets the amount of posting (i.e., stability) that he or she needs. (Brooks)
A common midsole material. It is heavier and denser than EVA and is more resistant to compression.
Sections of the midsole that are harder to compress thanks to stiffer EVA. They decelerate pronation, boost durability and are often found in stability shoes.
Distributes force and transmits energy back into the runner's stride with maximum efficiency and minimal impact. (Saucony)
A lightweight stability technology on the outer edge of the forefoot that distributes force evenly so changing directions is quicker and more efficient. (New Balance)
Progressive Diagonal Rollbar (PDRB):
A post on the inner side of the shoe with varying levels of material hardness that stabilizes the foot from heel-strike to toe-off by progressively guiding the foot into a more biomechanically efficient position. (Brooks)
A cushioning platform that reduces shock impact while setting the foot up for a smooth, heel-to-toe transition. It absorbs impact, dissipates shock and maximizes rebound. (Saucony)
The lightest version of the ProGrid cushioning platform offers a more effective way to dissipate shock and absorb impact. With strategically placed memory foam in the heel, runners receive a snug fit for smooth runs. (Saucony)
Supportive straps on either side of the midfoot that encase the foot and secure it to the platform. (Saucony)
The foot's natural inward roll following a footstrike. Everyone pronates to some extent. It's how the body handles impact.
Propulsion Trusstic System:
Molded components under the midfoot area that mirror the functions of the ligaments in the foot. This helps the foot change from a flexible structure, which it needs to be for proper shock absorption through heel-strike to mid-stance (that is, the time in the gait cycle when the full body weight is on one leg with the leg fully planted), into a powerful, rigid lever needed for the propulsion stage. The propulsion stage is the time in the gait cycle when the heel first rises from the ground to the time just prior to push-off when your back leg leaves the ground. It's the running stage that actually propels you forward. (Asics)
Technology on the inner side of the forefoot provides optimal traction and a sole base for side-to-side movements, keeping rubber in contact with the ground for better footing. (New Balance)
The lightest, most flexible category of running shoes. They have the minimal amount of cushion and support and are ideal for distances below a 10K.
Midsole foam that provides responsiveness and durability in a lightweight ride that doesn't sacrifice cushioning or stability. (New Balance)
A thin, flexible layer of high durometer EVA foam that can be combined with a medial posting. It's located between the outsole and midsole and is designed to protect the bottom of the foot from terrain that contains sharp roots, rocks and other gnarly debris. (New Balance)
A post on the inner side of the shoe with a composite plate designed to minimize rearfoot movement.
Durable, energy-efficient midsole compound used as an insole board for cushioning and flexibility. (Brooks)
A stability system that provides optimal outer forefoot, midfoot and inner-heel support. (New Balance)
Fit system that locks the midfoot to the platform while securing the heel. (Saucony)
Allows for extra breathability to keep feet cool and dry. It provides support and structure in a lightweight, seamless package.
A soft, stretchy liner inside the shoe used to deliver the ideal combination of foothold and freedom of movement. (Salomon)
Stiffens the shoe under the arch, which makes the middle part of the shoe more less flexible. It encourages the shoe to bend at the toes rather than under the arch, but it adds weight to the shoe.
Promotes a smooth, rocking motion throughout your stride. It includes Mizuno technologies such as Flex Controllers on the outsole and its AP+ midsole compound. The combined technology offers increased flexibility and more power and toe-off. (Mizuno)
A plate that winds back and forth in the forefoot and allows the foot to flex in a natural manner while delivering protection and rigidity. (The North Face)
Insert added to cushion and protect your foot from the shoe's midsole. Some are removable in order to accommodate an orthotic.
solid rubber outsole:
Provides enhanced durability and traction.
