Jargon Buster

Biomechanically efficient

A 'biomechanically efficient' runner is one who does not waste unnecessary energy, use or generate excessive forces as they run. This phrase is often used to describe someone whose feet work 'efficiently' without excessive impact forces or rolling movements. See also 'neutral' and 'efficient'.

Biomechanics

The 'bio' part shows it is to do with your body, the mechanics bit says it is about mechanics too. Biomechanics means the way you run and the forces that come into effect as you do.

Blown rubber

This type of rubber has air blown into it. This means it can be lighter, softer and more flexible than standard rubber. It gives better cushioning than normal rubber but is often less durable.

Carbon rubber

This type of rubber has carbon added into it to make it more tough and durable. Normally speaking it is not as soft, light or flexible as regular rubber.

Crash zone

This is the area of your foot that hits the ground first. For most of us this is the area on the outside of the heel. As this is the area where the biggest impact forces are created it is a crucial area in terms of cushioning. What happens at this point can also have an effect on the rest of your foot's motion. (For some people the crash zone may be at the forefoot).

Cushioned (or cushioning) shoe

A shoe that is designed for neutral runners, not over-pronators. (Over-pronators should wear support shoes). It does not have extra support features for over-pronators. Note: a support or stability shoe may offer as much cushioning as a 'cushioning' shoe. The difference is that the support shoe also has stability features.

Cushioning

This is what protects you from the forces of impact (and also toe-off). Different shoes have different amounts of cushioning. It may be focussed in different places. It can be of different densities. Generally speaking heavier runners benefit from firmer cushioning due to higher impact forces.

Efficient

An 'efficient' runner is one who does not waste energy or use excessive forces as they run. This phrase is often used to describe someone whose feet work 'efficiently' without excessive impact forces or rolling movements. See also 'neutral' and 'biomechanically efficient'.

Flat foot

If you have a 'flat foot' you have a low arch. Get your feet wet and then leave a footprint on a tiled floor. If you have a flat foot or low arch your foot print will show almost the whole sole of your foot with the band between heel and forefoot close to the full width of your foot. Low arches usually indicate your feet are prone to over-pronation.

Flex grooves

These are grooves in a shoe to help it bend in the appropriate places. The most common place for flex grooves is in the forefoot, across the ball of the foot. This is a place it is very important for a shoe to bend to allow a smooth running action and toe-off. However flex grooves can be positioned elsewhere to help slow pronation and guide the foot. Flex grooves are often visible from the outside but may be hidden if they are within the midsole.

Flexibility

This is how bendy a shoe is. It is important for a shoe to flex under the forefoot to allow a natural running action. If the forefoot is too rigid it can affect your running style and cause problems with your feet, ankles and throughout your body.

Foot strike

The moment your foot hits the ground.

Forefoot

The front section of your foot - the end your toes are at back to just behind the ball of the foot. This is the area of the foot that drives you forwards. Some runners also land on this area - see 'forefoot strikers'.

Forefoot also refers to the section of the shoe associated with this part of the foot.

Forefoot striker

A runner whose foot lands on the forefoot with each stride.

Gait

The action that you use when you run (or walk). With running shoes the area of your gait that is focussed on is usually what your feet do. The normal gait is for the foot to land on the outside of the heel. The foot then rolls for the forefoot and inside of the foot to also come into contact with the ground as the arch collapses to absorb shock. As you toe off you move onto the inside front of your foot as it stiffens once more to become a more rigid lever propelling you forwards.

Guidance

Running shoes are often built to help your foot follow a correct path. Different features can be combined to encourage and guide your foot through a suitable movement.

Heel counter

A piece of plastic that sits around the outside of the heel - it cups your heel. It is there to give the shoe the correct shape in the heel, give fit and to stop your heel moving inappropriately.

Heel strike

The moment that your heel lands on the ground. Most runners' feet land heel first.

Heel striker

A runner whose feet land heel first.

Heel tab

A piece of material that rises up from the upper at the very back of the heel section of your shoe. It should help to hold your foot securely in the shoe without rubbing or causing discomfort.

High Arch

You can tell whether you have a high arch by leaving a wet footprint on a tiled floor. If you have a high arch you will see only a narrow band, or even no band at all, between the forefoot and the heel on your wet foot print. This indicates a high likelihood of under-pronation. You should choose a flexible and well cushioned neutral shoe.

Insole

The insert that goes in your shoe and sits at the bottom of it. These are usually removable and now feature an increasing numbers of technologies to do everything from aiding fit, cushioning and preventing smells.

Last

The shape of the shoe. The last used to shape the inside of the shoe's upper affects the fit. The 'last' can also refer to the shape of the outside of the shoe, in particular the outsole and midsole. A straighter last is more stable but less responsive.

Lateral

The outside edge of your foot or shoe. The side your little toe is on.

Low Arch

If you have a 'flat foot' it shows you have a low arch. Get your feet wet and then leave a footprint on a tiled floor. Your foot print will show almost the whole sole of your foot with the band between heel and forefoot almost the full width of your foot. Low arches usually indicate your feet are prone to over-pronation.

Lugs

The rubber bumps or tread on the outsole that help give grip. Bigger lugs help grip on softer ground.

Medial

The inside edge of your foot or shoe. The side your big toe is on.

Medial post

This is a measure used to help prevent over-pronation. By putting a piece of firmer material along the medial side of a shoe it helps to reduce excessive rolling over to the inside.

