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  • Published: 07 December 2021

Footwear comfort: a systematic search and narrative synthesis of the literature

  • Hylton B. Menz   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-2045-3846 1 &
  • Daniel R. Bonanno 1  

Journal of Foot and Ankle Research volume  14 , Article number:  63 ( 2021 ) Cite this article

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To provide a narrative synthesis of the research literature pertaining to footwear comfort, including definitions, measurement scales, footwear design features, and physiological and psychological factors.

A systematic search was conducted which yielded 101 manuscripts. The most relevant manuscripts were selected based on the predetermined subheadings of the review (definitions, measurement scales, footwear design features, and physiological and psychological factors). A narrative synthesis of the findings of the included studies was undertaken.

The available evidence is highly fragmented and incorporates a wide range of study designs, participants, and assessment approaches, making it challenging to draw strong conclusions or implications for clinical practice. However, it can be broadly concluded that (i) simple visual analog scales may provide a reliable overall assessment of comfort, (ii) well-fitted, lightweight shoes with soft midsoles and curved rocker-soles are generally perceived to be most comfortable, and (iii) the influence of sole flexibility, shoe microclimate and insoles is less clear and likely to be more specific to the population, setting and task being performed.

Footwear comfort is a complex and multifaceted concept that is influenced not only by structural and functional aspects of shoe design, but also task requirements and anatomical and physiological differences between individuals. Further research is required to delineate the contribution of specific shoe features more clearly, and to better understand the interaction between footwear features and individual physiological attributes.

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Footwear plays an essential role in protecting the foot from trauma and facilitating efficient and pain-free movement when performing a wide range of routine, occupational, recreational, and sporting activities. The selection of footwear is influenced by economic, cultural and functional factors, with comfort frequently being reported as one of the most important considerations in a range of settings [ 1 , 2 , 3 ]. Comfort can be defined as the state of being physically relaxed and free from pain, although the mere absence of pain does not fully constitute the positive state of being comfortable. Rather, comfort is a broader construct which also incorporates the absence of other unpleasant physiological sensations (such as rough textures, extremes in temperature or excessive moisture) and the presence of highly subjective feelings (such as ease, support and contentment) [ 4 , 5 ].

In addition to facilitating a general sense of wellbeing, the use of comfortable footwear is also considered to have a range of practical advantages, as it may facilitate physical activity [ 6 ], enhance sporting performance [ 7 ], and reduce the incidence of injury [ 8 ]. Therefore, identifying the footwear design, physiological and psychological factors which influence comfort could assist in the development and manufacture of improved footwear for a wide range of population groups, and potentially have both individual and societal benefits. Accordingly, the objective of this study was to provide a narrative synthesis of the research literature pertaining to footwear comfort, including definitions, measurement scales, footwear design features, and physiological and psychological factors.

A systematic search was initially conducted in December 2020 and updated in August 2021. The Ovid platform was used to explore MEDLINE (1946 to present), AMED (1985 to present) and Embase (1974 to present) by applying the search string ((footwear or shoe*) and comfort*).mp , limited to human and English language papers. All study designs were considered. Articles addressing comfort of footwear and/or insoles were included, but studies on hosiery, cast walkers or ankle-foot orthoses were excluded. This search was supplemented by a title and abstract search of Footwear Science , as this journal is not indexed in MEDLINE, AMED or Embase. The Ovid search yielded 1131 documents, and after the removal of 328 duplicates, 803 documents were screened by title and abstract. Following title and abstract review there were 120 relevant documents, and after full-text screening 77 documents were included. The Footwear Science search identified 104 documents which was reduced to 24 after full-text review, giving a combined total of 101 documents [ 1 , 3 , 5 , 7 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 , 13 , 14 , 15 , 16 , 17 , 18 , 19 , 20 , 21 , 22 , 23 , 24 , 25 , 26 , 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 , 36 , 37 , 38 , 39 , 40 , 41 , 42 , 43 , 44 , 45 , 46 , 47 , 48 , 49 , 50 , 51 , 52 , 53 , 54 , 55 , 56 , 57 , 58 , 59 , 60 , 61 , 62 , 63 , 64 , 65 , 66 , 67 , 68 , 69 , 70 , 71 , 72 , 73 , 74 , 75 , 76 , 77 , 78 , 79 , 80 , 81 , 82 , 83 , 84 , 85 , 86 , 87 , 88 , 89 , 90 , 91 , 92 , 93 , 94 , 95 , 96 , 97 , 98 , 99 , 100 , 101 , 102 , 103 , 104 , 105 ] (see Fig.  1 ). The most relevant manuscripts were selected based on the predetermined subheadings of the review (definitions, measurement scales, footwear design features, and physiological and psychological factors). A narrative synthesis of the findings of these studies was then undertaken.

figure 1

Flowchart of included papers

Characteristics of included studies

Most studies were laboratory-based, repeated measures designs where comfort was measured under different footwear and/or insole conditions [ 14 , 15 , 18 , 20 , 21 , 22 , 23 , 25 , 26 , 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 , 33 , 35 , 36 , 37 , 38 , 39 , 41 , 43 , 44 , 45 , 46 , 47 , 48 , 50 , 51 , 52 , 53 , 54 , 55 , 57 , 58 , 60 , 61 , 62 , 63 , 64 , 65 , 66 , 67 , 68 , 69 , 70 , 71 , 73 , 74 , 75 , 76 , 77 , 78 , 79 , 81 , 82 , 83 , 84 , 85 , 86 , 87 , 89 , 90 , 93 , 97 , 98 , 100 , 101 , 102 , 103 , 104 , 105 ], but there were also 13 surveys [ 1 , 3 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 16 , 19 , 24 , 40 , 56 , 88 , 92 , 96 ], eight clinical trials [ 12 , 34 , 42 , 49 , 59 , 94 , 95 , 99 ], three qualitative studies [ 13 , 17 , 91 ] and three reviews [ 5 , 7 , 72 ]. Sample size ranged from 5 to 1524, and primarily included healthy young adults [ 10 , 14 , 15 , 17 , 18 , 22 , 28 , 31 , 32 , 35 , 37 , 43 , 44 , 45 , 46 , 48 , 50 , 53 , 54 , 56 , 58 , 60 , 64 , 67 , 74 , 75 , 76 , 78 , 79 , 83 , 88 , 90 , 101 , 102 , 103 , 104 ], but also children [ 71 , 91 ], older people [ 1 , 52 , 63 , 76 ], participants with medical conditions (such as diabetes [ 16 , 27 , 68 , 105 ], rheumatoid arthritis [ 29 ], patellofemoral pain [ 73 ], plantar fasciitis [ 99 ], hallux valgus [ 93 ] and non-specific musculoskeletal disorders/symptoms [ 25 , 95 ]), specific occupational groups (such as military personnel [ 42 , 69 , 85 , 89 ], factory workers [ 9 , 12 ], school teachers [ 11 ], kitchen staff [ 13 ], hospital staff [ 13 ], coal miners [ 40 , 41 ] and police officers [ 94 ]) and sportspeople (such as runners [ 26 , 30 , 36 , 39 , 47 , 49 , 65 , 66 , 70 , 77 , 82 , 84 , 86 , 98 ], basketball players [ 61 , 62 , 92 , 100 ], soccer players [ 38 , 87 , 97 ], cyclists [ 20 , 21 ], aerobic dancers [ 34 ], skiers [ 51 ], rugby players [ 59 ], people attending gymnasiums [ 3 ], badminton players [ 55 ] and tennis players [ 96 ]).

Definitions of comfort

No studies provided a specific definition of comfort, although four studies were designed to explore how comfort is conceptualised. Alcantara et al. [ 10 ] developed a list of 74 adjectives related to footwear design and manufacture and asked 67 people to evaluate 36 shoes using these adjectives on a 5-point scale. Principal components analysis demonstrated that perception of casual footwear could be described on the basis of 20 independent concepts, two of which pertained to comfort. The first was characterised as ‘pure comfort’ and included the positive adjectives good fitting, soft, comfortable, flexible, light, relaxing, smooth, and the negative adjectives rough, hard, strong, heavy, rigid, and robust. The second was characterised as ‘thermal comfort’ and included the positive adjectives fresh, light, breathable, and the negative adjectives hot, heavy, and safe. Similar findings were reported in a qualitative study of footwear comfort perceptions of standing workers by Anderson et al. [ 13 ], who found that positive adjectives used were cushioning, arch support/contour, breathability/ventilation and negative adjectives used were hardness, heaviness and heat. A study of younger women’s perceptions of dress shoes identified ten criteria which differentiated between comfortable and uncomfortable shoes, the strongest being absence of pain, feeling, sound, and texture [ 17 ]. Finally, in a qualitative study of children, the adjectives soft and padding were most frequently used to describe comfortable shoes, while hard, tight, loose and heavy were used to describe uncomfortable shoes [ 91 ].

Comfort measurement scales

A wide range of measurement tools have been used to quantify comfort, including simple dichotomous responses [ 11 , 12 , 29 , 94 ], ranking footwear conditions in order of preference [ 14 , 31 , 32 , 33 , 36 , 47 , 48 , 52 , 60 , 63 , 64 , 65 , 76 , 77 , 79 , 81 ], 4-point [ 42 , 80 ], 5-point [ 37 , 40 , 45 , 58 , 70 , 76 , 97 ], 6-point [ 59 ], 7-point [ 47 , 64 , 79 , 87 ], 9-point [ 57 ] and 12-point [ 41 ] Likert scales, 10-point numerical rating scales [ 43 , 78 ], and 100 mm [ 15 , 16 , 18 , 19 , 20 , 21 , 27 , 28 , 30 , 35 , 39 , 48 , 49 , 53 , 56 , 63 , 64 , 65 , 67 , 68 , 71 , 73 , 74 , 77 , 79 , 82 , 85 , 89 , 90 , 93 , 99 , 104 , 105 ], 150 mm [ 22 , 25 , 26 , 36 , 46 , 50 , 55 , 61 , 62 , 66 , 69 , 75 , 83 , 84 , 98 , 100 ] and 170 mm [ 44 ] visual analog scales. The anchor statements indicating the lowest possible comfort score included ‘not comfortable at all’ [ 19 , 20 , 21 , 22 , 25 , 26 , 30 , 39 , 49 , 50 , 53 , 55 , 56 , 61 , 62 , 63 , 64 , 65 , 73 , 79 , 82 , 83 , 84 , 85 , 89 , 93 ], ‘very uncomfortable’ [ 27 , 28 , 40 , 41 , 45 , 46 , 58 , 68 , 74 , 78 , 79 , 98 ], ‘least comfortable’ [ 44 , 76 , 80 , 90 ], ‘extremely uncomfortable’ [ 48 , 59 , 89 ], ‘not comfortable’ [ 71 , 75 ], ‘not at all comfortable’ [ 15 , 18 ], ‘not acceptable’ [ 37 , 70 ], ‘totally disagree’ [ 10 ], ‘least comfortable imaginable’ [ 35 ], ‘not satisfactory’ [ 42 ], ‘very bad comfort’ [ 43 ], ‘very, very low’ [ 47 ], ‘minimum comfort’ [ 69 ], ‘maximal pain/discomfort’ [ 99 ], ‘not very comfortable’ [ 100 ], ‘completely uncomfortable’ [ 104 ], ‘extremely bad’ [ 57 ] and ‘unbearable discomfort’ [ 87 ]. The anchor statements indicating the highest possible comfort score included ‘most comfortable imaginable’ [ 19 , 20 , 21 , 22 , 25 , 26 , 30 , 35 , 39 , 46 , 50 , 53 , 56 , 61 , 63 , 65 , 73 , 79 , 82 , 83 , 84 ], ‘very comfortable’ [ 18 , 27 , 28 , 40 , 41 , 49 , 58 , 68 , 71 , 74 , 75 , 78 , 79 , 98 , 100 ], ‘most comfortable’ [ 44 , 55 , 62 , 76 , 80 , 85 , 90 ], ‘extremely comfortable’ [ 48 , 59 , 87 ], ‘just right’ [ 37 , 70 ], ‘totally agree’ [ 10 ], ‘very much’ [ 15 ], ‘excellent’ [ 42 ], ‘very good comfort’ [ 43 ], ‘not at all uncomfortable’ [ 45 ], ‘very, very high’ [ 47 ], ‘maximum comfort’ [ 69 ], ‘maximal comfortable’ [ 64 ], ‘no pain/discomfort’ [ 99 ], ‘completely comfortable’ [ 104 ], ‘most conceivable comfort’ [ 93 ] and ‘extremely good’ [ 57 ]. Most studies documented an overall comfort score for the whole foot/shoe, while others reported separate comfort scores for specific regions of the foot/shoe [ 19 , 21 , 22 , 36 , 57 , 59 , 64 , 66 , 71 , 73 , 75 , 83 , 87 , 104 ]. The vast majority of tools considered comfort to be a unidimensional construct, although some incorporated additional perceptual components including in-shoe ‘climate’ [ 55 ], thermal comfort [ 51 , 67 , 103 ], dampness [ 67 ] and air permeability [ 67 ].

