Shoe Comfort

Hidden Factors Causing Shoe Cushion To Miss Its Mark

August 30, 2023

Every brand wants to provide their customers with ideal cushioning. But most do not have a system that allows them to confidently assess their underfoot cushion. However, few have an approach that shows them the cushioning that their customers want. Let’s review the common mistakes and best approaches to making better cushioning in shoes.

Not Every Shoe Should Cushion Like A Running Shoe

The most common mistake we see from footwear brands is chasing the soft cushioning and high energy return that is popular in running shoes. The cushioning needs to match the needs of the wearer.

Running shoes are designed to be worn for a few hours of activity at a time. This won’t match the needs of a worker on their feet for a 12-hour shift. Basketball players and skateboarders want to feel the court/board, so firmer material with high energy return is preferred. Tuning your cushioning to the needs of your customer is a fast and easy way to improve comfort.

 Size Matters

 Adding 5mm of foam does not always result in more cushioning. This is a common mistake brands make when trying to improve their cushioning.

 To understand how thickness changes cushioning, brands must test foam plaques of varying thickness. It is also valuable to test a few different formulations of foam. Variations in hardness, specific gravity, or chemical structure of foam will provide a road map on what is the best foam for your new shoe.

This graph shows that 20mm has much softer cushioning than 10mm (lower Force). However, 20mm and 25mm have very similar cushioning performance.

Planning leads to Victory

A plan to assess new foam materials is the easiest way to exceed your customer’s cushioning expectations. The most effective strategy is to start with machine testing on multiple foam options (1-2 days). Then make samples with 2-3 of the best performing shoes and have them Comfort tested at Heeluxe (2 weeks). This confirms that the cushioning matches the needs of your customers AND that they feel the difference.  

How Heeluxe helps your brand with this

Selecting a cushioning material that is best for your customers is easy with the right partner. Heeluxe has the tools you need to test your materials, compare them to industry leaders, and develop them into a successful shoe. These services are fast and provide excellent return on investment. To begin planning your next cushioning test please contact