Learn The Basics of Running Shoes Anatomy

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Running shoe heel counter

Heel Counter

Heel counter usually wraps around the heel of your foot, and it is either a solid or plastic material inside the shoe that is designed to hold your foot in place.

Running shoe toe box

Toe Box

You can find it in the front of shoe, where your toes are  Larger toe boxes have been the recent trends in minimalist shoes, since they allow your toe to move and claw when you are running.

You will need a degree of movement in the toe box as when we run our feet swell up, sometimes as much as an extra half a size. Trail shoes often have extra leather or plastic on the outside of the toe box to protect your prized digits against flint and rocks.

Since most of use swell our toes when we run, this is a must to consider. Trail running shoes usually has a plastic protector to protect your toes from rocks, flint and other materials.

I personally like a larger toe box or has a decent toe box, since I can move my toes when I am running.

Not the last one, but this can be curved, semi-curved or straight, this differs to supinators, neutral or pronators. This is entirely dependent to the shape of the medial line. When the arch is higher, the inward V is curved called “curved last”. While the foot is flat inward curved under the arch, it is called “straight last”.

Other thing to remember for last, is the way the upper was attached to the midsole, depending on what kind of last was used, will indicate how stable or flexible a running shoe is.

Running shoe height


Height has become important these past few years, especially from minimalist folks. The term “heel-to-toe drop” simply means the difference from the heel and forefoot of the shoe.

The purpose of height is the smaller the drop, the more likely it is that you’ll midfoot strike instead of heel striking. Though some people have to ‘work’ it to stop heel striking in shoes that has no drop or whatnot, others will midfoot strike in a shoe with a 12mm difference.

Either way, you are introducing shocks to your entire body every time you land. Heel strike is being absorbed by bones and joints, while midfoot strike will be absorbed by your muscles.


Hope this Running Shoe Anatomy can help you when you are shopping for that new running shoes, and these marketing tactics that they employ won’t work on you since you are armed with knowledge and knows what you wanted. In case I missed something, please let me know in the comments and please do share this to your friends, hope it helps them too

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