Seven studies specifically addressed the psychometric properties of comfort scales. Mündermann et al. [ 83 ] assessed the reliability of 150 mm visual analog scales documenting comfort pertaining to forefoot cushioning, heel cushioning, arch height, heel cup fit, shoe heel width, shoe forefoot width, and shoe length in runners wearing standardised running footwear with four inserts of differing hardness. Overall, intra-test repeatability was high (intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC] 0.80 and improved with four to six repeated sessions, although it was noted that some participants reported highly variable comfort ratings. A subsequent study by these authors demonstrated consistency of scores using this scale with repeated sessions over 3 weeks [ 84 ], and Lam et al. [ 62 ] confirmed the reliability of the same 150 mm visual analog scale in basketball players (ICCs from 0.61 to 0.80). Mills et al. [ 79 ] compared the reliability of documenting comfort (overall, cushioning of the forefoot, arch and heel, and support of the arch and heel) in participants wearing their usual footwear and four different inserts using 100 mm visual analog scales, 7-point Likert scales and ranking, and found that ranking was the most reliable measure, followed by the visual analog scales and Likert scales. Similarly, Lindorfer et al. [ 64 ] assessed 30 runners over six repeated sessions, and found that ranking provided the highest reliability (Pearson’s r  = 0.07), followed by a 100 mm visual analog scale ( r  = 0.67) and 7-point Likert scale ( r  = 0.63). More recently, Bishop et al. [ 19 ] reported a detailed psychometric evaluation of a new running shoe comfort assessment tool incorporating four components measured with a 100 mm visual analog scale (heel cushioning, forefoot cushioning, shoe stability, forefoot flexibility and an overall comfort score). Reliability of the overall score was excellent (ICC 0.88) and good for each of the component scores (ICC > 0.70).

In contrast to these positive findings, Hoerzer et al. [ 50 ] examined intra-rater reliability of 150 mm visual analog scales and dichotomous (yes/no) ratings of insole comfort, and found that less than a third of participants provided reliable scores across the two sessions. These findings suggest that psychological factors, such as mood, may influence the perception of comfort and that documenting a mean score across multiple sessions may be necessary to obtain acceptable reliability. Furthermore, a recent systematic review of comfort scales by Matthias et al. [ 72 ] demonstrated that few studies explicitly evaluated validity, and many exhibited methodological bias, such as lack of participant and assessor blinding.

Footwear design features associated with comfort

Three studies explored the effect of footwear fit on comfort. Miller et al. [ 78 ] evaluated associations between foot anthropometric measurements and comfort while wearing three different running shoes, and found that a range of measurements (particularly related to shoe fit in the forefoot and toes) influenced comfort perceptions. However, these associations varied across the three styles, suggesting that fit may differentially influence comfort depending on other characteristics of the shoe. In the second study, Branthwaite et al. [ 22 ] assessed the effect of toe-box constriction on comfort by comparing three toe-box shapes in ballet pumps (round, square and pointed). Although there was no difference in comfort scores, none of the shoes were considered to be comfortable. Most recently, Matthias et al. [ 71 ] assessed comfort ratings of children aged 8 to 12 years while wearing school shoes that were appropriately fitted for size, one size too large, and one size too small. The fitted shoes were rated as the most comfortable overall, while the smaller size was rated as too tight in the heel and toe regions.

Midsole cushioning

Eight studies evaluated perceived comfort while wearing footwear that varied according to midsole cushioning, including running shoes [ 39 , 60 , 78 , 90 , 98 ], basketball shoes [ 61 ], casual shoes [ 63 ] and military boots [ 85 ]. All but one study [ 63 ] reported that participants found the footwear with softer midsole materials to be more comfortable, although Sterzing et al. [ 95 ] also demonstrated that the use of harder materials under the forefoot did not negatively affect comfort provided that the material under the rearfoot was soft. However, documentation of midsole cushioning across these studies was inconsistent, with some studies using no objective measures [ 60 , 61 , 78 ] and others reporting either density (which ranged from 0.15 to 0.24 g/cm 3 ) [ 39 , 90 ] or hardness (which ranged from Shore A 25 to 66) [ 63 , 85 , 90 ]. Furthermore, only three of these studies [ 61 , 63 , 98 ] specifically manipulated midsole cushioning while controlling for other shoe characteristics, making it difficult to attribute differences in comfort to cushioning alone.

Heel elevation

Nine studies examined the effects of heel elevation on comfort perception while wearing high-heels [ 28 , 53 , 54 , 56 , 101 ], casual shoes [ 75 , 76 ] and running shoes [ 23 , 82 ]. In the two running shoe studies, heel elevations (i.e., heel-toe drop) ranged from 0 to 15 mm, but no differences in comfort were found during treadmill walking [ 23 ] or running [ 82 ]. In contrast, significant reductions in comfort were consistently reported in each of the studies examining high-heels [ 28 , 53 , 54 , 56 ] and casual shoes [ 75 , 76 ] when heel height was increased by between 45 and 76 mm. However, comfort perception was higher in participants who were habituated to wearing high heels [ 28 ], and three studies reported that the discomfort associated with heel elevation could be partly ameliorated by the use of heel cups [ 56 ] and arch supports [ 53 , 54 , 56 ]. An interaction between heel height and the sagittal plane angle of the heel seat (‘wedge angle’) was also reported by Witana et al. [ 101 ], who found that comfort while wearing high heels could be optimised by selecting the most appropriate wedge angle for a corresponding heel height.

Five studies evaluated the influence of shoe weight on perceived comfort in military boots [ 85 , 89 ], safety footwear [ 18 ], running shoes [ 60 ] and basketball shoes [ 62 ]. However, only three studies provided objective measurements of shoe weight (ranging from 335 to 800 g) [ 62 , 85 , 89 ] and none controlled for other shoe characteristics. Nevertheless, all reported that the lightest shoe was perceived to be the most comfortable. In addition to the absolute weight of the shoe, the distribution of mass may also be important. Chiu et al. [ 33 ] added weights to different locations of casual canvas shoes while keeping the total weight constant, and found that most participants preferred rear-weighted shoes and perceived them to be lighter than when the weights were added distally.

Sole flexibility/bending stiffness

Four studies examined the effect of sole flexibility on comfort: two in running shoes [ 37 , 78 ], one in coal mining boots [ 41 ], and one in people with diabetes [ 105 ]. In running, comfort related to sole flexibility may depend on running speed. Miller et al. [ 78 ] compared comfort while standing, walking and running in participants wearing three different commercially-available running shoes, and found that although comfort ratings differed according to the activity, the most comfortable shoe on average was the most flexible. However, Day et al. [ 37 ] tested participants in shoes with and without carbon fibre plates and found that participants preferred the standard shoe when running at 14 km/h, but the stiffer shoe at 17 km/h. The coal mining boot study assessed comfort when coal miners wore two standard boots (one with a stiff shaft and one with a flexible shaft), and each boot was then modified to create a more flexible sole by cutting slits across the sole at the level of the metatarsophalangeal joints. Although most participants preferred the boot with a flexible shaft combined with a stiff (unmodified) sole, there was large variability in the comfort scores and no significant effect among the different boot types [ 41 ]. Finally, Zwaferink et al. [ 105 ] found that adding a 3 mm carbon-fibre stiffening insert to extra-depth shoes in people at risk of foot ulceration resulted in lower plantar pressures, but had no detrimental effect on comfort.

Midsole geometry

Seven studies evaluated the influence of various aspects of midsole geometry on comfort, including offloading/rocker-sole footwear (in healthy individuals [ 43 , 66 ], older people [ 52 ], people with diabetes [ 27 , 68 ] and people with rheumatoid arthritis [ 29 ]), and the application of lateral wedges to footwear for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis [ 44 ]. In the offloading footwear studies, rocker-sole shoes were perceived to be more comfortable than standard footwear [ 29 ] or forefoot offloading shoes (i.e., shoes with no ground contact at the forefoot designed to avoid toe-off) [ 27 , 43 ], and rigid rocker-sole shoes more comfortable than semirigid rocker-sole shoes [ 68 ]. However, no substantial differences in comfort were found across three different heel curvature designs (short-parallel, long-parallel and oblique) in running shoes [ 66 ], adding foam to the plantar midfoot region of the outersole [ 52 ], or following the addition of a small (2 degree) lateral heel wedge designed to alter knee joint moments when walking [ 44 ].

Outsole geometry

Three studies evaluated the effect of outsole geometry on comfort [ 38 , 59 , 87 ]. In soccer boots, de Clerq et al. [ 38 ] assessed the effect of various stud configurations on comfort when performing cutting manoeuvres, and found that the sole design with the least number of studs was the most comfortable. Kryger et al. [ 87 ] compared two soccer boot designs that varied according to stud shape, upper material and boot mass, and found that the most comfortable boot generated lower pressures under the first and fifth metatarsal heads. Similarly, in rugby, Kinchington et al. found that hybrid turf shoes were more comfortable than studded boots [ 59 ].

Two studies evaluated the effect of lacing on comfort. Dobson et al. [ 40 ] reported lace-up boots to be more comfortable than slip-on boots in coal miners, while Hagen et al. [ 58 ] compared different styles of lacing in seven-eyelet running shoes, and found that comfort varied according to the number of eyelets laced and how tightly the laces were tied. The most comfortable technique involved the use of three eyelets laced while keeping the upper two eyelets unlaced, although this was perceived to be less stable and was associated with higher pronation velocity while running compared to tightly lacing all eyelets.

Upper material

Four studies demonstrated that shoes with more compliant upper materials may be preferable. Jordan et al. [ 58 ] compared three styles of casual footwear and found that shoes generating lower pressures on the dorsum of the foot were perceived as more comfortable, while Melvin et al. [ 75 ] found that shoes constructed from soft suede were more comfortable than shoes constructed from a stiffer leather upper. In soccer boots, Sterzing et al. [ 97 ] found that despite two models having identical stud configurations, the model with the softer heel counter was perceived to be more comfortable. Finally, Saeedi et al. [ 93 ] evaluated people with hallux valgus wearing their own shoes, shoes with a round toe-box and shoes with a stretchable fabric upper, and found that the shoes with the stretchable upper generated lower toe pressures and were perceived to be the most comfortable.

Shoe microclimate

Four studies evaluated the influence of shoe microclimate (i.e., temperature, moisture and ventilation characteristics) on comfort, generally in the context of footwear worn in cold environments (such as trekking boots [ 15 ], safety boots [ 45 ] and ski boots [ 51 ]), but also in sandals used in combination with footwarmers indoors [ 103 ]. The findings of these studies were inconsistent, in that higher temperatures were found to be associated with improved comfort perceptions in ski boots [ 51 ], when adding insulation and toecaps to safety boots [ 45 ] and in indoor sandals [ 103 ], but lower temperatures were found to be more comfortable in trekking boots [ 15 ]. Likely explanations for this inconsistency are the range of ambient temperatures each study was performed in (which varied from − 6.8 to 23.3 °C) and different methods for measuring in-shoe temperature. The role of moisture and ventilation has been less studied and is inherently difficult to delineate from temperature effects. However, the study of trekking boots by Arezes et al. [ 15 ] found moisture retention to be of secondary importance to temperature in determining comfort levels.

Twenty-six studies have been conducted to assess the effects of insoles on footwear comfort. However, it is difficult to draw clear conclusions from the available literature due to the variation in populations studied and wide range of insole designs used. Broadly, the evidence suggests that the addition of insoles improves footwear comfort in casual footwear [ 95 ], factory footwear [ 12 ], running shoes [ 25 , 26 , 49 , 84 ], high heels [ 53 , 54 ] and police boots [ 94 ]. However, no significant improvements in comfort have been reported when adding flat cushioning insoles to walking shoes [ 74 ] or running shoes [ 86 ], or contoured insoles to cycling shoes [ 20 ]. Furthermore, the effect of insoles on footwear comfort is influenced by the fit of the shoe, as it has been observed that insoles may decrease comfort if they make the shoe too tight [ 34 ].

Studies comparing different insole designs have generally found that softer, more flexible insoles are perceived as more comfortable (in casual footwear [ 99 ], running shoes [ 31 , 67 , 80 ] and military footwear [ 42 , 69 ]). However, comfort perceptions related to insole hardness may vary according to an individual’s occupation, as Anderson et al. [ 14 ] have reported that people standing for long periods at work prefer soft materials under the heel and forefoot but firmer materials under the arch. The influence of insole shape is uncertain, with studies reporting flat insoles to be more comfortable than contoured [ 48 ], contoured more comfortable than flat [ 69 , 100 ], or no difference between the two [ 73 ]. Furthermore, the effect of insole customisation is unclear. Fully customised orthoses have been reported to be more comfortable than semi-customised insoles in runners [ 36 ], while reductions in comfort have been observed with the addition of anterior wedges when performing a load lifting task [ 46 ] and lateral forefoot posting when cycling [ 21 ].

One study assessed the effect of repeated wear on comfort while wearing badminton shoes [ 55 ]. Badminton players performed direction change manoeuvres while wearing new shoes and then the same shoes after 96 h of wear (6, 2-h training sessions per week for 8 weeks). The worn shoes were perceived to be significantly less comfortable in relation to in-shoe climate, medio-lateral stability, and overall fit, although performance in direction change manoeuvres was not adversely affected.

Physiological and psychological factors associated with comfort

Two studies assessed sex differences in comfort perception in running shoes, with inconsistent findings [ 57 , 60 ]. Kong et al. [ 60 ] instructed healthy men and women to walk and run in three types of footwear (cushioning, lightweight and stability) and asked them to select the model that they found most comfortable. No differences were noted between walking and running, but women were four times more likely to select the lightweight shoe compared to men, which the authors attributed to women weighing less and therefore preferring a shoe with less metabolic energy cost. In contrast, Isherwood et al. [ 57 ] analysed running biomechanics in men and women wearing the same running shoe model, and despite noting several sex-related differences in kinematics and kinetics, found no difference in perception of cushioning, stability, or overall comfort.

