First Of All Running Shoes Actually Do Break Down
Before we get into how to tell when your running shoes are circling the drain, its important to understand whats actually going on there with their breakdown. Yes, running shoe companies have a vested interest in encouraging you to fork over $100-plus every few months. But the idea that you need to replace your shoes regularly isnt just a marketing ploy, Robert Conenello, D.P.M., a sports podiatrist and founder of Orangetown Podiatry in Orangeburg, New York, tells SELF. Your running sneakers actually do break down over time, starting with the foam that cushions each collision with the ground.
When you run, you take an average of 160 to 200 steps per minute, each of which compresses your shoes in between the ground and the weight of your body, Brian Metzler, a dedicated shoe geek, tester, and the author of Kicksology: The Hype, Science, Culture & Cool of Running Shoes, tells SELF. This causes the midsolethe squishy part in between the shoes bottom and the fabric upperto break down.
Midsoles are made of foams with technical-sounding names like ethylene-vinyl acetate or polyurethane , which trap air in small cells to absorb the shock of each foot strike. Over time, the impact of running causes these cells to warp and flatten, Dr. Conenello says. Even if youre not using your shoes regularly, the foam still loses some of its shape and resiliency, or the ability to bounce back after its compressed.
Major Wear And Tear Signs
- Worn upper: If the sole is fine but the sides have worn through you might need larger shoes, stretch laces or shoes with a reinforced upper
- Fraying inside the heel: this might indicate the wrong size shoe as the friction from your ankle could wear it down while you run. This could be helped by tying shoelaces more securely to prevent your foot from leaving the shoe.
- Midsole feels too soft: if it doesnt spring back and collapses under pressure its time to replace the shoe. You might be able to spot creases, particularly in the impact zones.
- The shoes dont stand straight when on a flat surface
- Heel counter becomes less supportive, even mobile
How Often Should You Replace Your Shoes
Your shoes are arguably the most important part of your running wardrobe, which is why runners spend so much time and money looking for just the right pair. Once you have found the perfect shoe, you should do your best to take care of them so they continue to provide the support you need throughout your training. This includes replacing them when theyre no longer in good condition. But how do you know when its time to replace your shoes, and why is it so important? We spoke with avid runner and podiatric medicine practitionerLaura Desjardins to find out.
Desjardins says on average, you should replace your shoes after about 800 kilometres. That being said, how long your shoes last depends on their structure and durability. Lightweight shoes with soft soles, such as a racing flat, will wear much faster than a sturdier shoe with firmer soles.
Aches and pains may also indicate that its time for a new pair of shoes. This is because the compressed soles are no longer providing the same level of shock absorption, which increases the stress on your muscles, bones and joints while you run.
Why is it so important to replace your shoes?
How can you prolong the life of your shoes?
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Your Shoes Have Lost Their Bounce
With a variety of different styles on the market, shoes these days come with different stack heights, drops, and support styles. Regardless of how plush your pick may be, each sneaker will have a certain feel at first wear. As expected, that feel will shift over time.
“Once you buy that new pair of shoes, you can feel the freshness of the shoes,” says Dircksen. “After a while, you’ll feel that the pop and spring goes away. When the shoe starts to break down, form can get sloppy, which can lead to injury.”
Time to buy new running shoes? Check out these expert-approved pairs:
- Asics GT-200:Asics.com Asics.com $120
- Hoka Clifton 8: HokaOneOne.com HokaOneOne.com $130
- Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 2:Nike.com Nike.com $160
What Are The Best Running Shoes
Above: Asics sneakers are very popular among runners.
The best type of running shoe is the one that is perfect for the type of running you plan on doing. Think of the soles of your shoes as being similar to the treads on the tires of your car – racing slicks have to be replaced more often than all terrain tires. It is the same thing with shoes – racing flats and minimalist shoes are generally less durable due to having less material underfoot and will have to be replaced more often than other styles of running shoes.
Road Running Shoes
Road running shoes are the perfect choice to use on smoother surfaces such as treadmills, the local high school track or when jogging on flatter sidewalks and roads. These type of shoes are typically lightweight and provide a moderate amount of cushioning. You can find road running shoes that are more neutral, more flexible, or ones with motion control and stability features.
Trail Running Shoes
Trail running shoes are the beefier, usually less flexible cousin of road running shoes and are perfect for off-road running on uneven surfaces. They have lugged outsoles for better grip on a variety of surfaces including gravel, sand and mud and often include water proof or water resistant features. Certain models of trail running shoes come with a midsole shock plate to protect your feet from rocks and other sharp objects.
