Running shoes buying guide

How to pick the best pair of running shoes for your foot type
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  • Updated:10 Mar 2008

04.Elements of a shoe

Anatomy of a shoeUpper


  • The top layer of material that holds your foot to the sole.
  • The material used and the design of the upper are crucial because it can assist in keeping your foot dry and cool.
  • The upper should also be resilient and not tear during normal use.


  • Between the outer sole and the upper material, the midsole is where the protective foam layer and cushioning is located.

Medial post

  • The section built inside the middle or the arch section of the midsole.
  • Most manufacturers make it a contrasting colour to the rest of the sole to indicate that the shoe provides additional support.
  • The bigger and harder it is, the more support it gives against over pronation (your foot rolling in). Shoes that provide the right amount of support for your feet can reduce the chance of injury recurrence by up to 20%.

Foam layer 

  • The ‘soft’ feeling you experience when you try on a pair of shoes depends on the quality of the top layer of foam.
  • Most foam layers are made of EVA, which is hundreds or thousands of foam cells that contain air or gas.


  • Located in the mid-sole under the foam layer, this is the patented technology that provides cushioning and improves the shoe’s durability.
    It could be a liquid gel, grid or wave plate, depending on the brand.

Heel counter

  • The internal ‘cup’ that wraps around your heel. It’s designed to help keep the foot stable and prevent excessive movement within the shoe.


  • Covers the instep of the foot, protecting it from the laces

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