Trevor Lane Podiatry

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How Long Should Your Shoes Last?

Equipment for those structures way down there! How important are the shoes we choose for our feet?  What should I consider when choosing shoes? How long should my chosen footwear last?  When is it time to put aside the old faithfuls for a new pair?

Whether you are jogging about your local streets for self satisfaction or training for an event (marathon, ½ marathon, tri or community awareness initiative), todays footwear has been scientifically designed to provide:

  • Protection
  • Cushioning
  • Traction

Be it your everyday shoe (80% of the week) or your sports shoes they all offer (tri-layered)

  • Upper (Protector)
  • Midsole (Cushioning/Support)
  • Outersole (Traction)

Shoes are designed to be fit to your specific lower limb mechanics, but more importantly, owing to the modern light weight material used (EVA’s) within have a “shelf life”.

E.V.A.: Ethylene Vinyl Acetate, otherwise known as expanded rubber or foam rubber, comprises air cells purposely constructed to absorb impact.

However, like most things this foam eventually looses its shine.

The average person’s foot will strike the ground between 10-14,000 times/day, or 120,000 km’s in a lifetime.  How does this relate to the wear/expected wear of my shoes?  Experts are suggesting; on average a person of reasonable fitness may walk anywhere between 3-5 kms/day equating to approximately between 1000 – 1700 kms/yr.  Additional factors such as the individual’s weight and foot strike also determine when ones shoes require replacing, thus allowing for a somewhat large range of time estimated to purchase new pair of shoes.

To reduce this guesswork, signs to look out for that indicate your feet’s friends are in dire straight are:

  1. Creasing of the midsole – if there are prominent crease lines evident before you even place your thumb to check the compressive response of your shoe, the midsole is more or less worn out.
  2. Press Test – Use your fingers and thumb to press into the centre of the sole.  Does it feel cushy? Or hard and unyielding?  If it is the latter – consider some new shoes.
  3. Twist Test – Pick up the shoe and twist it like a wet towel, if so the shoe is tired.
  4. The Heel Counter (Rear of Shoe) – Tap it, does it sound hard or does it simply fold and collapse, again if the latter consider replacement pair.

Most importantly, listen to your body.  Are you suddenly experiencing aches and pains after your daily walk or busy business day on your feet, if so this may be your body’s way of suggesting the shoes are on their way out.  Time to consider a new pair.

Consider the following analogy, the interval at which we replace our tyres on our cars. We know that when the traction or the tyre tread begins to wear out or is worn out (around every 25,000kms) we increase the risk of an accident / injury exponentially.

This analogy also applies to our bodies, shoes have a shelf life/and kilometre rating, when the magic has faded, the support has given way to jarring/twisting of our joints, injury potential is inevitable hence reducing our health in the long run.

So remember, whether you’re a runner or a walker, the general consensus with regards to footwear replacement is not a function of time but rather a function how many kilometres the individual has done in the shoes.