When Is the Right Time to Replace Your Running Shoes?

Who doesn’t love that moment after you take home your most recent purchase and open the box? Shoes especially give us that feeling just like no other. Because as soon as you wear them, even once, they will never be as in pristine condition as they were that first time you saw them.

In their newest state, they are at their most protective and supportive. However, just like most things we buy, shoes wear down over time too. How quickly this happens depends on how far you travel in them, your running technique and physical characteristics such as height, weight and foot type. Will Henneken, a consulting Podiatrist from Queensland Foot Centres, gives us some more examples:  

  • Running on the road/bitumen will wear out shoes quicker than running off-road on surfaces like grass 
  • Someone who runs daily and is a heavier runner will wear their shoes out quicker than a lighter runner

So, we know that shoes deteriorate, how is the best way to know when they’re past their prime? Will tells us that unfortunately there is ‘no one size fits all’ indication. It’s inaccurate to rely on a timeframe or a specific number of kilometres to decide the end of life for a pair of shoes. If you’re not too fussed on looks, then you might be curious as to why your beaten-up shoes should be replaced at all.

Why Do You Need To Replace Your Running Shoes?

Despite obvious scuff marks and additional wear and tear on your shoes, they might appear to be working in great condition. Unknown to you is the real damage that lies underneath. Over time, the structural integrity of your shoes diminish, and they no longer provide stability and support. They begin to lose shock absorption and cushioning that provide your feet, knees and hips with the protection it needs.

When you run, or even walk for long periods in worn-down shoes that no longer have the supportive components or technology it was designed with, you increase the risk of injury as well as general aches and pains. Studies have shown that wearing worn down running shoes actually changes your usual posture and gait. Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS), Runner’s Knee, shin splints and Achilles tendonitis are all common injuries that occur by the misalignment of worn-out shoes.

How Do You Know When Your Shoes Are Too Old?

Many shoes are tried and tested for their mileage durability – how far you can travel in them. Once again, we’d like to stress that there is no true indicator or number of kilometres that determine when your shoes are past their use-by date. If you’ve run 600km in your shoes, it’s probably time to part ways and find a replacement. There are signs you should look out for that give you a hint for when it’s time to move on. 

The Shoe Tells You

The shoe starts to feel ‘dead’ and ‘tired’

If your shoe starts to feel dead, tired and that there is no buoyancy whatsoever, it’s probably time to replace them. As you rack up more kilometres, the impact from your strides causes the shock absorption technology in your shoes to deteriorate. A good way to check is if you press your thumb into the midsole of the shoe. If it feels hard and tough, rather than spongy, it means the cushioning has compressed – meaning that it’s no longer offering its designed support.

The treads are worn out 

Just the appearance of the shoe itself will be able to tell you if it’s time for a replacement. Flip your shoe over and take a good look at the treads on the bottom of the sole. If they’re worn down and have a smooth appearance, it’s time to depart with them. The treads, also known as flex grooves that you see on the bottom of your runners are an important part of their makeup. They’re designed to roll in sync with your natural stride and provide traction and grip support for various running surfaces.

Your Body Will Tell You

You have new aches and pains

Did you know that when we run we land with almost four times our body weight? Now that’s a lot of force on our ankles and knees don’t you reckon? That’s why we’re placing such importance on ensuring that your shoes are providing adequate shock absorption. If you start to develop new symptoms such as increased muscle fatigue, shin splints or general pain in your joints – knees or ankles, it could be that your shoes are worn out. Listen to your body, what’s it telling you? 

Your feet are becoming extra sore after a run

Are you starting to notice that your feet are becoming increasingly sorer after a run than what they usually would? It could mean that over the kilometres you’ve travelled, your shoes have moulded and worn down into a shape that no longer fits your feet properly or efficiently. If your feet are feeling more sore and stiff, it could mean it’s time for a new pair.   

We can compare running in worn out and tired shoes to driving a car on bald tyres. You could keep going, but the chance of something bad happening increases with every rotation of the tyre. The same goes for shoes, but with every run and every stride. The longer you keep going in unsupportive shoes, the more at risk you put yourself suffering an injury.

Finding Your Next Replacement

First things first, another tip from Queensland Foot Centres Podiatrist, Will Henneken. He suggests trying to avoid moving into a new shoe within two weeks of an event. He proposes a 2 week transition period to break in a pair of new runners; starting with shorter runs before wearing them for long runs. Although, if your situation is urgent and you haven’t had many issues with your current pair, it would be safe to assume a replacement of the same shoes shouldn’t give you any issues. 

However, if you have been experiencing any regular injuries or general aches and pains, it might be time to review your footwear. A podiatrist takes a deeper dive into your symptoms and what could be causing them. Sometimes it can be as simple as renewing or upgrading to a new style of shoe. Other times, your situation may require further intervention such as a change in shoe category, addressing strength and flexibility deficits or even an orthotic. 

200 million steps and 177,500km… that’s the average amount of steps and kilometres we walk during our lifetime. That doesn’t even include running. Your feet have to carry you all that way. Let us help make sure you’re taking good care of them. Want to learn more about our Podiatry service? Read more here.

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