What Are Platform Tennis Shoes?

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  • Written By: Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2019
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Platform tennis shoes, also called platform sneakers, are footwear with thick soles that elevate the wearer. Unlike other platform shoes, however, platform tennis shoes provide much more stability and can be used as casual wear. Although some individuals wear these shoes to make a fashion statement, others choose them specifically because of the added height they provide or to provide some relief from medical conditions.

The tops of platform tennis shoes look identical to any other sneaker. The part that makes the shoes distinct is the sole. On a modest version, the sole is only 1 to 1.5 inches (2.54 to 3.81 centimeters) in height. Soles can be up to 5 or 6 inches (12.7 or 15.24 centimeters), however. The higher the sole, the more likely it is that manufacturers will round the front edge of the sole to make it easier to stride and roll the foot naturally during wear of the shoe. Manufacturers usually use rubber for the soles of platform tennis shoes, which differentiates them from the cork, wood, leather or plastic soles found on other platform footwear.


The inner sole of a platform sneaker comes in two varieties. The first variety is flat, although supports may be present at the arch. The second type rises up at the heel, providing additional elevation that is not outwardly visible. Which kind of inner sole a person chooses is a matter of which version is most comfortable, with the latter type being better for individuals with high arches.

From the medical standpoint, in addition to addressing issues such as high arches, platform tennis shoes also can remedy problems such as physical abnormalities that cause one leg to be significantly shorter than the other. Used in this way, the platform sneaker can enable a person to walk without limping, putting the pelvis and spine back into proper alignment and reducing physical stress and pain. This can have a major effect on how a person is able to interact with others, participate in activities and enjoy life.

Platform sneakers were popular in disco circles between 1960 to 1980. Although they fell out of popularity temporarily after this, some entertainers played a major role in revitalizing the platform sneaker fad.

Historically, platform tennis shoes are adaptations of shoes that were worn not only for fashion, but to demonstrate status. In ancient Greece, actors wore platform shoes to seem more authoritative on stage. During the Renaissance, the use of platform shoes separated lower class individuals from upper class nobility, with heights of the shoes peaking in Venice and sometimes necessitating walking sticks or a servant's assistance. Later, platform shoes were popular in Europe because they allowed individuals to rise above the dirt and grime of the streets, but throughout history, platform shoes weren't very comfortable or fun to wear. Eventually, shoemakers created platform sneakers to make platform footwear both casual-funky and pain-free.


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