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How to Know When It’s Time for New Running Shoes

Sports Injuries Can Result from Broken-Down Shoes

© 2013 Bridget Sandorford; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without written permission.

A well-beat-up running shoe; photo courtesy Cogdog

A good pair of running shoes is essential for improving your performance and preventing injuries. Once you find a good pair, you may want to wear them all the time—you may even be hesitant to let them go.

However, failing to replace shoes when needed can significantly increase your risk of injury, which can set back your fitness gains by months or even years. It is always a good idea to have reference book on running injury-free and recovering from sports injuries on hand.

Sometimes, it may not be obvious when you need new shoes. Even a pair of shoes that seems to be in good shape and still be comfortable could be putting you at jeopardy for injuries. Here’s how to know when it’s time for new running shoes:

Too Many Miles

Your shoes are a bit like your car: they are only good for a certain number of miles before they need to be replaced. You can wear your shoes for 300-400 miles, or for about 6 months, before you have to replace them.

You can use your training logs to figure out how many miles you have on the shoes, or you can save the receipt to check the date that you bought them.

Soles Show Signs of Wear

The easiest way to tell when shoes must be replaced is that they start showing signs of wear. Your soles may start thinning or take on a shiny and slick appearance. If you can’t see that the soles are thin, you hold the front and back end of the shoe and twist it.

If the shoe doesn’t feel firm, the soles have gotten thin, and the shoe likely needs to be replaced. Holes, tears and other signs of wear may also be signs that it’s time to replace your shoes.

You Feel Pain

Your body can tell you when something’s wrong—listen to it. When your shoes start to break down, you will feel it in your body. You may have aches or pains in your feet, shins, legs or hips.

You may feel a general soreness. You may feel like something is just not right in general. If you start to feel these signs, you should investigate your shoes and determine if they could be the cause. In most cases, they likely are.

New Shoes Feel Better

Sometimes you need to know what feels good to know that something else feels bad. If you are feeling any soreness or pain, or if something just doesn’t feel right about your shoes, try on a new pair in the store—preferably the same model, if you can.

If the new shoes feel better on your feet, it’s a good sign that there has been a breakdown in the support of your old shoes. By trying on the same model pair of shoes, you can be sure it’s not just a difference in the design that’s accounting for the better feel.

Wearing the right pair of shoes every time you go out for a run is essential. You will prevent injuries and ensure that you’re able to give your best performance every time. Make sure you monitor your shoes carefully so that you can replace them when needed.

One final caveat—don’t just jump into your normal routine with new shoes; they should be broken in on shorter runs. Why? Shoes adapt to your unique style, stride, pronation/supination, etc.

New shoes, even the identical model may look the same but they are not. The angle of wear on the soles, the areas of compression in the midsoles, and many other factors are different.

About the Author:

Bridget Sandorford is a freelance blog and culinary writer, where recently she’s been researching cooking schools in Chicago. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting, and working on her first cookbook.

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