The sole plays a secondary role for many people when choosing new shoes. Not only can it make a big difference visually, but most importantly in terms of comfort. The materials used, the shape of the sole, and other factors largely determine the characteristics of the shoe—for example, walking on icy or unpaved roads, jogging, standing for long periods of time, and in many other situations. Therefore, you should have a basic understanding of the sole, its material, shape, and function in order to make the best choice in the future.
There are many different variations on the sole
There have been huge differences between the soles in terms of appearance. For example, they have different colors. Most of the time, the soles are deliberately designed to be inconspicuous in order to blend into the overall picture, but there are also shoes that deliberately stand out. The most prominent example of this is the red sole of the Louboutin brand.
The shape of the sole is also eye-catching: there are thick platform soles, heels in various versions, or flashing soles with LED lights.
But the “intrinsic value” of shoe soles is also very different, although it is not obvious at first glance. In modern footwear, innovative technologies are often used, which should support the respective purpose of the model as much as possible.
For example, there are special shoes for jogging, orthopedic soles to compensate for misalignment, breathable soles for particularly hot weather, and many other special features designed to maximize the comfort and functionality of the wearer. There are many types of shoe soles, so you should not only pay attention to the appearance but also their characteristics when buying.
What are the functions of the sole?
In order to better evaluate the “intrinsic value” of the sole, it is important to understand the function of the sole. Because this is not only used for visual purposes but also has a significant impact on the possible use, comfort, and many other functions of the corresponding shoe. Because the sole has the following basic functions:
Prevent environmental impact:
Cold, wet, hot, ice-there are many scenes where the environment has high requirements on the soles. Not only must it be strong enough to withstand them, but it must also guarantee the best protection for the feet.
Withstand “force” from weight or friction:
Another challenge of the sole is the “use” of the shoe because this has various effects. This includes pressure caused by weight and friction between the sole and the foot.
At the same time, there is friction between the sole and the ground, causing a certain amount of wear. Continuous exercise can also cause kinks, bends, or other stresses on the soles, which must be compensated to provide maximum comfort.
Compensation for soil conditions:
The unevenness of the ground must also be compensated to a certain extent by the sole. This means protecting your feet from sharp stones, broken glass, or other hazards. At the same time, if the shoes support the best balance, they can prevent the risk of spraining the ankle and reduce the ligaments and tendons of the foot.
Stability as the “backbone” of shoes:
The sole is usually the hardest part of the shoe, so it has a certain degree of stability. Therefore, it is also called the “backbone”. Nevertheless, it must provide sufficient flexibility for natural movement, so that the sole must master the real balancing act to meet these two requirements.
Decoupling the feet from the external climate heat:
Especially on very hot or very cold days, shoes also have the function of adjusting the foot climate. The sole plays an important role in this regard because it protects the feet from burns even on hot surfaces. At the same time, in the cold season, it can isolate the feet from the low temperature of the ground to prevent hypothermia and diseases.
Easily bring a carefree feeling:
Despite this isolation function, the sole should be as light as possible. This increases the comfort of the wearer.
Prevent moisture penetration or formation:
Another protective function of the sole is moisture resistance. Although it is not unique, it is also responsible for transporting moisture to the outside or keeping it outside. Therefore, when choosing new shoes, breathability and water resistance are two important points.
Sustainability through recyclable materials:
The sustainability of shoe soles also puts forward higher and higher requirements. At best, they are environmentally friendly materials that can be recycled and are sustainable in production. They must also not contain any harmful substances.
Allow natural movement:
As mentioned earlier, modern shoe soles are often equipped with innovative technology. These not only allow natural movement but also actively promote it. This is especially important for shoes that you wear for sports or shoes that you want to walk for a long time or for a long time.
Ensure slip resistance by sticking to the ground:
The most important thing is, but not only that, the sole is very important in winter to prevent slipping. In addition to the materials used, the contour of the sole is also decisive. Therefore, it must be selected according to the purpose of the shoes.
The elasticity of free movement:
An important keyword has already mentioned flexibility because the high-quality sole allows the foot to obtain maximum freedom of movement without neglecting its protective function. The more natural the movement of the foot, the healthier it is at the same time. Therefore, the sole must be as flexible as possible.
Meet the fashion requirements:
For many people, optics naturally plays an important role when they buy new shoes-even the soles. Although this is often inconspicuously integrated into the overall picture, eye-catching variants such as high heels, platform, or colored soles are also popular. When buying shoes, of course, pay attention to functionality and quality, as well as the appearance of the sole.
