Anatomy of a Shoe! [Part 2!]

Everything you possibly wanted to know about shoes, and... a bit more!

All the different components of athletic shoes should work together to keep the foot protected, balanced, and optimized in performance. Athletic shoes of various sports have variations of the anatomical characteristics listed above to enhance performance of the foot. 

Refer to the diagram in the previous blog post to help you learn the terms and their functions in regards to their placement on the shoe!


Upper – the entire portion of the shoe that covers the foot 

Sole – the entire portion of the shoe that the foot rests upon

           Shoe upper + Shoe sole = entire shoe

Toe box – the horizontal and vertical space near the tip of the shoe to accommodate the toes, comes in different shapes 

Vamp – the upper, middle section of the shoe were the laces are located – Velcro fasteners may also be found in the vamp section

Laces – one of the common closure types of shoes (Velcro is another one) – the purpose of laces is to anchor the shoe firmly onto the middle portion of your foot 

Eyelets – a round cutout in the vamp section of the shoe to allow the passage of laces, the resistant material that encircles the eyelet is called the eyestay 

Tongue – a thick flap of material that sits underneath the laces to protect the top of the foot from pressure of the laces 

Top line – the top edge of the upper portion of the shoe

Achilles notch – always found at the back of the shoe, this notch keeps the Achilles tendon from encounter irritation from the shoe

Heel counter – stiff material employed to reinforce the shape of the back portion of the shoe, helps with shoe fit and shoe stability 

Outsole – the outsole is the portion of the shoe that directly contacts the ground 

Quarter – the portion of the shoe that covers the heel and connects it to the vamp


Athletic shoes for different sports and recreational activities have modifications of the characteristics listed above to help enhance the wearer’s performance and to protect the wearer’s feet. For example, basketball shoes have a much higher top line (hi-top shoes) to help keep the ankle in place and reduce the incidence of ankle sprains. Soccer and football cleats have large studs on the bottom of the sole (connected to the outsole) to provide traction on the playing surface. So next time you’re in a shoe store with a friend, impress them with your knowledge of shoe anatomy. 

Beverly Hills Foot and Ankle, P.A. and Dr. Nisha Krishnan thank you for taking the time to read our blog! We welcome you to call us for an appointment today at (352) 513-4867!

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