Working out in a pair of worn-out shoes can be detrimental to your fitness success since things like lack of support, shock absorption and protection in your shoes can lead to injury. And injuries can slow, or even halt, your fitness progress.
Here are a few signs that it’s time for you to retire your old kicks and invest in a new pair that will keep you moving safely towards your goals.
- The miles are adding up. The typical athletic shoe is built to last up to 500 miles. While some activities are not as hard on your shoes as others (ie., walking vs. running), it is unlikely that you will get the best cushioning and support after the 500-mile mark since most shoes lose 50% of their compression capability by this point. Make a note of when you started using your shoes so that you are not guessing about how long you have used them.
- You’re experiencing aches and soreness. If you’re experiencing minor aches and pains (like shin splints, knee discomfort or blisters from friction) during and after your workouts that you weren’t feeling when you first starting using your shoes, that can be an indication that it’s time to shop for a new pair.
- There’s visible wear and tear. Every now and then, you should visually inspect your shoes for these signs: the sole tread pattern has worn down; there are wrinkles on the side or bottom of the sole from breakdown of the support and cushioning; the heel is worn down more on one side than the other; there are visible sweat lines in the inner sole, and it has become flat and worn-out; and, the upper parts of the shoe are thin or have holes in it. The “cushion test” is a great indicator to assess if your shoes are compressed and not providing enough support. Using your thumb, push the outsole (bottom) upward into the midsole. A new shoe will show lines and wrinkles that are easy to see. Alternatively, a worn shoe will show minimal compression meaning there’s little cushioning left.
- You’re getting back into exercise. Athletic shoes have a life span even if you aren’t using them. Since they are glued together, the air pockets in the cushioning may be slowly dissipating. Shoes need to be constantly used to keep them functioning. Therefore, even if you have a pair of shoes that aren’t completely worn out from previous use, you might want to consider a fresh pair if you’re getting back into your exercise regime.
- You’re changing up your exercise goals. The type of exercise you’re doing influences the best shoe for you. So, if you’re shifting from one type of exercise to another, you might want to look into new shoes since the wear patterns on your old shoes could be moulded in a different shape which might not protect your feet for new movements. You might even consider having two pairs of shoes to switch up, depending on what exercises you plan on doing.
- Your body has changed. You’ve just completed a transformation program and have experienced a drastic change in your weight – congratulations! However, the biomechanics of your feet may have changed as well which can influence the shape and fit of your shoes.
- They smell terrible. The more you work out, the more you sweat. The more you sweat, the more your shoes stink. Who wants to work out in stinky shoes? To prevent smell, air out your shoes between uses in a place where they are exposed to air in order to fully dry them out. And if you put your shoes in the washing machine, allow them to air dry rather than putting them in the dryer as this will break down the glue.
Yes, good athletic shoes can be expensive, but it is certainly money well spent since a new pair of shoes will cost you far less than an injury! Shop for your new kicks at a store with knowledgeable sales people who can analyze your gait (which is the way your feet move when you walk or run) so that you get the proper shoes for you!