It’s impossible to provide a generic answer to the question, “How long do shoes last?” because it depends on so many variables.
Here are just a few factors that will impact the life of shoes:
- How often they are worn;
- How active the wearer is;
- The weight and gait of the wearer;
- The purpose of the footwear – are they running shoes, school shoes, work shoes, dress shoes, gym shoes, dancing shoes or something else entirely?
- The terrain that they are worn on;
- Weather damage – rain and snow (unlikely here in Brisbane!) cause shoes to deteriorate more quickly;
- And – are we talking about an adult or child?
The simple truth is, many of us hang on to our shoes long past their “use by” date.
And even when we do replace them, it’s usually because they’re looking a little scruffy, or have become quite smelly, rather than the most important reason of all:
Our shoes are no longer doing our feet any favours!
The Shelf Life of Modern Shoes
Today’s shoes have been scientifically designed to provide:
This is not just the costly, “high tech” sporting shoes – even our “everyday” shoes (worn for about 80% of the week), all include three layers:
- Upper (for protection);
- Midsole (for cushioning/support);
- Outersole (for traction)
One of the major components in modern shoes is foam rubber (technically known as Ethylene Vinyl Acetate, or EVA), which is comprised of air cells purposely constructed to absorb impact. The main advantage of this material is that it is light weight as well as fit for purpose – but it also means that shoes today have a definite “shelf life”.
Signs that your Shoes are Due for Replacement
Asking “How long do shoes last?” is a bit like asking, “How long is a piece of string?!”
To reduce this guesswork, here are some signs that your shoes should be replaced:
- 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.
- Press Test – Use your fingers and thumb to press into the centre of the sole. Does it feel cushy? If it is hard and unyielding, that means it’s time for new shoes..
- Twist Test – If you can pick up the shoe and twist it like a wet towel, it means the shoe is tired.
- Tap the Heel Counter (Rear of Shoe) – Does it sound hard or does it simply fold and collapse? If it is the latter, consider replacing your shoes..
- And most importantly, Listen to your Body. Are you suddenly experiencing aches and pains after your daily walk or a shift at work? This may be your body’s way of letting you know that your shoes are no longer up to the job.
How to Increase the Life of your Shoes
There are also a few things thing that you can do to prolong the life of your shoes, such as:
- buying quality footwear;
- applying a waterproof spray;
- keeping shoes clean and well cared for;
- storing your shoes properly;
- wearing orthotics if they have been prescribed;
- and rotating shoes to give each pair time to recover
Don’t take your shoes for granted! It’s a good idea to check them regularly for signs of wear and tear, and to replace them when necessary.
Your feet and in fact your entire body will thank you for it!