Foot-related factors

Four studies have evaluated associations between foot characteristics and comfort, specifically addressing foot alignment [ 14 , 78 , 104 ] and tactile sensitivity [ 81 ]. In relation to arch height, Zifchock et al. [ 104 ] compared comfort ratings while wearing custom and semi-custom orthoses, and found that participants with high arches reported greater arch and heel comfort in the semi-custom device which provided less rearfoot control when walking, while Anderson et al. [ 14 ] assessed perceptions of nine different insoles which varied according to the hardness of the heel, midfoot and forefoot in participants working in occupations that require prolonged standing, and found that those with lower arched feet preferred insoles with harder material in the midfoot. Miller et al. [ 78 ] compared comfort perceptions when walking and running in three shoes that varied in relation to stiffness, cushioning and shape, and found that heel eversion angle was negatively associated with comfort in the stiffer, harder soled shoe. Finally, Mills et al. [ 81 ] compared minimalist and cushioned shoes during running and found that individuals who ranked the cushioned shoe as most comfortable demonstrated higher sensitivity to mechanical pain at their heel and midfoot.

Perceptual factors

Three studies explored the effects of perceptual factors on footwear comfort. Chamb et al. [ 30 ] evaluated running biomechanics on a treadmill under two footwear conditions (shoe A and B). Identical running shoes were used in both conditions, but shoe B was described to be the “latest model designed to maximize comfort” and more expensive than shoe A. Although no differences in running biomechanics were evident, runners rated shoe B as significantly more comfortable than shoe A, demonstrating that comfort ratings can be biased by marketing and perceived quality related to cost. However, runners’ perceptions of comfort do not appear to be strongly associated with actual cost of shoes. Clinghan et al. [ 35 ] measured plantar pressures, comfort scores and perceived cost of shoes at three price ranges, but found no significant associations, suggesting that comfort is highly subjective and based on individual preferences. Finally, in basketball players, Wang et al. [ 100 ] evaluated comfort perceptions when performing drop landings while wearing insoles that differed according to colour and contour, and found that red insoles were perceived to be more comfortable than white insoles with the same contour.

The objective of this study was to provide a summary and critique of the research literature pertaining to footwear comfort. Overall, the available evidence is highly fragmented and incorporates a wide range of study designs, participants, and assessment approaches, making it challenging to draw strong conclusions or implications for clinical practice. It is evident that footwear comfort is a complex and multifaceted concept, that perceptions of comfort are highly subjective, and that comfort is influenced not only by structural and functional aspects of shoe design, but also anatomical and physiological differences between individuals and the unique requirements of the occupational or sporting activity being performed. Nevertheless, there is sufficient uniformity in key findings to provide some broad recommendations as to how comfort should be assessed and what constitutes a comfortable shoe. A summary of the key factors influencing comfort are shown in Fig.  2 .

figure 2

Summary of factors associated with footwear comfort

Somewhat surprisingly, no studies specifically defined comfort, and a wide range of assessment scales were used. The anchor statements were also highly variable and conceptually inconsistent. For example, some scales considered the absence of comfort as the worst state (with ‘not comfortable’ as the anchor statement), whereas other scales were bidirectional and used anchors such as ‘extremely uncomfortable’ for the lowest possible scores. From a psychometric perspective, it is unlikely that ‘not comfortable’ and ‘extremely uncomfortable’ represent the same construct, so making comparisons between studies using different scales is problematic. Nevertheless, the most widely used overall comfort tools (100 mm or 150 mm visual analog scales) demonstrated moderate to high reliability and could therefore be recommended for future use. However, as suggested by Matthias et al. [ 72 ], it would be advisable to evaluate reliability within each individual study’s sample population, and to conceal the external appearance of the shoe to avoid bias introduced by participant’s perceptions of footwear aesthetics.

Despite the wide range of occupational and sporting groups evaluated in these studies and their different footwear requirements, it would appear that there are some generic design principles that constitute a comfortable shoe. First, a comfortable shoe is one that fits the foot appropriately, although it needs to be recognised that some very specific situations may require excessively tight shoes (e.g., ballet [ 106 ] and rock-climbing [ 107 ]). Second, softer and more compliant materials are generally regarded as being more comfortable than harder materials in the upper, midsole and insole. Third, with the exception of individuals who have become habituated to high heels over long periods of use [ 28 ], lower heel elevation is generally associated with greater perceived comfort. Fourth, the available evidence suggests that lightweight shoes are generally preferred over heavier shoes. Finally, curved rocker-soles appear to be beneficial for comfort compared to flat soles in a range of population groups.

Less consistency was observed for sole flexibility, in-shoe temperature and insoles. The most likely explanation for this is that the effects of these features on comfort are more specific to the population, setting and task. For example, while runners generally prefer a flexible sole, coal miners prefer a more rigid sole, presumably as this facilitates more comfortable ambulation on uneven or unstable terrain. Similarly, while relatively lower in-shoe temperatures are generally perceived as more comfortable under routine climatic conditions (generally temperatures of 5 to 25 °C) [ 5 ], higher in-shoe temperatures are preferred in the context of lower ambient temperatures, such as when wearing trekking or ski boots. Finally, although the evidence broadly indicates that the addition of soft insoles to shoes generally improves comfort, the wide array of insole designs (materials, contour, posting and wedging) makes it difficult to reach definitive conclusions.

Few studies examined how comfort ratings are influenced by the interaction between footwear and individual characteristics of the wearer. Given that comfort is a complex neurophysiological and psychological construct, it is likely that variability in an individual’s body mass, skeletal alignment, joint range of motion, gait pattern, tactile sensitivity, pain perceptions and aesthetic preferences will influence whether they perceive a particular shoe to be comfortable. While the available evidence suggests that foot structure, function and pain sensitivity may influence insole contour and sole hardness preferences, further research is required to optimise the identification of footwear features that are most suitable for an individual’s anatomical and physiological characteristics.

It is worth noting that while comfort is one of the key considerations when selecting footwear, other factors, such as performance and injury risk, also need to be considered and that these requirements are not necessarily compatible. For example, in running shoes, leaving the top two eyelets unlaced is perceived as the most comfortable but also least stable lacing technique, and results in higher pronation velocity which may increase the risk of injury [ 58 ]. Similarly, while older people may find shoes with softer midsole materials to be more comfortable, there is evidence that excessively soft midsoles may be detrimental to balance and therefore increase the risk of falls [ 108 ]. Clearly, comfort is not the only requirement of footwear, and in some circumstances, comfort may need to be compromised to ensure other needs are met. This is particularly true for some types of occupational footwear, where important safety features (such as steel toe caps, rigid upper materials, and non-slip soles) may be detrimental to comfort but are essential for the prevention of workplace injury.

The findings of this review need to be interpreted in the context of several key limitations in the available literature. Firstly, a wide range of comfort measurement tools were used, so comparisons between studies is inherently problematic. Secondly, few studies specifically manipulated individual footwear design features while controlling for other characteristics, making it difficult to attribute differences in comfort to each individual feature. Finally, although we were able to draw some general conclusions regarding factors that influence comfort, it is likely that these factors influence comfort in different ways depending on the specific requirements of the setting and the activity being performed.

In summary, this paper has provided an overview of how footwear comfort is conceptualised and evaluated and has examined the footwear design features and individual characteristics that influence the perception of footwear comfort. Although the literature is fragmented and often inconsistent, it can be concluded that (i) simple visual analog scales may provide a reliable (albeit unidimensional) assessment of comfort, (ii) well-fitted, lightweight shoes with soft midsoles and curved rocker-soles are generally perceived to be most comfortable, and (iii) the influence of sole flexibility, in-shoe temperature and insoles is less clear and likely to be more specific to the population, setting and task. Suggested improvements and directions for future research include (i) specifically manipulating individual design features while controlling for other shoe characteristics, (ii) exploring the influence of shoe microclimate in greater detail, and (iii) examining the interaction between footwear features and individual physiological attributes.

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Menz, H.B., Bonanno, D.R. Footwear comfort: a systematic search and narrative synthesis of the literature. J Foot Ankle Res 14 , 63 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13047-021-00500-9

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research on basketball shoes

The making of orthopedic sneakers focuses on biomechanical design as a solution to the problems listed above; many different technologies combine to provide the right shoe. Orthopedic shoes feature removable insoles, extra widths, more sizing options than the normal shoe. They have uppers that can accommodate forefoot problems, easy fastenings for those who find it difficult or restricting to tie their shoes, and strong and supportive heels. Well cushioned out-soles and mid-soles with flex points absorb impact to reduce joint stress [2]. To obtain the many advantages of orthopedic shoes, podiatrists and sneaker designers work together to figure out the perfect combination of features to provide those in need with the shoe that will help them the most.

Currently most orthopedic sneakers look quite unattractive: they’re excessively chunky and plain colored. Many of them have childish looking Velcro straps, for those who have difficulty tying shoes, but could use an upgrade when it comes to their appearance. Although there is quite a way to go in getting orthopedic shoes to match the look and style of designer sneakers, designers are making progress as they try to get these sneakers for health to look just as good as their stylish counterparts for sports and fashion.

research on basketball shoes

Engineering Athletic Functionality

There are also specialty sneakers designed for certain sports. Professional athletes use their bodies as their means of income, so they need to take care of them. Biomechanics experts at the Nike Sports Research Lab have testers to try their products for a better understanding of what sort of sneakers athletes need to prevent injuries and enhance their performance [3]. Elite athletes also take visits to the lab so that they can be studied and have specialty sneakers made just for them [3]. By using sensors, a camera system, and ceiling grids, researchers in the lab conduct full body studies by slowing down high-speed videos for the design team and scientists to analyze [3]. This technology provides athletes with personally tailored shoes, assuring the wearer maximum performance potential from their sneakers. Such custom tailoring occurs in many sports, including tennis, track soccer, and basketball.

In basketball especially, a shoe’s features are made to enhance an athlete’s performance. Some of the most prominent features of basketball sneakers are the hold of the foot bed, which allows for athletes to more easily and comfortable make trips up and down the court [4]. There are also certain technologies created to help players jump higher (some of which have been banned by the NBA, like the Load N’ Launch technology) [4]. In addition, basketball sneakers have more traction and flexibility than regular ones, allowing for quicker movement. There are also lacing improvements, as the last thing a player would want to worry about is their shoes coming untied during a game [4]. Not surprisingly, the rest of the features and technologies used in basketball shoes are quite like those of orthopedic shoes: both orthopedic sneaker wearers and basketball players must provide their feet with maximum comfort and support. While basketball players may not need their shoes for health reasons, they must make sure the sneakers they wear are sturdy enough to provide them with the support they need during rigorous gameplay. For those who need orthopedic sneakers, just taking a walk down the block might be considered rigorous gameplay when it comes to the demand placed on their feet.

The Perfect Pair

Sneakers are important for a number of reasons – they provide athletes the structure they need to succeed in their sport, and they provide those with health issues with tools that allow them to lead more active, pain-free lives. And for those who don’t play sports or use orthopedics, sneakers spice up their wardrobe without jeopardizing the comfort of their feet. A daily staple to most of our lives, sneakers offer so many designs to choose from that there are at least one pair perfect for everyone.

  • Barna, M. (2017).  Tinker Hatfield’s 10 Tips for Budding Sneaker Designers . [online] Highsnobiety. Available at: https://www.highsnobiety.com/2017/02/16/tinker-hatfield-shoe-design-tips/ [Accessed 26 Jan. 2018].
  • O’Hare, H. (2017).  What Are Orthopedic Shoes? What makes them special? . [online] Pedors. Available at: https://www.pedors.com/blog/what-are-orthopedic-shoes/ [Accessed 24 Jan. 2018].
  • Fast Company. (2010).  How Science Is Used to Design the Perfect Shoe . [online] Available at: https://www.fastcompany.com/1676907/how-science-used-design-perfect-shoe [Accessed 28 Jan. 2018].
  • Grant, N. (2013).  10 Ways Sneakers Can Make You a Better Basketball PlayerGreat Looks . [online] Complex. Available at: http://www.complex.com/sneakers/2013/11/10-ways-sneakers-can-make-you-a-better-basketball-player/basketball-sneakers-better-player-great-looks [Accessed 28 Jan. 2018].
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research on basketball shoes

The 33 Best Basketball Shoes in 2023

Finding your next pair of performance basketball shoes is tough!

Just in the last few years, Converse,, New Balance, and a bunch of Chinese brands have entered an already crowded market dominated by Nike, Adidas, and Jordan Brand.

With so many brands to choose from, how do you decide what shoes to get?

On thehoopsgeek.com we collect and summarize professional sneaker reviews from Youtube channels and blogs to create an always up-to-date list of the most popular basketball shoes.

So far, we have watched or read 1421 reviews of 285 different shoes to create the most comprehensive performance basketball shoe database on the web.

We are also collecting ratings and reviews from users detailing their own experiences to create a user score, separate from the expert rating.

Below you can see a quick overview of the top 33 sneakers, scroll down further to see a more detailed review of each shoe.

Overview of the 33 best basketball shoes currently on the market:

1. nike kd 15.

  • 9.0 rating based on 9 expert reviews
  • The Nike KD 15 is a shoe that has something for every type of player.
  • Best for players looking for a shoe that covers all the bases.

2. Nike Lebron 21

  • 8.9 rating based on 9 expert reviews
  • The Nike LeBron 21 maintains its high level of performance while improving its support and stability.
  • The Nike LeBron 21 is fit for all play styles because of the mix of traction, cushioning and support.

3. Puma MB.01 Lo

  • 8.9 rating based on 4 expert reviews
  • Following the footsteps of the original Puma MB.01, the low-top remains one of the top performance options on the market.
  • Players who want an all-around performer with no weaknesses.

4. Under Armour Curry 11

  • 8.8 rating based on 3 expert reviews
  • The Curry 11 remains a fantastic basketball shoe. The traction is excellent, and the cushioning provides more impact protection.
  • The Under Armour Curry 11 is the perfect shoe for quick and shifty guards.

