Retail Focus Thursday: The Heel Counter/ Heel box

Let’s differentiate between the heel counter and a lateral flare of the out sole.

The heel counter refers to the back part of the upper of a shoe that actually holds the heel in place (see left above).

The lateral flare is part of the outsole, where it is enlarged laterally, to create stability to a shoe. (see right above). It does this at the expense of speeding up pronation (we usually strike on the outside of the heel, creating a greater sidtance to travel in the same amount of time; again, another post for another time). Good idea for one problem, but often creates another.

The heel counter is necessary, because as the foot pronates from its initial contact with the ground through midstance, the calcaneus moves laterally (or as shoe pro’s say “it everts”).  If the calcaneus does not encounter something to abut up against (like the heel counter), to stop rearfoot pronation at the appropriate time, it will continue to evert and the medial arch will collapse.

“So what” you say? Excessive rearfoot motion, like this can not only cause prolonged midfoot pronation (remember it pronates to absorb shock to midstance, then supinates to create a rigid lever to push off of. Click here if you need a pronation review), but is a common cause of heel blisters. How many times do you remove a clients shoe (hopefully you are removing their shoes and looking at their feet before selling them some shoes) and you notice a “bump” (and sometimes a blister) on the back of the heel (see above) and the outer portion of the heel box is worn on the inside of the shoe? Hmm, sounds like too much room in the heel box.

What causes too much room in a heel box? Narrow heels (or calcaneii , as we like to say) or literally, too much room. The “too much room” scenario often happens when you put a woman’s heel (usually narrow) in a men’s shoe (often wide)

A little lost? Have no fear;  the complete shoe fit program (with IFGEC certification if desired) is coming in the next few months. Watch here, on Facebook or Twitter for the announcement.

The Gait Guys…Shoe afficianado’s. Bringing you the facts so you can make better decisions….

heel counter image from: www.hughston.com