The Best Materials for Athletic Shoes

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Athletic shoes are footwear that is specifically designed for sports or other physical activities. As a result, athletic shoes are typically designed with specific materials that offer flexibility, support, and stability. Athletic shoes are comprised of a variety of different materials that range from shoe to shoe, as well as within a single pair of shoes. The best materials for an individual's athletic shoes are often based on individual preference and foot structure.

Men's athletic shoes are available for purchase at shoe stores, sporting equipment stores, and online at websites like eBay. Determining the best materials for a pair of athletic shoes requires understanding the structure of athletic shoes, the mechanics of the human foot, as well as the types of materials available for the manufacture of athletic shoes.

Structure of the Athletic Shoe

Athletic shoes consist of various materials based on the different parts of the athletic shoe. Thus, having a basic understanding of the structure of the athletic shoe provides a good starting point for determining the best materials for athletic shoes.

Upper

The upper part of the athletic shoe is the soft body of the athletic shoe and is usually made up of a combination of lightweight materials. Materials used in the upper should provide stability, comfort, and a secure fit. The upper also consists of the toe box, heel counter, and the achilles notch.

Last

The last refers to the basic shape of the athletic shoe. Athletic shoes typically come in three basics shapes including, straight, curved, and semi-straight. The weight of the materials used varies depending on the basic shape of the athletic shoe.

Insole

The insole is the removable part of the inside of the athletic shoe. The insole is typically made up of material that provides cushion to the midsole of the foot, as well as the ball and heel.

Midsole

The midsole is the part of the shoe that sits underneath the insole. The midsole provides stability and disperses the pressure of the foot.

Outsole

The outsole refers to the very bottom of the shoe that is in direct contact with the ground. This part of the athletic shoe is usually comprised of a very durable and stable material.

The Mechanics of the Foot

Having a basic understanding of the mechanics of the foot also helps consumers choose athletic shoes with the right materials for their individual foot shape and structure. These foot mechanics include a buyer's arch type, as well as the foot's natural gait.

Arch Type

The arch of the human foot is made up of the tarsal and metatarsal bones, and is subsequently strengthened by various tendons and ligaments. The arch of the foot supports the weight of the human body and affects a person's posture. All buyers have one of three arches including, a flat arch, a medium arch, or a high arch.

Determining a consumer's arch is important in determining what type of athletic shoe is necessary and thus what materials are best suited to support an individual's arch. For consumers who are unsure of what the arch of their foot is, there is a simple at-home test called the "wet foot test". The buyer dips their foot in water and places a foot imprint on a surface that reflects the imprint. The more severe the indent from inner to outer edge of the foot, the greater the arch from flat to high.

Natural Gait

In addition to determining a consumer's arch type, it is important to understand one's natural gait. A consumer should aim to purchase a pair of athletic shoes that support an individual's natural gait. Athletic shoes typically support different natural gaits with different materials and design structures.

In order to determine a buyer's natural gait, the consumer should examine the outsole of their current athletic or walking shoe. Natural gaits fall into one of four categories including, under pronation, neutral pronation, mild overpronation, and severe overpronation. These categories describe whether the shoe wears more excessively on the outside edge of the shoe, inside edge of the shoe, or fairly evenly. Further, natural gait often parallels specific arch types.

Consumers with underpronation and neutral pronation should look for athletic shoes with materials that provide neutral support. Consumers with mild overpronation should aim to purchase athletic shoes with more stable materials. Finally, consumers with severe overpronation should purchase athletic shoes with materials custom to providing motion control.

Types of Athletic Shoe Materials

There a variety of materials used in the construction of the various parts of the athletic shoe. Some materials are versatile and cover various parts, while others are suitable for only one part of the shoe. The following are the best materials for athletic shoes.

Rubber

Rubber is the best material for constructing the outsole of the shoe. The outsole of the shoe is either made from carbon rubber or blown rubber. Blown rubber is a softer material and is better for consumers who need more comfort and flexibility. Carbon rubber is a harder material and is also quite durable.

Synthetic Mesh

Synthetic mesh is the best material for the upper of the shoe for consumers who need medium stability and support. Synthetic mesh is durable and lightweight. Synthetic mesh is also weather-resistant and easy to clean.

Polyurethane

Polyurethane is a stronger, more durable version of rubber. It is the best material for the midsole of the athletic shoe because it provides maximum comfort and support. Polyurethane comes in either a gel or a foam form. This material is ideal for protecting the joints by absorbing impact as the shoe hits the ground with each stride.

Vinyl

Vinyl is the best material for the insole layer of the athletic shoe. Vinyl provides flexibility, durability, and the necessary cushion for ease of motion control.

Plastic

Plastic is the best material to use for the heel counter of the athletic shoe. The plastic material reinforces the heel area and increases the shoe's stability.

Leather

Leather is a good material to incorporate into the upper of the shoe for those consumers who need maximum stability. For example, runners with severe overpronation should consider athletic shoes with leather material incorporated into the upper of the shoe for motion control.

How to Buy Men's Athletic Shoes on eBay

eBay has a wide variety of men's athletic shoes available on eBay ranging from synthetic mesh materials to leather materials, and everything in between. Further, eBay provides men's athletic shoes from a range of brands that offer specialised support for different arch types and gaits. For example, if you are interested in men's athletic shoes with significant leather in the upper because you have over pronation issues, simply type men's leather athletic shoes into the keyword search box within the eBay website portal. After you click the search button, a list of options is then populated for you to view.

Whether you are looking for athletic shoes made of a specific material or are interested in seeing what options are available, eBay makes the buying process easy and affordable. One feature that assists with your purchasing is the eBay Deals page. Simply navigate over to the eBay Deals page and check out all of eBay's great deals on Men's Footwear, including men's athletic shoes from various sellers.

Conclusion

Modern men's athletic shoes come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. With today's technology, they also come in a wide variety of materials. However, not all materials are created equally. Ideal men's athletic shoes should be comfortable and durable. Further, they should range in flexibility and stability depending on an individual's natural gait and arch type. Often, picking the right athletic shoes means picking athletic shoes made of the best materials.

Today, this entails understanding the basic structure of the athletic shoe, as a single pair of athletic shoes are made up of more than one material. With a cursory understanding of both the structure of the athletic shoe and the mechanics of the foot, any consumer has the tools to pick the right athletic shoe made with the best materials for their individual needs.
 
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