5. Under Armour Curry 10

  • 8.8 rating based on 8 expert reviews
  • The Curry 10 makes slight improvements and continues to be a top-tier performer.
  • Anyone that utilizes traction to maximize footwork

6. Nike Lebron 20

  • 8.8 rating based on 11 expert reviews
  • The Nike LeBron 20 excels with its bouncy cushion and solid traction, but it has something to offer every player.
  • Quick and explosive players will enjoy this shoe the most.

7. Nike Air Zoom GT Jump

  • The tech-loaded Nike GT Jump's performance is outstanding.
  • Best for players with an explosive play style looking for good cushioning.

8. Nike G.T. Jump 2

  • 8.7 rating based on 6 expert reviews
  • Nike's G.T. Jump 2 has one of the best cushioning setups.
  • Any players who thrive with maximalist cushioning will love the Nike G.T. Jump 2.

9. Nike LeBron NXXT Gen

  • The LeBron NXXT Gen has grippy traction and responsive cushioning.
  • This shoe is a good pick for players who don't need maximum cushioning but still want Zoom.

10. Adidas Harden Volume 7

  • 8.7 rating based on 9 expert reviews
  • The Harden Vol 7 feels quick because of the traction and cushioning setup.
  • The perfect shoe for those with versatile playstyles.

11. New Balance TWO WXY V3

  • 8.7 rating based on 7 expert reviews
  • The TWO WXY V3 is one of New Balance's best basketball shoes because of its fit and traction.
  • Shifty guards who rely on traction will love this shoe.

12. Air Jordan 38

  • 8.6 rating based on 7 expert reviews
  • The Air Jordan 38 takes a step forward with improved support. The traction and cushioning are also solid.
  • This is a perfect shoe for players looking for maximalist containment.

13. Puma All Pro Nitro

  • 8.5 rating based on 7 expert reviews
  • One of Puma's best basketball shoes. The traction is outstanding, and the cushioning is comfortable.
  • Players looking for a versatile shoe that's not expensive will love the Puma All Pro Nitro.

14. Nike Air Zoom G.T. Cut 2

  • 8.5 rating based on 10 expert reviews
  • The Nike Air Zoom G.T. Cut 2 continues to offer plenty of cushioning and solid overall performance.
  • Shifty players who enjoy lots of cushioning

15. Jordan Luka 1

  • 8.5 rating based on 11 expert reviews
  • The Jordan Luka 1 offers fantastic traction and tons of lateral support.
  • Recommended for players that use a lot of side steps and other lateral movements.

16. New Balance TWO WXY V2

  • 8.5 rating based on 5 expert reviews
  • Traction on the TWO WXY V2 is outstanding, but the other features don't disappoint.
  • Ideal for players willing to give up some cushion for the other performance aspects fundamentals will enjoy this shoe.

17. New Balance TWO WXY V4

  • 8.4 rating based on 5 expert reviews
  • The New Balance TWO WXY V4 is a fantastic all-around shoe with improved impact protection from the cushioning.
  • This is the perfect pick for players seeking versatility in play style and court surface durability.

18. Nike KD 16

  • 8.4 rating based on 8 expert reviews
  • The Nike KD 16 is a versatile performer with comfortable, plush cushioning.
  • The shoe has something for all positions. There are no outstanding weaknesses.

19. Nike Cosmic Unity 2

  • 8.4 rating based on 7 expert reviews
  • The Nike Cosmic Unity 2s materials make the shoe an improvement from last year's model, but only slightly.
  • Players that want cushioning but also want to feel low to the ground

20. Puma TRC Blaze Court

  • 8.4 rating based on 4 expert reviews
  • The Puma TRC Blaze Court offers strong traction and comfort at the expense of the materials.
  • Guards with a quick playstyle

21. Adidas Harden Vol. 6

  • One of the best Harden models to date
  • Great shoe for fans of the full-length Boost setup

22. Jordan Zoom Separate

  • The Jordan Zoom Separate is a great option for specific types of players.
  • Best for forefoot heavy players that need the cushion.

23. Nike Sabrina 1

  • 8.3 rating based on 9 expert reviews
  • The Nike Sabrina 1 is an excellent debut sneaker catering to low-to-the-ground players.
  • The Nike Sabrina 1 is best for shifty guard-type players.

24. Jordan Luka 2

  • Luka Doncic's second shoe sees improvements to the lockdown and support.
  • Guards and wings who make quick cuts and stepbacks will benefit the most from this shoe.

25. Puma Stewie 2

  • 8.3 rating based on 5 expert reviews
  • The Puma Stewie 2 is similar to the MB.02. The traction and cushioning are the best features.
  • This shoe is best for players looking for a low-cut version of the MB.02.

26. Nike Ja 1

  • 8.3 rating based on 10 expert reviews
  • Ja Morant's debut sneaker is a good starting point for the young star, with the fit being the best feature.
  • A good pickup for shifty guards who play low to the ground.

27. Air Jordan 37 Low

  • 8.3 rating based on 7 expert reviews
  • The Jordan 37 Low offers the same performance as the 37 for a lower price.
  • A perfect selection for players who want bouncy cushioning in a low-top shoe.

28. Air Jordan 37

  • 8.3 rating based on 8 expert reviews
  • The Air Jordan 37 is a top performer with bouncy forefoot cushioning and strong materials.
  • Recommended for forefoot-heavy players looking for a bouncy setup

29. Nike Zoom Freak 4

  • 8.3 rating based on 6 expert reviews
  • The Nike Zoom Freak 4 is a worthy upgrade in Giannis Antetokounmpo's line.
  • Players looking for solid performance and springy cushioning on a budget will enjoy this shoe.

30. Jordan Zion 2

  • The Jordan Zion 2 is a supportive shoe with traction to boot.
  • Recommended for players that rely on lateral cuts and movements.

31. Nike Kyrie Low 5

  • The excellent traction and light materials make for an excellent budget-friendly option.
  • A great pick for players that rely on quick footwork.

32. New Balance Kawhi 2

  • The Kawhi 2 is an improvement on the 1 in almost every way.
  • Best for forwards and centers that need strong traction and stability.

33. Nike Zoom Freak 5

  • 8.2 rating based on 6 expert reviews
  • Giannis' fifth signature shoe scales back the tech but maintains the performance, such as the traction.
  • The Zoom Freak 5s are best for players looking for a minimal shoe that doesn't sacrifice many features.

research on basketball shoes

Alright, let's take a closer look at the shoes with the best average rating and see what shoe reviewers had to say about them:

The Top 33 Basketball Shoes:

The Nike KD 15 is a shoe that has something for every type of player. Overall rating based on 9 reviews
The Nike LeBron 21 maintains its high level of performance while improving its support and stability. Overall rating based on 9 reviews
Following the footsteps of the original Puma MB.01, the low-top remains one of the top performance options on the market. Overall rating based on 4 reviews
The Curry 11 remains a fantastic basketball shoe. The traction is excellent, and the cushioning provides more impact protection. Overall rating based on 3 reviews
The Curry 10 makes slight improvements and continues to be a top-tier performer. Overall rating based on 8 reviews
The Nike LeBron 20 excels with its bouncy cushion and solid traction, but it has something to offer every player. Overall rating based on 11 reviews
The tech-loaded Nike GT Jump's performance is outstanding. Overall rating based on 8 reviews
Nike's G.T. Jump 2 has one of the best cushioning setups. Overall rating based on 6 reviews
The LeBron NXXT Gen has grippy traction and responsive cushioning. Overall rating based on 6 reviews
The Harden Vol 7 feels quick because of the traction and cushioning setup. Overall rating based on 9 reviews
The TWO WXY V3 is one of New Balance's best basketball shoes because of its fit and traction. Overall rating based on 7 reviews
The Air Jordan 38 takes a step forward with improved support. The traction and cushioning are also solid. Overall rating based on 7 reviews
One of Puma's best basketball shoes. The traction is outstanding, and the cushioning is comfortable. Overall rating based on 7 reviews
The Nike Air Zoom G.T. Cut 2 continues to offer plenty of cushioning and solid overall performance. Overall rating based on 10 reviews
The Jordan Luka 1 offers fantastic traction and tons of lateral support. Overall rating based on 11 reviews
Traction on the TWO WXY V2 is outstanding, but the other features don't disappoint. Overall rating based on 5 reviews
The New Balance TWO WXY V4 is a fantastic all-around shoe with improved impact protection from the cushioning. Overall rating based on 5 reviews
The Nike KD 16 is a versatile performer with comfortable, plush cushioning. Overall rating based on 8 reviews
The Nike Cosmic Unity 2s materials make the shoe an improvement from last year's model, but only slightly. Overall rating based on 7 reviews
The Puma TRC Blaze Court offers strong traction and comfort at the expense of the materials. Overall rating based on 4 reviews
One of the best Harden models to date Overall rating based on 7 reviews
The Jordan Zoom Separate is a great option for specific types of players. Overall rating based on 7 reviews
The Nike Sabrina 1 is an excellent debut sneaker catering to low-to-the-ground players. Overall rating based on 9 reviews
Luka Doncic's second shoe sees improvements to the lockdown and support. Overall rating based on 9 reviews
The Puma Stewie 2 is similar to the MB.02. The traction and cushioning are the best features. Overall rating based on 5 reviews
Ja Morant's debut sneaker is a good starting point for the young star, with the fit being the best feature. Overall rating based on 10 reviews
The Jordan 37 Low offers the same performance as the 37 for a lower price. Overall rating based on 7 reviews
The Air Jordan 37 is a top performer with bouncy forefoot cushioning and strong materials. Overall rating based on 8 reviews
The Nike Zoom Freak 4 is a worthy upgrade in Giannis Antetokounmpo's line. Overall rating based on 6 reviews
The Jordan Zion 2 is a supportive shoe with traction to boot. Overall rating based on 9 reviews
The excellent traction and light materials make for an excellent budget-friendly option. Overall rating based on 7 reviews
The Kawhi 2 is an improvement on the 1 in almost every way. Overall rating based on 8 reviews
Giannis' fifth signature shoe scales back the tech but maintains the performance, such as the traction. Overall rating based on 6 reviews

Picking your next pair of basketball shoes

Picking your next pair of basketball shoes can be difficult. Finding out about the latest releases, reading reviews, checking prices, and getting the right size - it often takes me days or even weeks to settle on a new pair.

Now, maybe I am just really picky when it comes to basketball sneakers, but there is a reason why!

  • They grip the floor and allow quick cuts and crossovers
  • They provide impact protection and reduce the stress on your knees and feet
  • They fit comfortably and lock down your feet tightly
  • They provide support and protect your ankles from rolling

In short: Good basketball shoes will help you to get the most out of your game!

How to find basketball shoes that fit your playing style

The list above is a great way to find basketball shoes that perform well overall, but not every basketball shoe will work the same for different types of players. Quick guards will need different shoes than big and heavy centers.

But how do you know what kind of shoe you need? In the following paragraphs, I want to go into more detail and tell you what to look for to find your perfect fit!

Let's talk about the most important characteristics of basketball kicks and what you want to look for when you are in the market for a new pair:

Style of the silhouette

There are three different styles of basketball shoes out there: Low tops, mid tops, and high tops. Traditionally, basketball players used to play in high tops that completely covered the ankle of players, but nowadays, more and more players are wearing low-tops that look more like regular training shoes. Let's take a closer look at each style and their pros and cons:

Low-cut shoes provide maximum flexibility and are often very lightweight. They are perfect for guards who want to feel light and quick on their feet and don't want to add unnecessary bulk. Bigger and slower guys don't profit as much from low tops and might look for the protection of higher cut shoes. Low-cuts were made most popular by the Kobe signature line:

research on basketball shoes

Mid Tops are a hybrid between low- and high tops and provide a little bit of both worlds: Good flexibility and mobility, but also a decent amount of ankle protection and more stability. Perfect for forwards or wings who don't need all the flexibility of a low top, but also don't like the bulkiness of true high tops. An example of a mid top basketball shoes is the Kyrie 3:

research on basketball shoes

This is the way basketball shoes used to look like for decades. High Tops provide a lot of ankle protection, support and are often nicely cushioned. Perfect for big guys who are looking for maximum protection when they are fighting below the rim and don't mind losing a little bit of flexibility in exchange for more safety. A popular example is the Lebron signature line:

research on basketball shoes

If you plan to do explosive crossovers and quick cuts you need a shoe that provides excellent traction. Nothing is more annoying than slipping every time you try to change directions.

The amount of traction provided by a shoe relies on two factors: the traction pattern and the rubber compound used for the outsole.

Traction pattern:

A very popular traction pattern that is often used in basketball shoes is the "herringbone" pattern. Zig-zag lines of rubber provide grip in every direction and the empty space in between the rubber makes sure that dust doesn't stick to the surface of the sole.

Herringbone traction almost always works; unfortunately, other traction patterns are often hit or miss. Sometimes designers try to get too innovative or focus on storytelling, and you end up with a shoe that needs endless wiping or feels like playing on skates.

Herringbone Traction

Herringbone Traction Pattern

Rubber Compound

The quality of the rubber compound is much harder to judge than the traction pattern. Softer rubber will often work better indoors but attract a lot of dust, hard rubber is a lot more durable but doesn't provide the same grip on pristine hardwood courts. As a rule of thumb, if you have the option between colorways with translucent and solid outer soles, always go with the solid option. A solid rubber outer sole might not look as nice, but it often performs much better especially on dusty courts.

The cushioning of a basketball shoe becomes more important the heavier you are. If you are a 5'6" guard who weighs 140 lbs, you won't need a lot of cushioning, and you will probably prefer the responsiveness and court feel of a firmer setup. But bigger and heavier guys put a lot of pressure on their joints and profit immensely from a softer and more forgiving cushioning.

