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Check out our shoe-lingo decoder so you won’t have to rely on the sales guy (or gal) to get a Cinderella fit from your new sneakers.
Also called a sock liner, the insole is a removable foam insert that sits under — and often conforms to the shape of — your foot to help the shoe fit better. Many manufacturers also sandwich extra devices (with proprietary technologies) between the insole and midsole in the heel and forefoot areas to add cushioning and shock absorption.
Sneaker treads, or outsoles, typically come in two forms: carbon rubber (usually all black) or a combination of colorful blown rubber and black carbon rubber (like that of Mizuno’s Wave Inspire 5 running shoe, shown here). “Carbon rubber is more durable and can provide more traction, while blown rubber is softer and lighter for more flexibility and less weight in your stride,” says Garrett Sheehan, a customer experience coach at Road Runner Sports in San Diego. Trail-shoe outsoles are almost always carbon rubber, and the deeper their lugs, the better they are for rocky terrain.