Just like the tires on your car, your athletic shoes should also be changed after they’ve accummulated a certain “mileage.”
How long your athletic shoes will last depends on several factors, including how often you wear them, where you run or walk, how your foot functions, and your workout conditions and mileage. Contrary to popular opinion, however, you cannot always tell whether a shoe is worn out by visual inspection. With the technologies available today, the outer sole can hold up and not show deterioration even after the shock absorption and stability capacities of the shoe are gone.
Wearing old athletic shoes, specifically for running, or wearing the wrong type of shoes for your foot or for a specific sport can lead to injuries. For example, running in a shoe that no longer provides traction, support, and cushioning can lead to a number of musculoskeletal complaints, among them heel pain, shin splints, and stress fractures. A basic rule of thumb for runners is to replace shoes every 300-500 miles. Other factors to consider are:
- Type of shoe/type of foot: Ask your podiatrist about specific shoes that are best for your foot type. Some shoes are designed to accommodate pronation or supination, and your doctor can give you good reasons to choose one brand over another.
- Environment: A humid climate can contribute to a shoe’s rapid breakdown because running in a wet shoe will overstretch the upper part of the shoe while over-compressing the lower part.
- Body type: Your body weight is a big factor in determining which shoe is best for you. In general, the more you weigh, the more cushioning your feet will need to withstand the impact.
- Usage: The amount you wear your shoe and how many miles you log can also affect the life of your shoe. Runners and walkers can easily track their mileage. Shoes used outside will break down more rapidly than those in the gym.
About half-way through the life of your shoes, buy a second pair to rotate in during workouts. Having a newer pair as a point of reference will also help you identify the feel of shoes that have run their course. Your feet can last a lifetime, but your shoes are not designed to do the same. Replace worn athletic shoes as often as needed and