Nike Zoom Air

Other than traction, cushioning really comes down to personal preference. If you are a quick and light guard, you want to look for a firm cushioning setup like Nike Lunarlon or Adidas Bounce. Cushioning that is too soft will only make you lose court feel and responsiveness.

However, if you are a bigger player or you have a history of knee problems, you will fare much better with a more comfortable cushioning like full-length Zoom Air or Adidas Boost.

If you think of supportive basketball shoes, you probably imagine a bulky high top with a lot of straps and laces. Fortunately, modern basketball shoes have found other ways to provides athletes with the necessary safety and stability. Just look at the shoes which are worn in the NBA today - a lot of players wear low tops that were unimaginable only 20 years ago.

A common support feature used in almost every modern basketball shoe is the outrigger. Usually placed on the lateral side of the shoe, this extension of the outer sole makes the base of the shoe wider and provides a stable platform that protects your feet from rolling.

Other often-used support features are midfoot shanks that provide torsional support and heel counters that lock you into the shoe. But one of the most significant support factors is the fit and lockdown of a shoe. All the support features in the world will not help you if you are sliding side-to-side on every cut because your sneakers are just too wide.

Lateral Outrigger

Lateral Outrigger

If you are recovering from an ankle injury and need even more support around the ankle, you should look into getting an additional ankle brace .

The fit is one of the most important things to consider when buying new shoes. You want to be firmly locked in and not sliding left-to-right or front-to-back at all. If you can, it's always a good idea to try on shoes in a store. If that's not an option, I like to get shoes in two different sizes, keep the better fitting pair and use the return policy for the other one.

If shoes are a little tight in the beginning that's okay, they usually widen and become more comfortable as you break them in. If you are unsure which size to get, or you have unusually wide or narrow feet and you are looking for a particular fit, then check out this list of shoes . You can filter shoes to only include narrow-, or wide-fitting shoes, and find out which model runs large or small by reading the more detailed review.

There is a wide variety of upper materials used in basketball shoes these days ranging from traditional nubuck leather to synthetic mesh or high-tech textile materials like Adidas PrimeKnit or Nike Flyknit.

Cheaper materials like Mesh or other synthetic uppers often start out rather stiff and need a little time to break-in. High-tech materials are often reserved for more expensive signature lines like Air Jordan's or Kobes and are really soft and comfortable from the beginning.

Aside from aesthetics and comfort, modern materials used in basketball shoes all do a very nice job and don't differ too much when it comes to performance. Just pick whatever material you personally prefer and can afford.

Take a quiz to find your perfect pair of basketball shoes

If you are a little overwhelmed by all the things you need to consider, then you might be interested in a simple quiz I developed. You answer a set of simple questions about which type of player you are, whether you plan to play outdoors etc. and the quiz will automatically recommend the best-rated shoe that fits all your criteria. This way you can find a good basketball shoe within minutes instead of browsing the web for hours!

Related Posts:

research on basketball shoes

16 thoughts on “The 33 Best Basketball Shoes in 2023”

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Do you know the best basketball shoe for a very fast, defensive point guard?

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As a defensive guard, I would look for shoes with great traction. You can check out the list at https://www.thehoopsgeek.com/shoe-reviews/ and sort for the best traction and apply other filters as well.

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Thank you for this. It is nice to see a good comparrison that isn’t just “Nike” driven. I like good traction and this helps me ID which shoes provide that traction and support for ankle injury prevention.

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This is a amazing website. Thank you for taking your time to make this because this really helps me what my new pairs of shoes would be. I have a pair Kyrie 5’s right now and i hate the traction on them. i will for sure consider what my next pair of shoes will be it will most likely be the one with the most traction. Yes, i’m a traction freak.

Thanks! Yeah, traction is priority #1 for me too.

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I would recommend Harden vol 3 or Kobe Nxt 360

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Any idea when the Dame 5’s will be reviewed and added to the list?

The Dame 5 was just released in the US. I will add it to the database as soon as the first reviews are dropping!

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Hey Andy, I really want to say thank you for making this page. I am using it for a school project if that is okay with you

You’re welcome! Of course, you can use it for your school project. I am intrigued: what is the project about?

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Hi Sir Andy! I’m a forward player who plays wingman and stretch 4 position. I like a shoe which is light for me because i always want to feel light whenever im playing but also i want a shoe with a great cushioning which will secure my landing. What can you recommend to me? Thanks a lot in advance.

Hey Tristan, check out the list at https://www.thehoopsgeek.com/shoe-reviews/ and sort the list by cushioning, I am sure you can find shoes that fit your criteria there.

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I’m torn. I’ve been through a lot of different sneaker types in 2 decades of playing ball. I’ve had ankle issues for years now due to playing in Nike Shox b-ball sneakers way back when. I switched to low top Kobes for a long time but after another ankle issue started going back to higher tops like the Kobe Elites and now the Hyperdunk 2017’s. Ankle and heel still and issue so was thinking about the Adapt BB but wasn’t sure if it was worth the $. Need to feel locked in and free to cut, jump, and hustle like I want to.

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Very helpful thanks alot 💯

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First, I appreciate this site – the right shoes are critical to how you play, especially how long/often you can go. But I do think a couple of additions to the ratings would go a long way.

I think weight is a key characteristic that is missing here. I expect there is a tradeoff between weight, materials & support. I tried and loved everything about the Harden V3, but it measured and PLAYED heavier than any shoe I’ve played in since the 90’s. I’d rather have super light shoes made with materials that some would consider cheap. The 2012 Hyperdisruptor is still the lightest and my favorite of all time – 35% lighter than Harden V3.

I have similar take on cushion. This is inversely proportional to how high off the court the bottom of your foot is, which in turn is directly relatable to ankle stability. I love bouncy shoes, like 2019 Hyperdunk played awesome except in extreme lateral moves, the sole was too thick.

You could increase usefulness of ratings dramatically if you added weight and total sole thickness under ball & heel of foot. Thickness may be complicated – would need fixture to measure this under some reference player weight.

I agree that weight would be a useful addition but shoe brands don’t publish this information and I can’t weigh every shoe myself. On top of that weight differs from size to size, so it’s even harder to find comparable information. But on top of that, I don’t think shoe weight makes as much of a difference as many believe, a few grams more or less should be barely recognizable considering how much your legs weigh without shoes…

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The 7 best Adidas basketball shoes to dominate in 2024

Posted: December 25, 2023 | Last updated: December 25, 2023

As more and more athletes continue to release signature-line sneakers, one brand continues to dominate that space, with some of the best NBA stars helping to design the best basketball shoes in the world. Adidas continues to make its mark with a range of cutting-edge options in 2024. From innovative performance technologies to sleek and stylish designs, the allure of Adidas basketball shoes remains undeniable. Our comprehensive guide serves as your compass in navigating this landscape, curating a selection of the must-have Adidas basketball sneakers that promise to elevate your on-court performance and align with your individual style.

Whether you’re a guard known for your agility and quick moves, or a forward dominating the paint, our guide is designed to simplify your search for the perfect pair. We’ve meticulously researched and handpicked a variety of options, each tailored to different playing styles and preferences. From the Harden Vol series to the Adizero Select lineup, our expert recommendations ensure that you step onto the court with confidence, equipped with sneakers that combine top-tier performance with a touch of Adidas’ signature flair. Let our guide be your trusted resource, guiding you towards the best Adidas basketball shoes in 2024 that enhance your game while reflecting your personal style and passion for the sport.

  • Where to buy Adidas Kobe Bryant shoes online today
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Best overall shoes:  Harden Vol. 7 Shoes – Flash Aqua/Cloud White/Flash Aqua

Adidas: $160

What do you get when you take a stunning and bold statement colorway and fuse it with a high-performing basketball shoe? You get this Adidas sneaker. The Adidas Harden Vol. 7 Shoes seamlessly blend performance and style, designed for both on-court excellence and off-court flair. These shoes boast a sleek and versatile design that effortlessly transitions between various settings. With a thoughtful construction combining materials for optimal support, flexibility, and breathability, the Harden Vol. 7 Shoes deliver both performance and aesthetics. Featuring Adidas’ advanced cushioning technology, these shoes ensure responsive impact absorption and a comfortable stride. The outsole pattern is designed for excellent traction on diverse surfaces, making them suitable for court play and everyday wear. Ideal for those who appreciate versatile and performance-oriented design, the Adidas Harden Vol. 7 Shoes embody a fusion of style and functionality, all wrapped in a smooth flash aqua color.

Best budget shoes:  Adidas Dame 8 Basketball Shoes – Black/White/Grey

Dick's: $81.97

The Adidas Dame 8 Basketball Shoes effortlessly blend performance and style, catering to both on-court prowess and off-court fashion while featuring a wallet-friendly price tag. With a sleek and versatile design, these shoes seamlessly transition between different environments. Thoughtfully constructed using a blend of materials, they offer a balance of support, flexibility, and breathability, catering to both performance and visual appeal. The shoes feature Adidas’ advanced cushioning technology for responsive impact absorption, ensuring a comfortable and cushioned stride. The outsole pattern is optimized for superior traction on a range of surfaces, making the Dame 8 Basketball Shoes suitable for both basketball action and everyday wear. These shoes are an excellent choice for those who seek a harmonious combination of adaptable design and athletic performance, reflecting a synergy of style, functionality, and affordability.

Best cushioning:  Trae Young 3 Shoes – Core Black/Cloud White/Carbon

Adidas: $140

Ready to ball like you’re gaming on clouds? If that’s the case, these are the Adidas basketball shoes for you. The Adidas Trae Young 3 Shoes effortlessly bring together form and function, tailored to elevate both your game on the court and your style off it. With a dynamic design that transitions seamlessly between various settings, these shoes are as versatile as they are striking. Carefully constructed with a blend of materials, they offer a well-rounded balance of support, flexibility, and breathability, catering to performance and visual appeal alike. Equipped with Adidas’ advanced cushioning technology, they promise responsive impact absorption and a cushioned stride that enhances comfort during wear. The outsole pattern is meticulously designed for exceptional traction on diverse surfaces, making the Trae Young 3 Shoes equally fitting for basketball action and daily activities. Representing the synergy of adaptable design and athletic prowess, these shoes resonate with individuals who value both fashion and function.

Best updated classic:  Adidas T-Mac 3 Restomod Shoes – Cloud White/Royal Blue/Eqt Yellow

Adidas: $150

For those who want to take their scoring skills to a smooth assassin-type level, these are the kicks for you. The Adidas T-Mac 3 Restomod Shoes pay homage to the incomparable scoring prowess of Tracy McGrady. Collaborating with Adidas Basketball, these shoes infuse modernity into his signature sneaker, incorporating a lightweight Bounce midsole for enhanced performance. The synthetic upper is adorned with timeless elements that solidified the classic T-Mac shoe as a pinnacle of excellence. These shoes not only capture the essence of McGrady’s legacy but also combine aesthetics and functionality through innovative design. With a renewed focus on comfort and performance, the T-Mac 3 Restomod Shoes stand as a testament to the enduring impact of a basketball icon.

Most versatile shoes:  Adidas Adizero Rose 1.5 Restomod Shoes – Blue/Core White/Team Semi Sol Orange

When performance matters, you need a basketball shoe that’s going to be able to step up to the challenge — these are those shoes. The Adidas Adizero Rose 1.5 Restomod Shoes pay homage to the early career of Derrick Rose. These shoes from Adidas Basketball fuse classic D-Rose details with Restomod enhancements, showcasing a Lightstrike midsole that offers ultra-lightweight cushioning and a Puremotion outsole for exceptional grip. These upgrades elevate the shoes that were originally designed for one of the fastest and most explosive players ever, now infusing them with a lighter and faster essence. These Adizero Rose 1.5 Restomod shoes encapsulate the essence of Rose’s dynamic playstyle and are a tribute to his legacy on the court. The ultimate Adidas basketball shoes for games, practice, the gym, or somewhere in between.

Best team shoes:  Adidas Adizero Select Basketball Shoes – Off White/Carbon/Wonder Beige

Dick's: $119.99

You want something that’s practical and functional when you decide to opt-in on a single sneaker model for the whole team. This is the Adidas basketball shoe the whole squad can get behind. The Adidas Adizero Select Basketball Shoes epitomize the perfect synergy of performance and flair. Tailored for basketball enthusiasts, these shoes offer a blend of support, agility, and comfort. With meticulous construction, they provide a snug fit and enhanced breathability, catering to both on-court requirements and visual appeal. The cushioning technology embedded within ensures responsive impact absorption, contributing to a smooth and cushioned stride during gameplay. The outsole pattern is carefully engineered to offer superior traction on a variety of surfaces, making the Adizero Select Basketball Shoes ideal for both indoor courts and outdoor play. These shoes represent a fusion of athletic excellence and modern design. Plus, bonus points when the whole team takes the court for tip-off, rocking the same kicks.

Best bold colorway:  Adidas D.O.N. Issue #4 Basketball Shoes – Purple/White/Blue

There are bold colorways, and then there is this version from Adidas. The Adidas D.O.N. Issue 4 Basketball Shoes seamlessly merge style and performance, catering to the needs of basketball enthusiasts. These shoes are designed to provide a harmonious blend of support, agility, and comfort on the court. With meticulous attention to construction, they offer a secure fit and optimal breathability, addressing both on-court demands and visual aesthetics. The integrated cushioning technology ensures responsive impact absorption, contributing to a comfortable and cushioned stride during gameplay. The carefully engineered outsole pattern enhances traction on various surfaces, making the D.O.N. Issue 4 Basketball Shoes suitable for both indoor courts and outdoor play. Representing a fusion of athletic excellence and contemporary design. Whether dominating the game or making a statement off the court, the D.O.N. Issue 4 Basketball Shoes epitomize a perfect harmony between form and performance.