Midfoot

The section of your foot of the shoe between the forefoot and heel.

Midfoot shank

A unit put in the midfoot area of a shoe's midsole that helps to support and guide the midfoot.

Midfoot striker

A runner who has a stride that means their heel and forefoot land at the same time.

Midsole

The part of a shoe between the upper and the outsole. The midsole is the main determining factor in how much cushioning and stability a shoe gives and is where may of the key technologies and features are.

Motion control shoe

A very stable running shoe which has cushioning and support features designed for heavier big runners or those with more severe problems with over-pronation.

Neutral

A runner with a foot which follows the movements it should without excessive pronation. This type of runner should wear a neutral shoe (also called a cushioning shoe).

Neutral shoes

A shoe that is designed for neutral runners, not over-pronators. (Over-pronators should wear support shoes). It does not have extra support features. Note: a support or stability shoe may offer as much cushioning as a 'neutral' shoe. The difference is that the support shoe also has stability features.

Outsole

The bottom of the shoe. The unit, usually made of rubber, that comes into contact with the ground to give you grip.

Over-pronation

When your foot rolls excessively inwards as you run. This leads to increased rotational and twisting forces that can cause injuries. When you run it is normal for your foot to land on the outside of the heel. The foot then rolls for the forefoot and inside of the foot to also come into contact with the ground as the arch collapses to absorb shock. Over-pronation is when your foot rolls too far.

Plantar Fascia

The plantar fascia is a very strong, thick, broad, band of fibrous tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot. It is joined at the heel bone and then spreads out to join across the ball of your foot. The plantar fascia supports the arch of the foot and also helps the foot to act as a lever.

Plantar Fasciitis

A condition where the plantar fascia becomes inflamed or irritated.

Pronation

The inward rolling of your foot from the subtalar joint as you run. When you run it is normal for your foot to land on the outside of the heel. The foot then rolls for the forefoot and inside of the foot to also come into contact with the ground as the arch collapses to absorb shock. This rolling movement is called pronation.

Rear-foot

The back of your foot from the back of the heel through to the arch.

Responsiveness

The extent to which a shoe is light and flexible, allowing you to get a good feel for the ground and to push the pace.

Ride

The feel of a shoe as you run and your foot moves from one stage of your gait into the next. A good shoe should have a smooth feel with one part of your foot's motion flowing comfortably and imperceptibly into the next.

Shank

A unit put in the midfoot area of a shoe's midsole that helps to support, guide and stabilise the midfoot.

Sockliner

The insert that goes in your shoe and sits at the bottom of it. These are usually removable and now feature an increasing numbers of technologies to do everything from aiding fit, cushioning and preventing smells.

Sole

The bottom of the shoe that comes into contact with the ground. This needs to offer grip and give durability while still remaining flexible in the key areas.

Stability

A good shoe encourages your foot to go through the correct movement with each stride. The most common flaw in a runner's biomechanics is over-pronation. A shoe with good stability helps to reduce this excessive rotation. There are now a whole range of technologies and design features to help make a shoe more stable.

Stability shoe

These shoes include the same kind of cushioning technologies as neutral shoes but in addition to this they have features to give extra support and guidance to slow and reduce over-pronation. These measures usually include a medial post.

Strike zone

This is the area of your foot that hits the ground first. For most of us this is the area on the outside of the heel. As this is the area where the biggest impact forces are created it is a crucial area in terms of cushioning. What happens at this point can also have an effect on the rest of your foot's motion. (For some people the strike zone may be at the forefoot).

Supination

Supination is when your foot rolls outwards. Sometimes people who under-pronate are referred to as supinators. However it is extremely rare for this to actually happen - with the foot actually rolling outwards from landing. Under-pronation, where the foot does not pronate enough, is more common but still very rare. Some people make the mistake of thinking they under-pronate (or supinate) as their outsoles show wear on the outside of the heel. This is not usually caused by under-pronation though. It is usually just because this is a high wear area as it is where heel strike happens. It is correct for supination to happen for a short period at the end of the foot's movement to turn it into a more rigid lever. Under-pronators should buy a pair of flexible and well cushioned shoes.

Support shoe

These shoes include the same kind of cushioning technologies as neutral shoes but in addition to this they have features to give extra support and guidance to slow and reduce over-pronation. These measures usually include a medial post.

Toe-box

The front of the upper of the shoe given its name as it where your toes are. Your shoe should have some space in the toe-box to prevent you stubbing or bruising your toes as your feet swell and move slightly as you run.

Toe-off

The final stage of your foot's movement as it leaves the ground from your toes.

Torsion

Your forefoot and rear foot have a measure of freedom to move and rotate separately. This is called torsion. Shoes may have features to allow an appropriate amount of torsion. Too much torsion can cause injury through excessive twisting forces and too little means your foot is not able to adapt to the terrain you're running on.

Under-pronation

Under-pronation is where the foot does not pronate enough. It is still very rare. Some people make the mistake of thinking they under-pronate as their outsoles show wear on the outside of the heel. This is not usually caused by under-pronation though. It is usually just because this is a high wear area as it is where heel strike happens. Under-pronators should buy a pair of flexible and well cushioned shoes.

Upper

The part of the shoe that your foot sits inside and is joined to the midsole. It should fit snugly at the heel and midfoot with more room in the toe-box. The lacing should adjust to enable you to achieve a suitable fit.

 

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