People have been wearing shoes to protect their feet for millennia – in fact, the oldest known shoe dates back to around 7-8000 BCE and was found in Fort Rock Cave in the US State of Oregon.
The basic purpose of shoes has changed little in 10,000 years, but design features and technology has come a long way since then – so to help you understand more about the features of modern shoes, here we answer the question, what is the bottom of a shoe called?
First lets talk about the sole
As everyone knows, the bottom of a shoe is called the sole, and for many people, that’s enough.
However, the sole can be divided up into three distinct parts, the insole, the midsole and the outsole.
The insole is the part inside that shoe that is in contact with the bottom of your foot. It is usually made of foam or some other soft material to make the shoe as comfortable as possible.
The midsole is a layer between the insole and the outsole that gives you an extra layer of cushioning.
Not all shoes have a midsole, but when it is there, it helps make the shoe more comfortable and helps absorb the shock of each step. This means most sports shoes will include a midsole in their design since it reduces the impact of running.
The outsole is the part of the shoe that is in contact with the ground. Depending on the type of shoe, it can be made of a range of different materials.
For example, in running shoes, the outsole is usually made of a light rubber that is designed to absorb shock while also giving you a grip on the road or the track.
Work boots, on the other hand, are made of thick hardened rubber that is designed to prevent sharp objects like nails from piercing the bottom of the shoe and causing a foot injury.
Leather was once a popular material for outsoles, but although it is still used, it is not as common as it once was – nowadays, synthetic materials are more prevalent.
The outsole in more detail
The outsole includes the whole of the part of the shoe that is in contact with the ground, but this, in turn, consists of several different elements.
The heel is the part at the back of the shoe directly below the heel of your foot. In many shoes – such as professional-style office shoes – it is raised, although in sports-style shoes and some others,
the heel can be level with the rest of the outsole.
A raised heel can make it more comfortable to walk, and shoes with high heels are commonly worn for fashion purposes or to make a person look taller.
If a shoe has a heel, it also has a waist. This is the part below the foot arch between the heel and the ball of your foot. The waist is the part that isn’t in contact with the ground if you are standing on a flat surface.
Interestingly, the part of the outsole below the ball of your foot doesn’t have a specific name. It’s just part of the outsole!
The tread is the pattern on the bottom of the outsole that is designed to prevent you from slipping. For example, hiking boots usually have large grooves that are designed to give you a good grip when walking over wet rocks or similar surfaces.
Other parts of the bottom of a shoe
There are a couple of other parts of the bottom of a shoe we need to mention too, mostly those that connect other parts or those you can’t see without pulling the shoe apart.
The shank is a piece of solid material place between the insole and the outsole that is designed to make the shoe more rigid and give your foot more protection. It also helps support the arch of your foot when you walk. It can be made of metal, plastic – or even wood.
This is a strip of material between the insole and the outsole that holds them together firmly and ensures they don’t come apart.
The feather, sometimes known as the “feather edge”, is the part of the shoe where the sole meets the upper part of the shoe.
This is simply the place inside the shoe where the heel of your foot rests.
More than just the sole
Although many people might imagine that the bottom of a shoe is simply called the “sole”, as we have seen, it is more complicated than that, and each part has its own specific name.
So hopefully in the future, whenever anyone asks you about what the different parts of the bottom of a shoe are called, now you will be able to tell