When to replace your running shoes

When to Replace Your Running Shoes

Running shoes can be quite expensive, so it would make sense to get the most out of the them. Unfortunately, overused running shoes can begin to breakdown and may even cause blistering or other injuries to your feet.

The best time to replace your running shoes is when you begin to notice fatigue or soreness in your feet when you otherwise hadn’t.

This is a major sign that your running shoe is losing it’s ability to absorb shock and support your foot arch.

Key Point: To stay at peak athletic performance and to avoid risk of injury, you should replace your running shoes regularly. Exactly how often will depend on your level of activity and the quality of your running shoe.

When They’ve Racked Up High Mileage

Measuring the amount of miles you run in your shoes is a good way to determine their lifespan. Additionally, the life expectancy of your running shoes is shortened if you primarily use them on rough roads or trails, which cause more damage than smooth roads.

If you don’t have a tracker to measure the distance, knowing the date you bought them helps, too. That way, you can guess how much you’ve used them to a fair extent.

How Many Miles do Running Shoes Last?

There are a few guidelines to use if you’re unsure about how long a good pair of running shoes lasts, but it depends on your running style.

In good weather conditions, running shoes should last somewhere between 310 and 465 miles or (500 to 750 kilometers) before you need new ones. 

The lifespan of your running shoes is measured by distance rather than time, so experienced runners who use them on a daily basis have to switch them out more often than a casual runner.

When to Replace Running Shoes

When to Replace Your Running Shoes

When your running shoes feel uneven

If your shoes begin to show signs of age, remind them that it’s a natural part of life that happens to all of us. But, when your running shoes start to feel different, consult your local running shoe store. They may be able to advise you on what to do to fix it.

  • If your shoes are wearing down in the front, it’s a sign of overpronation, which means you turn your feet inward too far with each step.
  • If there are signs of wear and tear on the outer side of your running shoes, it’s a sign of supination, or shifting your weight outward with each step.

Pay attention to how your shoes wear so you can replace them before they wear out completely and separate so much they start to look like flip-flops. But on the bright side, they might make great beach shoes.

If You’re Having Running pains

Believe it or not, it doesn’t take long for worn-out shoes to affect your body. Muscle fatigue, shin splints, and joint pain (most notably in your knees) can all be side effects of wearing old running shoes. If you begin to feel pain in your knees, it’s a clear sign that you should probably buy a new pair ASAP.

But, if your shoes are new and you still experience running pains, visit your local running shoe store to see if there’s a better option for you.

The longer you run in the wrong shoes, the more likely damage can accumulate into something worse than simple aches and pains.

If They Have Worn-out Soles

The biggest telltale sign that you need a fresh new pair of running shoes is in the soles. With each run, the impact from your foot wears them down. If you one day find that your soles are smooth, it’s time to replace your running shoes.

Whether or not you have to buy entirely new shoes depends on if the soles are removable. If the soles of your running shoes are not removable, taking them out would damage the shoes further, so it’s best to buy a new pair.

Foot Conditions that Can Arise from Warn Out Running Shoes

The risk of these foot conditions occurring increases because of the continued use of worn-out running shoes.

First, shin splints are known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) because the pain radiates from the tibial plateau. Its main symptom is throbbing and aching in the shins after sprinting or running. Its primary cause is repetitive stress on the shinbone and the connective tissues attaching the muscles to the bones, which results in inflammation and pain.

Second, plantar fasciitis is a degenerative condition characterized by the inflammation of the plantar fascia, the band of connective tissue attaching the heel bone to the ball of the foot. The primary function is to provide support to the arch of the foot and, thus, absorbs shock during running, sprinting and walking.

Its main symptoms are pain in the heel, usually caused by the inflammation, which becomes more noticeable when taking your first steps after lying or sitting down for a prolonged period. While physical activity makes it feel better, the pain worsens after a prolonged period on your feet.

Third, runner’s knee is known as patellofemoral syndrome in medical circles because the most affected part is the kneecap (patella).  Pain in front, around and/or behind the kneecap is its primary symptom, but pain can also be felt when bending the knees to climb stairs, kneel, and squat. There may also be swelling around the affected knee, even a popping sound or grinding sensation in the knee.

Fourth, IT band syndrome manifests as sharp, stabbing pain on the outer side of the affected knee, which may or may not resolve on its own after warm-up exercises. But it can worsen 5-10 minutes after you start your run so you either just walk or stop to rest.

Other symptoms are warmth, redness and tenderness on the outside of your affected knee, a popping, clicking, or snapping sensation on said knee, and pain radiating up and down your leg.

Will Shoe Insoles Extend the Life of my Running Shoes?

No, even the best shoe insoles will do nothing to make your worn-out running shoes better in terms of performance and longevity! Store-bought and customized insoles will likely take up more space in your shoes, but these will neither increase their cushioning nor decrease the midsoles’ exposure to repetitive compression.

The bottom line: Once the cushioning on your running shoes are worn out, you should get new shoes! Skip the insoles if you don’t need them.

Tips to Help Your Running Shoes Last:

  • Run on the right terrain: Using your shoes on the type of terrain they are made for prolongs their life.
  • Only wear them for running: People often wear running shoes to go grocery shopping, around town, or around the house. Wearing your shoes for daily activities adds extra mileage in the end.
  • Become a more efficient runner: Learning to run light on your feet greatly reduces the amount of pressure on your shoes, and decreases the amount of damage they receive.
When to Replace Your Running Shoes

Conclusion: To get the most value out of your running shoes, only keep them as long as they do their job. Look to upgrade as soon as your notice that you’re not getting the support or comfort that you need.

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Randy Brangman

Randy Brangman is a Licensed Physical Therapist and Exercise Therapist and a former long distance runner. He is the founder and Lead Exercise Instructor at Trinity of Wellness. Spending more time in running shoes than flip flops, he travels the world while going through pair after pair. He is currently writing a book about joint therapy.