Walking Shoe Construction Guide

What They Mean by Boards and Lasts

ABEO 3400
ABEO 3400. Walking Company

Shoe Shapes Determined by Last Type

Look at the bottom of the shoe to see which last the shoe was formed on.

  • Curved last: A thin strip connects the heel and ball of the foot. This makes the shoe light and flexible and is intended for people with a high arch. It's also more common on lightweight shoes and racing flats.
  • Semi-curved last: This is more flexible than the straight last, yet more stable than the curved last. It has a wider strip connecting the heel and ball of the foot. It is intended for people with normal arches and people who don't overpronate.
  • Straight last: This is the least flexible and the most stable kind of last, and it also results in the heaviest shoe. If you drew a line from the middle of the heel to the middle of the toe, it would be symmetrical. Motion control shoes often have straight lasts. They are intended for people with flat feet.

What is Your Arch Type? Wet Test

To tell what type of foot you have, dunk your foot in the water and then place it on a surface that will leave an imprint of your foot. If the ball and heel of your foot are not joined or are joined by a narrow band, then you have a high arched foot. If they are joined by a wide band, then you have a normal foot. If they are joined by a really wide band and have little flare where the arch should be, then you have a flat foot.

Types of Shoe Construction Lasts

Besides the shape of the last (curved, straight, semi-curved) the term last also refers to how the shoe upper is connected to the midsole.

This has an effect on the weight and flexibility of the shoe. Remove the insole of the shoe and you can find out many things about its construction.

  • Strobel Last: This is the most common type of last seen in athletic shoes, and it is used because it is both stable and light in weight. You will see stitching around the bottom of the upper, attaching it to a layer of material that is then glued to the midsole.
  • Slip lasted shoes: You will see a sewn seam running the length of the shoe if it is slip lasted. These shoes are the most flexible and are less stable. You might see this construction in a racing flat. This is good construction for feet with high arches.
  • Board lasted shoes: Under the insole, a cardboard board runs the length of the shoe. This is a very stable and less flexible construction. Board lasted shoes are good for flatter feet.
  • Combination lasted shoes: These shoes have a cardboard in the rear half, and a seam up the front half. These are more flexible than board lasted shoes, and more stable than slip lasted shoes.

Outer Sole

Carbon rubber is very durable, but is heavy and not very flexible. A blown rubber outsole is lightweight, but not very durable.

Walking Shoe Guide
1. Walking Shoe Guide Intro
2. Top Picks for Shoes by Shoe Type
3. What Do Shoe Lasts and Shapes Mean?
4. Flex Test Your Walking Shoes
5. How to Get Fitted for Walking Shoes
6. Finding the Right Shoe Store
7. Walking Shoe Reviews

Based on article contributed by Paul Adams, 3/97.

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