How Do I Know When To Replace My Running Shoes and How Do I Choose My New Ones?

Proper shoe selection and care can help keep you active.

Let's start in the beginning, when you are first looking to purchase some running shoes or walking shoes.

Most of the time, runners purchase a shoe a half size larger than your street shoes. This should give you about a quarter inch (or a thumbnail's space) of additional room from your big toe to the top of the shoe. It's best to have a professional take a look at your arch and analyze you walking/running on a treadmill to get the best idea of the structure of your feet and how you walk and run. Many running stores have someone who do this all day and would be happy to tell you what type of shoe you need. Make sure you mention if you are walking or running, and also mention your milage and terrain.

During this exam, they will be looking at how your foot hits the ground, your arch, lower extremity stability, joint flexibility as well as your height and weight. Weight and mileage make a difference as to how long your shoes will last before they need to be replaced. It also determines what kind of support you will need: neutral, motion control or stability. It works the same way with tires for your car! The heavier your car, and the more often you drive it, the more often you will need to replace your tires. Same logic.

Another tip, your training and work schedule make a difference if you need one or two pair of shoes. If you wear a pair of shoes all day, then wake up early for a run, you will need to rotate two pair of shoes to get the maximum support and cushion. The midsole foam of the shoe takes 24 hours to fully recover to its original shape. Having this support and cushion helps to avoid injuries.

One last thing to know about fit is often overlooked and that is LACES.

If you can kick your shoes off without untying them, your shoes are TOO LOOSE. Conversely, if you feel tingling in your toes or binding across the top of the foot after a few minutes, they are TOO TIGHT. There is an extra hole at the top of the shoe to make them more snug and increase ankle stability if you feel the shoes are too loose.

Now that we have finally chosen our new shoes, let's break them in. Wear them around the house for a few days. By doing this, the insert can conform to your foot's unique shape. Next, run some shorter distances or perform some speed drills in your new shoes. If you plan to run a long race in your shoes, put in about 30 miles in them before race day.

Finally, how long should running shoes last?

On average, between 300-500 miles. In other words, for someone who runs 20 miles a week, you should get new shoes every 4-6 months. After a long, happy life with your shoes, what are other signs that you need to replace them? Aside from mileage, you can lay your shoes on a table or flat surface. If they tilt to one side, or wobble easily back and forth, they are worn unevenly, and should be discarded. Heel strikers usually wear down the fastest. Here is a list of other tips to know when it's time to get new shoes:

1) Your legs feel tired. Wait a week to make sure you are not just tired. If the shoes still feel flat, it's time to replace them.

2) Your feet are sore.

3) Your shoes treads are wearing out.

4) Your shoes have lost their shock, bounce or spring.

5) You are starting to get blisters or brushburn on your feet.

Now it's time to begin the process again!



Amelia Embley MPT Amelia completed her Masters of Physical Therapy at LSUHSC-New Orleans. Her specialties include kinesiotaping, dry needling, Graston technique, manual therapy, cupping, SFMA, FMS and ART of the spine.

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