All day Adidas performance

Elevate your on-court performance and style with our comprehensive guide to the best Adidas basketball shoes available in 2024. From innovative technology to sleek designs, our curated selection ensures that you’ll find the perfect pair to match your playing style and individual preferences. Let our guide be your trusted companion, leading you to the must-have Adidas basketball sneakers that seamlessly merge performance and fashion, empowering you to dominate the court with both skill and style.

The post The 7 best Adidas basketball shoes to dominate in 2024 appeared first on ClutchPoints .

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Effect of steplike high-temperature treatment on the composition and structure of the primary carbides in R6M5 high-speed steel ingots

  • Published: 25 May 2011
  • Volume 2011 , pages 29–32, ( 2011 )
  • I. V. Doronin 1 ,
  • Yu. A. Lukina 2 ,
  • I. O. Bannykh 3 &
  • P. L. Alekseev 1  

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The effect of steplike high-temperature treatment (SHTT) on the composition and structure of carbides in the ledeburite eutectic of R6M5 high-speed steel ingots is studied. It is shown that SHTT processes lead to fragmentation and a change in the composition of the primary carbides, which causes their disintegration and a decrease in the carbide size during hot deformation.

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Elektrostal Branch of Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys, ul. Pervomaiskaya, 7, Elektrostal, Moscow oblast’, 144001, Russia

I. V. Doronin & P. L. Alekseev

Elektrostal Heavy Engineering Works, ul. Krasnaya, 19, Elektrostal, Moscow oblast’, 144005, Russia

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Baikov Institute of Metallurgy and Materials Science, Russian Academy of Sciences, Leninskii pr. 49, Moscow, 119991, Russia

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Original Russian Text © I.V. Doronin, Yu.A. Lukina, I.O. Bannykh, P.L. Alekseev, 2011, published in Metally, 2011, No. 1, pp. 35–38.

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Doronin, I.V., Lukina, Y.A., Bannykh, I.O. et al. Effect of steplike high-temperature treatment on the composition and structure of the primary carbides in R6M5 high-speed steel ingots. Russ. Metall. 2011 , 29–32 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1134/S0036029511010071

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Received : 07 April 2010

Published : 25 May 2011

Issue Date : January 2011

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1134/S0036029511010071

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Footwear comfort: a systematic search and narrative synthesis of the literature

Hylton b. menz.

Discipline of Podiatry, School of Allied Health, Human Services and Sport, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria 3086 Australia

Daniel R. Bonanno

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To provide a narrative synthesis of the research literature pertaining to footwear comfort, including definitions, measurement scales, footwear design features, and physiological and psychological factors.

A systematic search was conducted which yielded 101 manuscripts. The most relevant manuscripts were selected based on the predetermined subheadings of the review (definitions, measurement scales, footwear design features, and physiological and psychological factors). A narrative synthesis of the findings of the included studies was undertaken.

The available evidence is highly fragmented and incorporates a wide range of study designs, participants, and assessment approaches, making it challenging to draw strong conclusions or implications for clinical practice. However, it can be broadly concluded that (i) simple visual analog scales may provide a reliable overall assessment of comfort, (ii) well-fitted, lightweight shoes with soft midsoles and curved rocker-soles are generally perceived to be most comfortable, and (iii) the influence of sole flexibility, shoe microclimate and insoles is less clear and likely to be more specific to the population, setting and task being performed.

Footwear comfort is a complex and multifaceted concept that is influenced not only by structural and functional aspects of shoe design, but also task requirements and anatomical and physiological differences between individuals. Further research is required to delineate the contribution of specific shoe features more clearly, and to better understand the interaction between footwear features and individual physiological attributes.

Footwear plays an essential role in protecting the foot from trauma and facilitating efficient and pain-free movement when performing a wide range of routine, occupational, recreational, and sporting activities. The selection of footwear is influenced by economic, cultural and functional factors, with comfort frequently being reported as one of the most important considerations in a range of settings [ 1 – 3 ]. Comfort can be defined as the state of being physically relaxed and free from pain, although the mere absence of pain does not fully constitute the positive state of being comfortable. Rather, comfort is a broader construct which also incorporates the absence of other unpleasant physiological sensations (such as rough textures, extremes in temperature or excessive moisture) and the presence of highly subjective feelings (such as ease, support and contentment) [ 4 , 5 ].

In addition to facilitating a general sense of wellbeing, the use of comfortable footwear is also considered to have a range of practical advantages, as it may facilitate physical activity [ 6 ], enhance sporting performance [ 7 ], and reduce the incidence of injury [ 8 ]. Therefore, identifying the footwear design, physiological and psychological factors which influence comfort could assist in the development and manufacture of improved footwear for a wide range of population groups, and potentially have both individual and societal benefits. Accordingly, the objective of this study was to provide a narrative synthesis of the research literature pertaining to footwear comfort, including definitions, measurement scales, footwear design features, and physiological and psychological factors.

A systematic search was initially conducted in December 2020 and updated in August 2021. The Ovid platform was used to explore MEDLINE (1946 to present), AMED (1985 to present) and Embase (1974 to present) by applying the search string ((footwear or shoe*) and comfort*).mp , limited to human and English language papers. All study designs were considered. Articles addressing comfort of footwear and/or insoles were included, but studies on hosiery, cast walkers or ankle-foot orthoses were excluded. This search was supplemented by a title and abstract search of Footwear Science , as this journal is not indexed in MEDLINE, AMED or Embase. The Ovid search yielded 1131 documents, and after the removal of 328 duplicates, 803 documents were screened by title and abstract. Following title and abstract review there were 120 relevant documents, and after full-text screening 77 documents were included. The Footwear Science search identified 104 documents which was reduced to 24 after full-text review, giving a combined total of 101 documents [ 1 , 3 , 5 , 7 , 9 – 105 ] (see Fig.  1 ). The most relevant manuscripts were selected based on the predetermined subheadings of the review (definitions, measurement scales, footwear design features, and physiological and psychological factors). A narrative synthesis of the findings of these studies was then undertaken.

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is 13047_2021_500_Fig1_HTML.jpg

Flowchart of included papers

Characteristics of included studies

Most studies were laboratory-based, repeated measures designs where comfort was measured under different footwear and/or insole conditions [ 14 , 15 , 18 , 20 – 23 , 25 – 30 , 33 , 35 – 39 , 41 , 43 – 48 , 50 – 55 , 57 , 58 , 60 – 71 , 73 – 79 , 81 – 87 , 89 , 90 , 93 , 97 , 98 , 100 – 105 ], but there were also 13 surveys [ 1 , 3 , 9 – 11 , 16 , 19 , 24 , 40 , 56 , 88 , 92 , 96 ], eight clinical trials [ 12 , 34 , 42 , 49 , 59 , 94 , 95 , 99 ], three qualitative studies [ 13 , 17 , 91 ] and three reviews [ 5 , 7 , 72 ]. Sample size ranged from 5 to 1524, and primarily included healthy young adults [ 10 , 14 , 15 , 17 , 18 , 22 , 28 , 31 , 32 , 35 , 37 , 43 – 46 , 48 , 50 , 53 , 54 , 56 , 58 , 60 , 64 , 67 , 74 – 76 , 78 , 79 , 83 , 88 , 90 , 101 – 104 ], but also children [ 71 , 91 ], older people [ 1 , 52 , 63 , 76 ], participants with medical conditions (such as diabetes [ 16 , 27 , 68 , 105 ], rheumatoid arthritis [ 29 ], patellofemoral pain [ 73 ], plantar fasciitis [ 99 ], hallux valgus [ 93 ] and non-specific musculoskeletal disorders/symptoms [ 25 , 95 ]), specific occupational groups (such as military personnel [ 42 , 69 , 85 , 89 ], factory workers [ 9 , 12 ], school teachers [ 11 ], kitchen staff [ 13 ], hospital staff [ 13 ], coal miners [ 40 , 41 ] and police officers [ 94 ]) and sportspeople (such as runners [ 26 , 30 , 36 , 39 , 47 , 49 , 65 , 66 , 70 , 77 , 82 , 84 , 86 , 98 ], basketball players [ 61 , 62 , 92 , 100 ], soccer players [ 38 , 87 , 97 ], cyclists [ 20 , 21 ], aerobic dancers [ 34 ], skiers [ 51 ], rugby players [ 59 ], people attending gymnasiums [ 3 ], badminton players [ 55 ] and tennis players [ 96 ]).

Definitions of comfort

No studies provided a specific definition of comfort, although four studies were designed to explore how comfort is conceptualised. Alcantara et al. [ 10 ] developed a list of 74 adjectives related to footwear design and manufacture and asked 67 people to evaluate 36 shoes using these adjectives on a 5-point scale. Principal components analysis demonstrated that perception of casual footwear could be described on the basis of 20 independent concepts, two of which pertained to comfort. The first was characterised as ‘pure comfort’ and included the positive adjectives good fitting, soft, comfortable, flexible, light, relaxing, smooth, and the negative adjectives rough, hard, strong, heavy, rigid, and robust. The second was characterised as ‘thermal comfort’ and included the positive adjectives fresh, light, breathable, and the negative adjectives hot, heavy, and safe. Similar findings were reported in a qualitative study of footwear comfort perceptions of standing workers by Anderson et al. [ 13 ], who found that positive adjectives used were cushioning, arch support/contour, breathability/ventilation and negative adjectives used were hardness, heaviness and heat. A study of younger women’s perceptions of dress shoes identified ten criteria which differentiated between comfortable and uncomfortable shoes, the strongest being absence of pain, feeling, sound, and texture [ 17 ]. Finally, in a qualitative study of children, the adjectives soft and padding were most frequently used to describe comfortable shoes, while hard, tight, loose and heavy were used to describe uncomfortable shoes [ 91 ].

Comfort measurement scales

A wide range of measurement tools have been used to quantify comfort, including simple dichotomous responses [ 11 , 12 , 29 , 94 ], ranking footwear conditions in order of preference [ 14 , 31 – 33 , 36 , 47 , 48 , 52 , 60 , 63 – 65 , 76 , 77 , 79 , 81 ], 4-point [ 42 , 80 ], 5-point [ 37 , 40 , 45 , 58 , 70 , 76 , 97 ], 6-point [ 59 ], 7-point [ 47 , 64 , 79 , 87 ], 9-point [ 57 ] and 12-point [ 41 ] Likert scales, 10-point numerical rating scales [ 43 , 78 ], and 100 mm [ 15 , 16 , 18 – 21 , 27 , 28 , 30 , 35 , 39 , 48 , 49 , 53 , 56 , 63 – 65 , 67 , 68 , 71 , 73 , 74 , 77 , 79 , 82 , 85 , 89 , 90 , 93 , 99 , 104 , 105 ], 150 mm [ 22 , 25 , 26 , 36 , 46 , 50 , 55 , 61 , 62 , 66 , 69 , 75 , 83 , 84 , 98 , 100 ] and 170 mm [ 44 ] visual analog scales. The anchor statements indicating the lowest possible comfort score included ‘not comfortable at all’ [ 19 – 22 , 25 , 26 , 30 , 39 , 49 , 50 , 53 , 55 , 56 , 61 – 65 , 73 , 79 , 82 – 85 , 89 , 93 ], ‘very uncomfortable’ [ 27 , 28 , 40 , 41 , 45 , 46 , 58 , 68 , 74 , 78 , 79 , 98 ], ‘least comfortable’ [ 44 , 76 , 80 , 90 ], ‘extremely uncomfortable’ [ 48 , 59 , 89 ], ‘not comfortable’ [ 71 , 75 ], ‘not at all comfortable’ [ 15 , 18 ], ‘not acceptable’ [ 37 , 70 ], ‘totally disagree’ [ 10 ], ‘least comfortable imaginable’ [ 35 ], ‘not satisfactory’ [ 42 ], ‘very bad comfort’ [ 43 ], ‘very, very low’ [ 47 ], ‘minimum comfort’ [ 69 ], ‘maximal pain/discomfort’ [ 99 ], ‘not very comfortable’ [ 100 ], ‘completely uncomfortable’ [ 104 ], ‘extremely bad’ [ 57 ] and ‘unbearable discomfort’ [ 87 ]. The anchor statements indicating the highest possible comfort score included ‘most comfortable imaginable’ [ 19 – 22 , 25 , 26 , 30 , 35 , 39 , 46 , 50 , 53 , 56 , 61 , 63 , 65 , 73 , 79 , 82 – 84 ], ‘very comfortable’ [ 18 , 27 , 28 , 40 , 41 , 49 , 58 , 68 , 71 , 74 , 75 , 78 , 79 , 98 , 100 ], ‘most comfortable’ [ 44 , 55 , 62 , 76 , 80 , 85 , 90 ], ‘extremely comfortable’ [ 48 , 59 , 87 ], ‘just right’ [ 37 , 70 ], ‘totally agree’ [ 10 ], ‘very much’ [ 15 ], ‘excellent’ [ 42 ], ‘very good comfort’ [ 43 ], ‘not at all uncomfortable’ [ 45 ], ‘very, very high’ [ 47 ], ‘maximum comfort’ [ 69 ], ‘maximal comfortable’ [ 64 ], ‘no pain/discomfort’ [ 99 ], ‘completely comfortable’ [ 104 ], ‘most conceivable comfort’ [ 93 ] and ‘extremely good’ [ 57 ]. Most studies documented an overall comfort score for the whole foot/shoe, while others reported separate comfort scores for specific regions of the foot/shoe [ 19 , 21 , 22 , 36 , 57 , 59 , 64 , 66 , 71 , 73 , 75 , 83 , 87 , 104 ]. The vast majority of tools considered comfort to be a unidimensional construct, although some incorporated additional perceptual components including in-shoe ‘climate’ [ 55 ], thermal comfort [ 51 , 67 , 103 ], dampness [ 67 ] and air permeability [ 67 ].

