Running shoes are vital to preventing injuries and protecting your feet. Not only do they protect your feet from hard or sharp objects that may be on the ground, they also provide stability and cushioning. On average, a runner’s foot strikes the ground between 1,500-1,700 times per mile (Prentice, 2013). It is essential to wear shoes that are going to help absorb some of the impact while running. Wearing shoes with cushioning that is worn down or virtually nonexistent will put you at a greater risk for injury.
When should you replace your running shoes?
According to Prentice (2013) running shoes should be replaced between 350-550 miles and running flats should be replaced every 125-250 miles. You are probably looking at that number and wondering why there is such a huge gap between the two numbers? The reasoning for this is because the life of a shoe depends highly upon multiple factors. If you are not properly landing on your foot with each strike, your shoes will wear down quicker in the areas that receive greater force. Another factor to consider is the body weight of the person wearing the shoes. A lighter person will place less impact on their shoes, causing them to last longer. If you tend to land on your heels while running, your body is experiencing an impact force that is 2.5-3 times your body weight with each foot strike (Prentice, 2013). Another factor to consider is the surface that you typically run on. Road running will naturally wear down your shoes at a greater pace than trail running.
What if I have no idea how many miles are on my shoes?
Try to remember how long you have had your shoes. If you cannot remember the last time you purchased running shoe, it is probably time for a new pair. If you are consistently running 4 times a week, you should replace your shoes just about every season. Another way to evaluate if you need new shoes is by examining your shoes. Look for worn tread, if they lean to one side, and check the rigidity of the mid-sole.
Dave Camire (2013) from Active suggests that you take your hand and place it on the stiff part of the heel (the heel counter) and then with your other hand use the thumb to push in on the cushioning part towards the bottom of the shoe. Newer shoes will have a rigid feel to them as opposed to older shoes. In the older shoes, the mid-sole material has become compressed and does not provide the support and stability that it once did. Another indicator that it may be time for new shoes is aches and pains in your low back, knees, or ankles.
Use the right tool for the job. You wouldn’t use a wrench to drive a nail into a hard surface; you would use a hammer because it is made for that purpose. Would it accomplish the job? Probably, but the risk of something going wrong increases and it wouldn’t be the most effective way to complete the job. The same concept applies with shoes. When you are running, make sure that you wear running shoes not basketball shoes or tennis shoes. Each shoe is made specifically to protect and support the foot for that particular sport. As you read above, when an individual is running they experience a great amount of impact. Because of this, it is essential to make sure that you are wearing proper shoes. If you are wearing the wrong type of shoes, you are placing yourself at a greater risk for injury.
Prentice, W. (15thEd.) (2013). Principles of Athletic Training: A Competency-Based Approach.