The purpose of exercise is to stress your body in a way that makes it stronger and healthier and gives you a feeling of well being. Whether it’s walking or running on roads or trails or something else, it’s important to pick a shoe that feels good on your feet with the proper fit.
Your running shoes are more than just cool looking fashion items, they are lightweight protective devices for your feet. Your personal experience may vary, but running shoes are generally expected to provide support and cushioning for 300-500 miles, depending on your physique and how you use them. And most of you tend to replace your shoes within six to twelve months.
Once you’ve found the shoes that work best for you, you can just lace them up and go, and go and go! Consistency is the key to long term success, but it’s hard to keep running in the same pair of shoes if it hurts or doesn't feel good after a while.
So how do you know when it’s time to break up with your trusty kicks? Here are some warning signs:
1. New Aches and Pains
Aches and pains are sometimes part of staying fit, but onset of new aches without any changes in your training routine might mean your shoes just aren’t protecting you anymore.
2. Deep Wrinkles in the Midsole
The “midsole” is the slab of foam and attached supporting structures sandwiched between the outsole and the upper. Visible deep wrinkles here are a sign that the tiny air cushions in the foam are flattened out and no longer providing cushioning.
3. Leans to One Side
If your shoe leans to one side when it’s sitting on a flat surface, it’s time for new ones. Unless you’re told otherwise by a medical professional, the shoe should be level when viewed from the front or rear.
4. Badly Worn Outsole
The outsole is the bottom layer that grips the ground. If the tread is worn flat in places, or the midsole shows through in places that were originally covered, then the shoe’s cushioning and grip are compromised, and it’s almost certain that the midsole is shot too.
5. Broken Down Upper or Arch Support
If the shoe upper between the ball of your foot and your heel no longer holds your arch and instep securely, then an important part of the shoe’s functioning support is gone. This can happen if seams split, fabric stretches, or the insole is compressed. It’s time for a change.
6. Broken Down Heel
If your shoe has a firm heel cup built into the upper in the rear of the shoe (the “counter”) and it is now soft or leans to one side, then the shoe is lacking important support and should be replaced.
When in doubt, bring your shoes to a trusted expert such as Skirack, and we can help you decide. Chronic or acute discomfort should always be evaluated by your health care professional, who may also suggest new shoes.
About Sam Hewitt: Sam works in Skirack's run and cross country ski departments and has an MS in Exercise and Sport Science from Penn State and over 20 years in R&D of footwear and materials. Learn more about Sam in his Skirack staff bio.