Seven studies specifically addressed the psychometric properties of comfort scales. Mündermann et al. [ 83 ] assessed the reliability of 150 mm visual analog scales documenting comfort pertaining to forefoot cushioning, heel cushioning, arch height, heel cup fit, shoe heel width, shoe forefoot width, and shoe length in runners wearing standardised running footwear with four inserts of differing hardness. Overall, intra-test repeatability was high (intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC] 0.80 and improved with four to six repeated sessions, although it was noted that some participants reported highly variable comfort ratings. A subsequent study by these authors demonstrated consistency of scores using this scale with repeated sessions over 3 weeks [ 84 ], and Lam et al. [ 62 ] confirmed the reliability of the same 150 mm visual analog scale in basketball players (ICCs from 0.61 to 0.80). Mills et al. [ 79 ] compared the reliability of documenting comfort (overall, cushioning of the forefoot, arch and heel, and support of the arch and heel) in participants wearing their usual footwear and four different inserts using 100 mm visual analog scales, 7-point Likert scales and ranking, and found that ranking was the most reliable measure, followed by the visual analog scales and Likert scales. Similarly, Lindorfer et al. [ 64 ] assessed 30 runners over six repeated sessions, and found that ranking provided the highest reliability (Pearson’s r  = 0.07), followed by a 100 mm visual analog scale ( r  = 0.67) and 7-point Likert scale ( r  = 0.63). More recently, Bishop et al. [ 19 ] reported a detailed psychometric evaluation of a new running shoe comfort assessment tool incorporating four components measured with a 100 mm visual analog scale (heel cushioning, forefoot cushioning, shoe stability, forefoot flexibility and an overall comfort score). Reliability of the overall score was excellent (ICC 0.88) and good for each of the component scores (ICC > 0.70).

In contrast to these positive findings, Hoerzer et al. [ 50 ] examined intra-rater reliability of 150 mm visual analog scales and dichotomous (yes/no) ratings of insole comfort, and found that less than a third of participants provided reliable scores across the two sessions. These findings suggest that psychological factors, such as mood, may influence the perception of comfort and that documenting a mean score across multiple sessions may be necessary to obtain acceptable reliability. Furthermore, a recent systematic review of comfort scales by Matthias et al. [ 72 ] demonstrated that few studies explicitly evaluated validity, and many exhibited methodological bias, such as lack of participant and assessor blinding.

Footwear design features associated with comfort

Three studies explored the effect of footwear fit on comfort. Miller et al. [ 78 ] evaluated associations between foot anthropometric measurements and comfort while wearing three different running shoes, and found that a range of measurements (particularly related to shoe fit in the forefoot and toes) influenced comfort perceptions. However, these associations varied across the three styles, suggesting that fit may differentially influence comfort depending on other characteristics of the shoe. In the second study, Branthwaite et al. [ 22 ] assessed the effect of toe-box constriction on comfort by comparing three toe-box shapes in ballet pumps (round, square and pointed). Although there was no difference in comfort scores, none of the shoes were considered to be comfortable. Most recently, Matthias et al. [ 71 ] assessed comfort ratings of children aged 8 to 12 years while wearing school shoes that were appropriately fitted for size, one size too large, and one size too small. The fitted shoes were rated as the most comfortable overall, while the smaller size was rated as too tight in the heel and toe regions.

Midsole cushioning

Eight studies evaluated perceived comfort while wearing footwear that varied according to midsole cushioning, including running shoes [ 39 , 60 , 78 , 90 , 98 ], basketball shoes [ 61 ], casual shoes [ 63 ] and military boots [ 85 ]. All but one study [ 63 ] reported that participants found the footwear with softer midsole materials to be more comfortable, although Sterzing et al. [ 95 ] also demonstrated that the use of harder materials under the forefoot did not negatively affect comfort provided that the material under the rearfoot was soft. However, documentation of midsole cushioning across these studies was inconsistent, with some studies using no objective measures [ 60 , 61 , 78 ] and others reporting either density (which ranged from 0.15 to 0.24 g/cm 3 ) [ 39 , 90 ] or hardness (which ranged from Shore A 25 to 66) [ 63 , 85 , 90 ]. Furthermore, only three of these studies [ 61 , 63 , 98 ] specifically manipulated midsole cushioning while controlling for other shoe characteristics, making it difficult to attribute differences in comfort to cushioning alone.

Heel elevation

Nine studies examined the effects of heel elevation on comfort perception while wearing high-heels [ 28 , 53 , 54 , 56 , 101 ], casual shoes [ 75 , 76 ] and running shoes [ 23 , 82 ]. In the two running shoe studies, heel elevations (i.e., heel-toe drop) ranged from 0 to 15 mm, but no differences in comfort were found during treadmill walking [ 23 ] or running [ 82 ]. In contrast, significant reductions in comfort were consistently reported in each of the studies examining high-heels [ 28 , 53 , 54 , 56 ] and casual shoes [ 75 , 76 ] when heel height was increased by between 45 and 76 mm. However, comfort perception was higher in participants who were habituated to wearing high heels [ 28 ], and three studies reported that the discomfort associated with heel elevation could be partly ameliorated by the use of heel cups [ 56 ] and arch supports [ 53 , 54 , 56 ]. An interaction between heel height and the sagittal plane angle of the heel seat (‘wedge angle’) was also reported by Witana et al. [ 101 ], who found that comfort while wearing high heels could be optimised by selecting the most appropriate wedge angle for a corresponding heel height.

Five studies evaluated the influence of shoe weight on perceived comfort in military boots [ 85 , 89 ], safety footwear [ 18 ], running shoes [ 60 ] and basketball shoes [ 62 ]. However, only three studies provided objective measurements of shoe weight (ranging from 335 to 800 g) [ 62 , 85 , 89 ] and none controlled for other shoe characteristics. Nevertheless, all reported that the lightest shoe was perceived to be the most comfortable. In addition to the absolute weight of the shoe, the distribution of mass may also be important. Chiu et al. [ 33 ] added weights to different locations of casual canvas shoes while keeping the total weight constant, and found that most participants preferred rear-weighted shoes and perceived them to be lighter than when the weights were added distally.

Sole flexibility/bending stiffness

Four studies examined the effect of sole flexibility on comfort: two in running shoes [ 37 , 78 ], one in coal mining boots [ 41 ], and one in people with diabetes [ 105 ]. In running, comfort related to sole flexibility may depend on running speed. Miller et al. [ 78 ] compared comfort while standing, walking and running in participants wearing three different commercially-available running shoes, and found that although comfort ratings differed according to the activity, the most comfortable shoe on average was the most flexible. However, Day et al. [ 37 ] tested participants in shoes with and without carbon fibre plates and found that participants preferred the standard shoe when running at 14 km/h, but the stiffer shoe at 17 km/h. The coal mining boot study assessed comfort when coal miners wore two standard boots (one with a stiff shaft and one with a flexible shaft), and each boot was then modified to create a more flexible sole by cutting slits across the sole at the level of the metatarsophalangeal joints. Although most participants preferred the boot with a flexible shaft combined with a stiff (unmodified) sole, there was large variability in the comfort scores and no significant effect among the different boot types [ 41 ]. Finally, Zwaferink et al. [ 105 ] found that adding a 3 mm carbon-fibre stiffening insert to extra-depth shoes in people at risk of foot ulceration resulted in lower plantar pressures, but had no detrimental effect on comfort.

Midsole geometry

Seven studies evaluated the influence of various aspects of midsole geometry on comfort, including offloading/rocker-sole footwear (in healthy individuals [ 43 , 66 ], older people [ 52 ], people with diabetes [ 27 , 68 ] and people with rheumatoid arthritis [ 29 ]), and the application of lateral wedges to footwear for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis [ 44 ]. In the offloading footwear studies, rocker-sole shoes were perceived to be more comfortable than standard footwear [ 29 ] or forefoot offloading shoes (i.e., shoes with no ground contact at the forefoot designed to avoid toe-off) [ 27 , 43 ], and rigid rocker-sole shoes more comfortable than semirigid rocker-sole shoes [ 68 ]. However, no substantial differences in comfort were found across three different heel curvature designs (short-parallel, long-parallel and oblique) in running shoes [ 66 ], adding foam to the plantar midfoot region of the outersole [ 52 ], or following the addition of a small (2 degree) lateral heel wedge designed to alter knee joint moments when walking [ 44 ].

Outsole geometry

Three studies evaluated the effect of outsole geometry on comfort [ 38 , 59 , 87 ]. In soccer boots, de Clerq et al. [ 38 ] assessed the effect of various stud configurations on comfort when performing cutting manoeuvres, and found that the sole design with the least number of studs was the most comfortable. Kryger et al. [ 87 ] compared two soccer boot designs that varied according to stud shape, upper material and boot mass, and found that the most comfortable boot generated lower pressures under the first and fifth metatarsal heads. Similarly, in rugby, Kinchington et al. found that hybrid turf shoes were more comfortable than studded boots [ 59 ].

Two studies evaluated the effect of lacing on comfort. Dobson et al. [ 40 ] reported lace-up boots to be more comfortable than slip-on boots in coal miners, while Hagen et al. [ 58 ] compared different styles of lacing in seven-eyelet running shoes, and found that comfort varied according to the number of eyelets laced and how tightly the laces were tied. The most comfortable technique involved the use of three eyelets laced while keeping the upper two eyelets unlaced, although this was perceived to be less stable and was associated with higher pronation velocity while running compared to tightly lacing all eyelets.

Upper material

Four studies demonstrated that shoes with more compliant upper materials may be preferable. Jordan et al. [ 58 ] compared three styles of casual footwear and found that shoes generating lower pressures on the dorsum of the foot were perceived as more comfortable, while Melvin et al. [ 75 ] found that shoes constructed from soft suede were more comfortable than shoes constructed from a stiffer leather upper. In soccer boots, Sterzing et al. [ 97 ] found that despite two models having identical stud configurations, the model with the softer heel counter was perceived to be more comfortable. Finally, Saeedi et al. [ 93 ] evaluated people with hallux valgus wearing their own shoes, shoes with a round toe-box and shoes with a stretchable fabric upper, and found that the shoes with the stretchable upper generated lower toe pressures and were perceived to be the most comfortable.

Shoe microclimate

Four studies evaluated the influence of shoe microclimate (i.e., temperature, moisture and ventilation characteristics) on comfort, generally in the context of footwear worn in cold environments (such as trekking boots [ 15 ], safety boots [ 45 ] and ski boots [ 51 ]), but also in sandals used in combination with footwarmers indoors [ 103 ]. The findings of these studies were inconsistent, in that higher temperatures were found to be associated with improved comfort perceptions in ski boots [ 51 ], when adding insulation and toecaps to safety boots [ 45 ] and in indoor sandals [ 103 ], but lower temperatures were found to be more comfortable in trekking boots [ 15 ]. Likely explanations for this inconsistency are the range of ambient temperatures each study was performed in (which varied from − 6.8 to 23.3 °C) and different methods for measuring in-shoe temperature. The role of moisture and ventilation has been less studied and is inherently difficult to delineate from temperature effects. However, the study of trekking boots by Arezes et al. [ 15 ] found moisture retention to be of secondary importance to temperature in determining comfort levels.

Twenty-six studies have been conducted to assess the effects of insoles on footwear comfort. However, it is difficult to draw clear conclusions from the available literature due to the variation in populations studied and wide range of insole designs used. Broadly, the evidence suggests that the addition of insoles improves footwear comfort in casual footwear [ 95 ], factory footwear [ 12 ], running shoes [ 25 , 26 , 49 , 84 ], high heels [ 53 , 54 ] and police boots [ 94 ]. However, no significant improvements in comfort have been reported when adding flat cushioning insoles to walking shoes [ 74 ] or running shoes [ 86 ], or contoured insoles to cycling shoes [ 20 ]. Furthermore, the effect of insoles on footwear comfort is influenced by the fit of the shoe, as it has been observed that insoles may decrease comfort if they make the shoe too tight [ 34 ].

Studies comparing different insole designs have generally found that softer, more flexible insoles are perceived as more comfortable (in casual footwear [ 99 ], running shoes [ 31 , 67 , 80 ] and military footwear [ 42 , 69 ]). However, comfort perceptions related to insole hardness may vary according to an individual’s occupation, as Anderson et al. [ 14 ] have reported that people standing for long periods at work prefer soft materials under the heel and forefoot but firmer materials under the arch. The influence of insole shape is uncertain, with studies reporting flat insoles to be more comfortable than contoured [ 48 ], contoured more comfortable than flat [ 69 , 100 ], or no difference between the two [ 73 ]. Furthermore, the effect of insole customisation is unclear. Fully customised orthoses have been reported to be more comfortable than semi-customised insoles in runners [ 36 ], while reductions in comfort have been observed with the addition of anterior wedges when performing a load lifting task [ 46 ] and lateral forefoot posting when cycling [ 21 ].

One study assessed the effect of repeated wear on comfort while wearing badminton shoes [ 55 ]. Badminton players performed direction change manoeuvres while wearing new shoes and then the same shoes after 96 h of wear (6, 2-h training sessions per week for 8 weeks). The worn shoes were perceived to be significantly less comfortable in relation to in-shoe climate, medio-lateral stability, and overall fit, although performance in direction change manoeuvres was not adversely affected.