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The Miles Have Stacked Up
Distance covered is a particular metric of importance here.
The more miles you put underfoot, the sooner youll need new running shoes. Recommendations vary on the exact distance at which you should buy a replacement pair though.
However, somewhere between 300 and 500 miles is a good place to start.
Think about when you purchased your shoes and how much ground you cover in a typical week. Use those metrics to work out how many miles they have in them. If the numbers anywhere around 500 miles, then consider ordering a replacement.
How To Tell When Its Time To Replace Your Running Shoes
Since shoes dont wilt, disappear, or come with a sell-by date, how do you know when its time to retire them? You can look for clues on your run or on the shoes themselves, and supplement with some tracking over time.
Chances are, youll be able to sense that your shoes have broken down before you can see that anythings amiss.
If you start to feel as though youre not getting the performance that you had before, or if youre starting to get new aches and pains, it might be time for a new pair, Dr. Conenello says. Anything from soreness in your heels to knee pain could signal the end of your sneakers blisters or chafing in new places could also be a sign. Many runners notice they have a type of ache that only appears when their shoes are close to their demise, whether thats shin splints or hip soreness, Metzler says.
Finally, you might also just notice that running feelsdifferent. When you get a new shoe, it feels light and lively and bouncy, Metzler says. Older pairs, meanwhile, lack the same spark or pizzazz. The shoe feels dead. And thats coming from that foam being worn out or compressed to the point that it cant be rejuvenated. As a result, your pace may slow even if youre expending the same amount of effort, making running more laborious and less, well, fun.
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Tricks To Make Your Shoes Last Longer
In the interest of athletic performance and injury prevention, its for the best that runners dont keep wearing a shoe well past its prime. But everyone wants to get their moneys worth out of good gearand if were honest, it can be tough to retire a pair that have fond memories tied to them. To that end, there are a few simple ways to make your favorite kicks last a bit longer.
How To Tell If Running Shoes Are Worn Out
Sometimes the eyeball test will tell you all you need to know about the age of your shoes, but other times worn out shoes might not be so obvious. If your shoes arent telling you theyre ready to be retired, your body might provide clues.
Here are some signs that your running shoes are ready for a slower life of mowing the lawn:
- Your shoes will feel flat. The bouncy midsole foam in a pair of new shoes will absorb impact associated with running, saving your feet and joints from taking a pounding. As your shoes age, though, the foam loses some of its ability to rebound, like if you put a brick on top of a marshmallow.
- Nagging aches and pains. Hard workouts or increased mileage can make you feel sore the next day, but if little pains persist even after a normal run, it might be time for a refresh.
- Worn soles. The outsoles of your running shoes have tread just like the tires on your car, which helps cushion your landings and grip the pavement. But the ground is abrasive, especially if you primarily run on concrete and asphalt. If your soles sport bald patches and excessive wear, they wont serve you as well as a new pair.
- Uneven wear. If your worn soles are uneven, this can signal an even greater problem than just needing new shoes. It could mean you need different types of shoes, like a pair of the best stability shoes, to better support your feet. If that’s the case, take them with you when you go to get fitted for your next pair.
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Tips For Buying New Running Shoes
The Twist Test
When running, the foot flexes, so to ensure a natural stride the shoe needs to crease at the same flex point as your foot. This flex point in the shoe should occur at the same position as the balls of your feet. A shoe that is too flexible fails the Twist Test. If you hold the shoe at both ends and twist the shoe it should feel firm in order to provide adequate support. However, a shoe without proper support tends to twist easily and isnt suitable for running.
Sometimes its difficult to know when its time for new running shoes since we tend to adapt to the discomfort they cause over time. To avoid doing more harm than good, it is recommended that runners buy a new pair of running shoes halfway through the life expectancy of your current shoes and rotate between the two. Should the difference in comfort be significant between the two pairs, its time for the older pair to retire.
Hopefully, with these 5 five signs its time to replace your running shoes, you can take your best foot forward in a pain-free run. Still feeling pain after having replaced your running shoes? Perhaps there is a bigger issue.
At The Foot Hub, our Sydney podiatrists specialise in biomechanical foot assessments to help pinpoint key problem areas in your gait that may not be easily corrected by a simple change of running shoes. Why be walking on sunshine, when you could be running on sunshine? Book an appointment online or call us on 02 8096 4763.
