Medical City Dallas

Baylor, Scott & White Plano


Anatomy of the Shoe

dallas foot expert shares anatomy of a shoeis designed to fit the foot.  Just like the feet, with its complex network of bones, ligaments, and tendons, well-made shoes are constructed with many parts that work together to create comfort for the feet.  Poor construction and inferior materials make the difference between feet that feel great and feet that hurt.

What are the parts of a shoe?

Upper—This is the part of the shoe that people see.  It is the “body” of the shoe that surrounds the foot.

Vamp—The front section of the upper.  It goes over the toes and part of the instep.

Quarter—The back section of the upper covering the heel.

Tongue—This part of the shoe can vary in design, but its purpose is to protect the foot from debris.  The tongue can be formed by the vamp, or it can be stitched into the shoe.  The apron tongue is often seen on athletic shoes such as those used in golf.  The bellows tongue serves a similar purpose of keeping foreign objects away from the feet, and it is stitched into the shoe.

Toe Cap—Not all shoes have toe caps, but this piece of leather or metal is placed over the vamp in the area of the toes.  It provides reinforcement and protection.

While the upper is easily seen and assessed, the internal structure of the shoe is important as well.

Counter—Found in the heel, this part of the shoe helps to hold its shape and offers stability to the feet.

Toe Box—Providing structure, shape, and protection to the toes, this area is very important for comfort.  A narrow toe box can cause and aggravate foot conditions such as corns, ingrown toenails, and bunions.

Shankpiece—Sitting between the insole and the outsole, it can be made of a variety of materials.  Its purpose is to provide shape to the shoe and support to the foot.

The Sole—this is the bottom part of the shoe and consists of three parts.

Outsole—The visible bottom part of the shoe is called the outsole.  It is often made of rubber, although leather is sometimes used.  The purpose of the outsole is to provide grip, stability, and protection.

Midsole—Fitted in the middle of the three soles, this piece adds to the thickness giving shoes a more sturdy appearance.

Insole—Commonly misunderstood, the insole is not the same as an insert.  This part of the shoe holds the other pieces together, and is attached to the shoe with stitching, glue, or staples.

Heel—Whether high or low, this part of the shoe is attached to the outsole, and provides balance and height.


Well-made, supportive shoes give your feet the comfort that they deserve.  If your shoes cause foot pain, it’s time for a new pair.  Before you shop, see Drs. Joel Brook and David Northcutt for a thorough evaluation of your feet.  They will help you to understand your unique foot type, and advise you on the best shoes and orthotics for your needs.  Call our Dallas or Plano, TX offices today, or schedule an appointment online.

"I did 3 EPAT treatments and it gave me tremendous relief from my plantar fasciitis. I highly recommend this for anyone who is dealing with PF. Also, the physical therapist Dr. Brook sent me too is fantastic. I am definitely on the mend and so glad I did EPAT."- All H. 5 star
"Dr Northcutt is a fantastic physician. My first surgery with him (although painful), went very well. A couple of issues (with his staff) needed to be corrected, I appreciated his calm and professional demeanor and he corrected those issues promptly. He sets the bar high (the mark of a great physician), and that is the key reason why I'm coming back to him to correct my other foot. I would highly recommend him."- She B. 5 star
"The staff at Dallas Podiatry Works could not have been more courteous, helpful, and professional in doing their job. They made me feel comfortable when I was there, which is certainly appreciated. They answered all the questions that I had and just made each visit the most pleasurable that it could be. I would highly recommend them to anyone needing this type of care."- Joseph B. 5 star
"My experience was a good one from pre-op to post -op. I saw the doctor right before my surgery.He explained the process to me and my husband. The recovery nurse was great. It was neither crowded or chaotic as some day surgery centers. My foot is doing well as I follow instructions. I look forward to my one week progress visit!"- Patricia T.5 star
"I had dealt with a painful foot problem for five months and had seen three different Doctors before seeing an article in D Magazine about Dr. Joel Brook. Dr. Brook took one look at my foot, explained the causes for my pain and set me up on a successful treatment plan. He is very knowledgeable, thorough and exhibits a caring attitude. I highly recommend him."- Ginger W. 5 star
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Join the 50,000 happy feet that have found relief at Dallas Podiatry Works! Our Dallas podiatrist and Plano podiatrist provides 5-star-rated foot care and ankle care. Our advanced foot care includes children's foot care, sports-related foot injuries, bunion treatment, bunion removal surgery, toenail fungus treatment, ingrown toenail treatment, hammertoe treatment, claw toe treatment, neuroma treatment, heel pain relief, limb salvage, wound care, arthritis treatment, safe pedicure, medicures, corn removals, callus removals, wart removals and more.
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