A midsole material that improves bounce-back characteristics and decreases midsole breakdown. (Asics)
Super Rebound Compound provides durable shock absorption in the heel crash pad to help reduce any rotating and allow for a smooth transition into the midfoot. (Saucony)
SRC Impact Zone:
Cushioning compound absorbs shock and sets the foot up for a smooth transition. (Saucony)
SRC Xtra Forefoot Cushioning:
Forefoot cushioning system provides a smooth toe-off. (Saucony)
Foam in the heel that results in a softer initial impact on heel-strike. (Mizuno)
A blend of Saucony Super Lite EVA in the midsole that maximizes rebound and durability while minimizing weight. (Saucony)
A support system on the inner side of the shoe that provides a continuous range of stiffness for optimal transition throughout the gait. (New Balance)
Help minimize basic pronation by offering support to the inside of the feet. They are best for runners who are mild to moderate pronators. The majority of runners can successfully run in stability shoes.
A structured lightweight arch support that provides optimal rigidity preventing midfoot flex. (New Balance)
Distance from where the shoe sits on the ground to the top of the shoe's midsole. There are two primary stack heights that are discussed: heel and forefoot. The difference between the two is the shoe's drop.
Molded support locks the heel in place for a secure, stable fit. (Saucony)
Provide a more supportive fit in the forefoot.
A lightweight, flexible plastic shank that provides stability without making the sole rigid or inflexible through a unique center beam design.
A durable, impact-absorbing midsole cushioning system. (Columbia)
Dual Pivot Posts keep you stable by adapting to and minimizing the destabilizing effect of rocks and other trail nuisances. (Brooks)
A high-abrasion, sticky rubber designed for maximum off-trial traction that will withstand the rigors of rough, off-trail surfaces. (The North Face)
The front section of the shoe that encases the toes.
A split toe (that is, a split in the sole of the shoe at the toes) that enhances forefoot flexibility and independently empowers the big toe to engage the runner's natural stability and power during push-off. (Brooks)
The final stage of the running gait where the toes propel the runner forward while the heel pushes from the ground.
TPU (thermoplastic urethane):
Flexible plastic in some midsoles that is used to improve stability.
The part of the outsole that comes in direct contact with the ground. Treads supply cushioning and traction. They are also known as waffles.
A rigid plastic shank that connects the heel to the forefoot of the shoe. It keeps the foot from twisting too much or too little and reduces the weight of the sole unit while retaining the structural integrity of the shoe. (Asics)
Multi-density support on the inner side that creates a smooth transition from heel strike to toe-off. (New Balance)
Tuned Density Midsole:
Brooks tuned the density in its midsoles to better correspond with a runner's gender and weight, delivering a custom balance of cushioning that's not too soft or stiff. (Brooks)
Midsole compound that delivers optimal shock absorption, durability and is 30 percent lighter than Mizuno's AP+ midsole. (Mizuno)
Ultralight mesh on the upper protects from dust and debris while providing exceptional breathability. (The North Face)
Combination of materials that wrap around the top of the foot.
The lower part of a shoe upper that is attached to the sole.
A shock-absorbing cushioning compound that provides an efficient and smooth toe-off motion. Shoes with this compound promote comfort with exceptional cushioning and are ideal for continuous force impact. (Mizuno)
A type of glueless, seamless upper construction in which one material is bonded to another using high-frequency radio waves.
Wet Grip outsole:
An outsole made from a special blend of organic and non-organic components and designed to enhance traction on wet surfaces. (Asics)
A bi-directional outsole that breaks through water. The outsole improves grip in all conditions. (Mizuno)
Carbon rubber at high impact areas of the outsole to improve traction at heel strike. (Mizuno)
Functions as a spring that cushions during the foot plant and propels the foot into subsequent stride stages. (The North Face)
Carbon rubber outsole material that offers exceptional abrasion and traction properties. (Saucony)
Premium carbon rubber outsole material that offers exceptional traction and high-wear properties. (Saucony)
Carbon rubber outsole material with superior durability. (Saucony)
When the heel sits at the same height as the toes. A zero-drop shoe means your foot is lying flat.
Running Insight, a Formula4Media LLC publication, August 2013