Physiological and psychological factors associated with comfort

Two studies assessed sex differences in comfort perception in running shoes, with inconsistent findings [ 57 , 60 ]. Kong et al. [ 60 ] instructed healthy men and women to walk and run in three types of footwear (cushioning, lightweight and stability) and asked them to select the model that they found most comfortable. No differences were noted between walking and running, but women were four times more likely to select the lightweight shoe compared to men, which the authors attributed to women weighing less and therefore preferring a shoe with less metabolic energy cost. In contrast, Isherwood et al. [ 57 ] analysed running biomechanics in men and women wearing the same running shoe model, and despite noting several sex-related differences in kinematics and kinetics, found no difference in perception of cushioning, stability, or overall comfort.

Foot-related factors

Four studies have evaluated associations between foot characteristics and comfort, specifically addressing foot alignment [ 14 , 78 , 104 ] and tactile sensitivity [ 81 ]. In relation to arch height, Zifchock et al. [ 104 ] compared comfort ratings while wearing custom and semi-custom orthoses, and found that participants with high arches reported greater arch and heel comfort in the semi-custom device which provided less rearfoot control when walking, while Anderson et al. [ 14 ] assessed perceptions of nine different insoles which varied according to the hardness of the heel, midfoot and forefoot in participants working in occupations that require prolonged standing, and found that those with lower arched feet preferred insoles with harder material in the midfoot. Miller et al. [ 78 ] compared comfort perceptions when walking and running in three shoes that varied in relation to stiffness, cushioning and shape, and found that heel eversion angle was negatively associated with comfort in the stiffer, harder soled shoe. Finally, Mills et al. [ 81 ] compared minimalist and cushioned shoes during running and found that individuals who ranked the cushioned shoe as most comfortable demonstrated higher sensitivity to mechanical pain at their heel and midfoot.

Perceptual factors

Three studies explored the effects of perceptual factors on footwear comfort. Chamb et al. [ 30 ] evaluated running biomechanics on a treadmill under two footwear conditions (shoe A and B). Identical running shoes were used in both conditions, but shoe B was described to be the “latest model designed to maximize comfort” and more expensive than shoe A. Although no differences in running biomechanics were evident, runners rated shoe B as significantly more comfortable than shoe A, demonstrating that comfort ratings can be biased by marketing and perceived quality related to cost. However, runners’ perceptions of comfort do not appear to be strongly associated with actual cost of shoes. Clinghan et al. [ 35 ] measured plantar pressures, comfort scores and perceived cost of shoes at three price ranges, but found no significant associations, suggesting that comfort is highly subjective and based on individual preferences. Finally, in basketball players, Wang et al. [ 100 ] evaluated comfort perceptions when performing drop landings while wearing insoles that differed according to colour and contour, and found that red insoles were perceived to be more comfortable than white insoles with the same contour.

The objective of this study was to provide a summary and critique of the research literature pertaining to footwear comfort. Overall, the available evidence is highly fragmented and incorporates a wide range of study designs, participants, and assessment approaches, making it challenging to draw strong conclusions or implications for clinical practice. It is evident that footwear comfort is a complex and multifaceted concept, that perceptions of comfort are highly subjective, and that comfort is influenced not only by structural and functional aspects of shoe design, but also anatomical and physiological differences between individuals and the unique requirements of the occupational or sporting activity being performed. Nevertheless, there is sufficient uniformity in key findings to provide some broad recommendations as to how comfort should be assessed and what constitutes a comfortable shoe. A summary of the key factors influencing comfort are shown in Fig.  2 .

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Summary of factors associated with footwear comfort

Somewhat surprisingly, no studies specifically defined comfort, and a wide range of assessment scales were used. The anchor statements were also highly variable and conceptually inconsistent. For example, some scales considered the absence of comfort as the worst state (with ‘not comfortable’ as the anchor statement), whereas other scales were bidirectional and used anchors such as ‘extremely uncomfortable’ for the lowest possible scores. From a psychometric perspective, it is unlikely that ‘not comfortable’ and ‘extremely uncomfortable’ represent the same construct, so making comparisons between studies using different scales is problematic. Nevertheless, the most widely used overall comfort tools (100 mm or 150 mm visual analog scales) demonstrated moderate to high reliability and could therefore be recommended for future use. However, as suggested by Matthias et al. [ 72 ], it would be advisable to evaluate reliability within each individual study’s sample population, and to conceal the external appearance of the shoe to avoid bias introduced by participant’s perceptions of footwear aesthetics.

Despite the wide range of occupational and sporting groups evaluated in these studies and their different footwear requirements, it would appear that there are some generic design principles that constitute a comfortable shoe. First, a comfortable shoe is one that fits the foot appropriately, although it needs to be recognised that some very specific situations may require excessively tight shoes (e.g., ballet [ 106 ] and rock-climbing [ 107 ]). Second, softer and more compliant materials are generally regarded as being more comfortable than harder materials in the upper, midsole and insole. Third, with the exception of individuals who have become habituated to high heels over long periods of use [ 28 ], lower heel elevation is generally associated with greater perceived comfort. Fourth, the available evidence suggests that lightweight shoes are generally preferred over heavier shoes. Finally, curved rocker-soles appear to be beneficial for comfort compared to flat soles in a range of population groups.

Less consistency was observed for sole flexibility, in-shoe temperature and insoles. The most likely explanation for this is that the effects of these features on comfort are more specific to the population, setting and task. For example, while runners generally prefer a flexible sole, coal miners prefer a more rigid sole, presumably as this facilitates more comfortable ambulation on uneven or unstable terrain. Similarly, while relatively lower in-shoe temperatures are generally perceived as more comfortable under routine climatic conditions (generally temperatures of 5 to 25 °C) [ 5 ], higher in-shoe temperatures are preferred in the context of lower ambient temperatures, such as when wearing trekking or ski boots. Finally, although the evidence broadly indicates that the addition of soft insoles to shoes generally improves comfort, the wide array of insole designs (materials, contour, posting and wedging) makes it difficult to reach definitive conclusions.

Few studies examined how comfort ratings are influenced by the interaction between footwear and individual characteristics of the wearer. Given that comfort is a complex neurophysiological and psychological construct, it is likely that variability in an individual’s body mass, skeletal alignment, joint range of motion, gait pattern, tactile sensitivity, pain perceptions and aesthetic preferences will influence whether they perceive a particular shoe to be comfortable. While the available evidence suggests that foot structure, function and pain sensitivity may influence insole contour and sole hardness preferences, further research is required to optimise the identification of footwear features that are most suitable for an individual’s anatomical and physiological characteristics.

It is worth noting that while comfort is one of the key considerations when selecting footwear, other factors, such as performance and injury risk, also need to be considered and that these requirements are not necessarily compatible. For example, in running shoes, leaving the top two eyelets unlaced is perceived as the most comfortable but also least stable lacing technique, and results in higher pronation velocity which may increase the risk of injury [ 58 ]. Similarly, while older people may find shoes with softer midsole materials to be more comfortable, there is evidence that excessively soft midsoles may be detrimental to balance and therefore increase the risk of falls [ 108 ]. Clearly, comfort is not the only requirement of footwear, and in some circumstances, comfort may need to be compromised to ensure other needs are met. This is particularly true for some types of occupational footwear, where important safety features (such as steel toe caps, rigid upper materials, and non-slip soles) may be detrimental to comfort but are essential for the prevention of workplace injury.

The findings of this review need to be interpreted in the context of several key limitations in the available literature. Firstly, a wide range of comfort measurement tools were used, so comparisons between studies is inherently problematic. Secondly, few studies specifically manipulated individual footwear design features while controlling for other characteristics, making it difficult to attribute differences in comfort to each individual feature. Finally, although we were able to draw some general conclusions regarding factors that influence comfort, it is likely that these factors influence comfort in different ways depending on the specific requirements of the setting and the activity being performed.

In summary, this paper has provided an overview of how footwear comfort is conceptualised and evaluated and has examined the footwear design features and individual characteristics that influence the perception of footwear comfort. Although the literature is fragmented and often inconsistent, it can be concluded that (i) simple visual analog scales may provide a reliable (albeit unidimensional) assessment of comfort, (ii) well-fitted, lightweight shoes with soft midsoles and curved rocker-soles are generally perceived to be most comfortable, and (iii) the influence of sole flexibility, in-shoe temperature and insoles is less clear and likely to be more specific to the population, setting and task. Suggested improvements and directions for future research include (i) specifically manipulating individual design features while controlling for other shoe characteristics, (ii) exploring the influence of shoe microclimate in greater detail, and (iii) examining the interaction between footwear features and individual physiological attributes.

Acknowledgements

HBM is currently a National Health and Medical Research Council Senior Research Fellow (ID: 1135995). DRB is Associate Editor of Journal of Foot and Ankle Research. It is journal policy to remove editors from the peer review processes for papers they have co-authored.

Authors’ contributions

HBM conceptualised the review, conducted the literature search and drafted the initial manuscript. Both HBM and DRB contributed to interpretation of study findings, critically drafted the manuscript, and approved the final manuscript for publication.

Availability of data and materials

Declarations.

None to declare.

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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    December 2020 Authors: Yahya Gökhan Yalçın Selcuk University Soner Demirel Discover the world's research 2.3+ billion citations No full-text available References (16) The Effect of Basketball...

  13. Sneakers as a Science: Engineering Fashion for Comfort, Support, and

    Biomechanics experts at the Nike Sports Research Lab have testers to try their products for a better understanding of what sort of sneakers athletes need to prevent injuries and enhance their performance [3]. ... Such custom tailoring occurs in many sports, including tennis, track soccer, and basketball. In basketball especially, a shoe's ...

  14. Recommending Basketball Shoes: Educating Athletes On Keys To

    Reviewing pertinent aspects of choosing an appropriate basketball shoe for athletes of varying ages and play levels, this author discusses key shoe features, playing surfaces and injury ramifications. ... There has been a fair amount of research on basketball shoes in labs and during games with some conflicting information as to whether a shoe ...

  15. Effects of Basketball Shoe Midsole Hardness on Lower Extremity ...

    This study investigated how midsole hardness of basketball footwear affects lower extremity biomechanics and impacts perception in drop vertical jumps. Eighteen male basketball players performed drop vertical jumps from three heights (31 cm, 46 cm, 61 cm) in basketball shoes of different midsole hardness (50, 60 Asker C). Biomechanical variables of the lower extremity and subjective perception ...

  16. The 33 Best Basketball Shoes in January 2024

    Overview of the 33 best basketball shoes currently on the market: 1. Nike KD 15. 9.0 rating based on 9 expert reviews. The Nike KD 15 is a shoe that has something for every type of player. Best for players looking for a shoe that covers all the bases. 2.

  17. Do running speed and shoe cushioning influence impact loading and

    Introduction. Basketball is a popular sport with more than 450 million participants worldwide (International Basketball Federation, 2016), making it an important sport for injury prevention research in order to improve healthy living.Apart from jumping, cutting, and turning, running in a straight line is an indispensable and essential task during basketball games.

  18. The Top 23 New Basketball Shoes of 2023

    Ranking the top 23 basketball shoes that were launched in 2023. Adidas, New Balance, Nike, PUMA, Skechers, and Under Armour had some of the best basketball shoes released in 2023.

  19. Beyond Boundaries: Basketball Shoes Market Trends and Forecast

    Our research on the global Basketball Shoes Market offers thorough insights into the competitive environment, major market drivers, and current industry trends. Our research report includes...

  20. Basketball Shoes. Nike.com

    Shoes by Size Big Kids (1Y - 7Y) Little Kids (8C - 3Y) Baby & Toddler (1C - 10C) All Shoes Lifestyle Jordan Air Max Air Force 1 Dunks & Blazers Basketball Running Sandals & Slides Shoes $70 & Under

  21. The 7 best Adidas basketball shoes to dominate in 2024

    The 7 best Adidas basketball shoes to dominate in 2024. Story by Jeff Turbett • 5d. Products mentioned in this article. Adidas Adizero Select Shoes Off White M 6 / W 7 Unisex. Adidas Trae Young ...

  22. Effect of steplike high-temperature treatment on the composition and

    The effect of steplike high-temperature treatment (SHTT) on the composition and structure of carbides in the ledeburite eutectic of R6M5 high-speed steel ingots is studied. It is shown that SHTT processes lead to fragmentation and a change in the composition of the primary carbides, which causes their disintegration and a decrease in the carbide size during hot deformation.

  23. An Open Comparative Study of the Effectiveness and Incomparable Study

    Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contacts provided below. For general information, Learn About Clinical Studies.

  24. Vladimir Vladimirovich Rozhdestvenskiy

    580a61fbd88f7e83c8d134c54ed13f4._swm_vXXpjIc9WQNNcGYzkGmEQ6Hh32t-e6kRKMamDE.mYtJp6HmyR9wnztfcJKhgnXTVWjSzgrozN7Ucc9wy33MlkKQpI_le2WwFw Advanced search

  25. Vladimir Borisovich Akhmadyshev

    710c61310f0d3dac2eb05d275f47414.vl03RGm1jtRIMU7qLwh-f1MvO4ZEB9kDjdDb996a6ic.0ypHdQv6x5V8aSq8Q3EdTBcYTLcqbLJFwqmUqOjFm2bJbAUeGOzU4CVBeg Advanced search

  26. Footwear comfort: a systematic search and narrative synthesis of the

    Associated Data Data Availability Statement Go to: Abstract Objective To provide a narrative synthesis of the research literature pertaining to footwear comfort, including definitions, measurement scales, footwear design features, and physiological and psychological factors. Methods A systematic search was conducted which yielded 101 manuscripts.