When Should You Buy New Running Shoes
How long does a pair of running shoes last?
How often should I get a new pair?
These questions are two of the most often asked questions at running shoe stores. It usually comes up after the running shoe salesman has drug out three or four pairs of shoes and the customer likes more than one model. The customer then gathers final facts to come to a decision.
What are we talking about here? It’s not whether the rubber on the outsole has peeled off, or stitching in the upper wears out. Rather, these questions are in regards to how long the cushioning and/or support lasts. The heart of shoe cushioning lies in the midsolethat foamy layer of, well, foam. It looks like marshmallow fluff. The most common bed of cushioning in running shoes is a rubberized form of EVA, the acronym standing for ethylene vinyl acetate, a thermoplastic polymer has applications ranging from surfboards to biomedical engineering. When you slip on a pair of untouched running shoes with a soft, bouncy midsole of compressed EVA, it can feel as if the floor beneath your feet has taken on the quality of a trampoline.
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How To Make Running Shoes Last Longer
Replacing your running shoes time and time again can easily put a hole in your pocket. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make your shoes last longer. Among these techniques are:
- Buy two pairs of shoes
The midsole compresses every time you run, and it takes around 24 hours to return to its normal form. It sounds expensive, but buying two or three pairs and using them alternately will help each pair last much longer than if you only run in one pair. Using a pair for only once or twice a week will help reduce the stress on it, hence allowing it to last longer.
- Run on alternating surfaces
Concrete pavement is hard, which forces the midsole of the shoes to compress more in order to absorb the shock against the foot. Running on softer surfaces such as trail or grass once in a while can help prolong the life of your shoes. This is because the shoes would not have to compress as much to protect and support the foot.
- Keep the running shoes clean
Running shoes are also intended to be used on difficult terrain such as muddy surfaces. Regularly cleaning your shoes will not only make them look good and presentable, but also help extend their lifespan.
There are proper ways to take care of your shoes and avoid the risks of damage. Remember not to throw your running shoes into the washing machine . The detergents can destroy the stuff that holds your shoes together.
- Take off your shoes properly
Theres Just No Springiness
Even if the outside of your shoes look great, you may need a new pair. The material of the sole can become compressed and lose its springiness and cushioning ability.
If youre unsure, bring your running shoes in! Were happy to take a look at them and tell you if its time for a new pair. We currently carry Brooks running shoes, and can help you find a size thats appropriate for you.
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What Does Neutral Mean
Good question. In the past, running brands tended to divide their shoes into two different categories: neutral and stability’. This was related to whether or not your foot rolled in too far over your ankle as your foot hit the ground . Stability shoes traditionally had a hard, medial post that ran along the inside arch of the shoe. These days, a lot of running brands are moving away from these categories and support has got a lot smarter, but running shoes will still fall into one of these two categories.
A neutral shoe is often one that is flexible and cushioned, suited to runners who dont especially overpronate when they run. If you have medium to high arches, youll normally find a neutral shoe is more comfortable. But again, the best way to know for sure is to have your gait analyzed.
There are also plenty of insoles on the market that promise to correct overpronation. But alongside this is a large body of recent research that suggests strengthening the foot and leg muscles is more effective in the long run , so its a good idea to seek professional advice before buying.
How Many Miles Are Running Shoes Good For
Your running shoe mileage and these other signs of wear will help you know when its time to replace your old running shoes.
Who doesnt love the moment you open up a new pair of running shoes and see clean, new kicks wrapped in tissue paper and brimming with potential? A fresh pair of running shoes can inspire you to set new goals, crush your old PR, or increase your mileage.
But the novelty wears off over time and eventually youll need to replace them. Running shoe mileage is one way to determine how long your shoes will last. But there are other factors to consider when determining when to replace your running shoes.
How Many Miles Should Running Shoes Last?
There is no set rule when it comes to replacing your running shoes. An October 2011 review of 18 years worth of research published in Footwear Science suggests that high-quality running shoes can last for more than 600 miles.
But experts generally advise that you get new running shoes every 300 to 500 miles. Thats a pretty big range. Whats more, training volume varies substantially from one runner to the next, and you probably dont put a pedometer on your running shoes. So, how do you know when its time to go shopping again?
Heres a general guide to give you an idea of how long your running shoes may last based on different training volumes.
- Weekly mileage: Up to 10 miles
- Replace shoes: Every 7.5 to 12.5 months
Training for a 5K or 10K
Training for a Half Marathon
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