Get the best quality at the lowest price:
Finally, the cost cannot be ignored. As we all know, quality has its price, but there is still a big difference in the cost-effectiveness of the sole. Therefore, the most expensive is not necessarily the best choice.
Therefore, when choosing new shoes, you should (more) pay attention to the soles in the future. This ensures that the model sits comfortably on the foot, is best suited for the purpose, can withstand environmental influences, and provide adequate protection. This will promote your foot health and your happiness in wearing new shoes.
The shape of the sole makes this difference
When it comes to the shape of the sole, the first thing worth looking at is its structure: because there is no such thing as a sole, it is usually composed of several layers. The outer layer, which can be said to be the surface that touches the ground, is the so-called outsole. However, inside is the deck (brand) sole. This layer touches the feet.
If necessary, additional layers can be added between these soles. It is usually insoles, bumps and midsoles. You can also use insoles, for example, to get more warmth, better foot climate or to solve orthopedic problems in winter. Many individual shoe soles take different forms of this interaction:
One-piece sole heel, that is, the heel area is higher than the forefoot-how much depends on the corresponding model.
Thin sole with half sole, later installed, made of slightly molded rubber.
The sole just over the sole of the foot is the so-called sole joint.
The sole gains a similar height in the heel area as the heel sole, but has a straight transition-that is, there is no actual “heel”.
The classic sole extends from the heel to the toe.
An unusually thick but consistent sole, that is, no raised heel area.
The rubber sole has a clear contour and is suitable for difficult surfaces.
Bottom of the shell:
The edge of the sole is pulled up slightly on the sides similar to a shell-to provide better protection.
In addition, depending on the shape, there is a difference between the shoe and the sole type. For example, golf soles or ridge soles, to name just two examples.
The inner workings of the soles are also very different because nowadays the soles usually contain the most modern technology. For example, these include GORE-TEX or so-called “beads”, which improve breathability, which is small balls in the sole to provide better cushioning. The sole is never composed of two material surfaces glued together. However, the materials are relevant.
Choosing the right material-depends on the purpose
Depending on the intended use, you have different requirements for shoes. For example, in winter, these must provide anti-slip and warmth. On the other hand, in the case of sports shoes, lightness, flexibility, and cushioning are required. The material has a significant impact on these characteristics of the sole and its possible use. There is a difference in the sole
Sole made of rubber is considered to be particularly heat-resistant, strong, and flexible. It best protects your feet from external influences, and is abrasion resistant even on rough surfaces-however, it has a negative effect on breathability and flexibility in the cold.
The soles made of wood are considered sustainable and durable. They also bring great stability, which automatically improves the posture of the wearer. In addition, shocks are well absorbed and the feet are optimally protected. However, wooden soles are not (more) comfortable and usually require special manufacturing to fit properly.
Shoe soles made of rubber are also called crepe soles. They are relatively expensive due to the complexity of production but provide excellent cushioning and maximum comfort. This material is wear-resistant, and most importantly: sustainable.
As a material, cork is particularly impressive due to its high degree of comfort. However, on its own, it is not suitable as a sole, so for example it is mixed with rubber. Then cork can show its advantages, especially in orthopedic shoes, in addition to comfort, but also good shoe climate, breathability, and sustainability.
In shoes, leather is very popular as a natural material, and the same is true in the field of shoe soles. The leather is ecological and breathable. It is also considered to be tear-resistant and durable. However, leather soles can become slippery when wet.
Before you buy the next pair of shoes, check what material the sole is made of and whether it is suitable for the intended use. This provides you with comfortable shoes that meet your requirements, and you can have more fun because they are not only good-looking but also practical.
Common soles of shoes
There are many kinds of shoes soles available in the current market. The soles or shoes manufacturers must determine what performance and standards their products should meet and choose the materials for their manufacture. Of course, different shoes manufacturers have additional requirements for the shoes soles.
Generally speaking, for shoes manufacturers, the requirements for shoes soles include lightweight, low friction, firm grip, the stability of leather, a more extensive range of using temperature, and resistance to chemicals and oils, etc. Well, in the market, what are the common materials used in shoes?
Here is a detailed guide to the materials of the shoes soles.
Learn more about these 14 kinds of soles, recommended reading:14 Common Kinds of Soles Used in Shoes.
Look at the “intrinsic value” of the sole before buying shoes
In addition to the shape and material of the sole, they are also different in the technology used as mentioned earlier. For example, there are special running shoes, winter soles, breathable soles, and many other special functions. Especially high-priced shoes, the soles often hide various technological features. Therefore, it is worthwhile to know the details of the sole before buying and to take these details into consideration when making a decision.