Any avid runner has a favorite pair of shoes to run in. Whether worn for unmatched comfort or just as a lucky charm, runners can develop a strong relationship with their footwear that makes changing out their shoes an unsettling venture. Failing to change your shoes periodically, however, ignores what they’re actually for your safety. A good pair of running shoes should provide the support and handling necessary to minimize your risk of injury. Over time, the shoe wears down and becomes less effective at protecting your feet and your entire lower body.
The investment value of running shoes
A good pair of running shoes isn’t cheap, but the alternative—buying a low-cost, ineffective pair of shoes—is a dangerous gamble. Good running shoes are an investment in your health, minimizing your risk of injuries that can result from the stress of running. That doesn’t mean the most expensive pair is the best pair; you need to match your feet to the shoe that’s the best fit. It’s best to upgrade before your current pair has clearly worn down.
Knowing when it’s time to upgrade
Experts differ on how long to wear running shoes— anywhere from 300 to 600 miles is recommended—but runners can choose the right time based on the shoe’s appearance and performance. Running shoes may have reached the end of their life if:
- They fail the twist test. The inner structure of a running shoe’s sole is very strong and sturdy when new, but as it ages, it gets less supportive. By twisting the heel and toe against one another and feeling the resistance, you can gauge how worn out the shoe is, especially when comparing it to a new shoe.
- You’re experiencing new aches and soreness. If you have shin soreness, joint aches, lower back pain, or other discomfort developing in your feet and/or lower body, it could be because the midsoles, which cushion and stabilize your feet, are giving out. If that’s the case, you’ll feel the significant difference from a new pair of shoes.
- The tread has worn down. A smooth underside of the shoe not only shows its age, but it creates a greater risk of slipping, especially on wet or slippery surfaces. Your shoes need to provide good traction or they aren’t helping you. Be careful though — the midsole can wear down before you see significant wear on the tread.
Finding the perfect fit
Choosing the right pair of shoes isn’t as simple as choosing a cool style. Beyond making sure the shoe is the proper size, it also needs to suit your unique feet. It’s important to consider the height of your arch, foot span, and even how your feet strike the ground. Having your feet measured and also evaluated for running mechanics is a great way to identify your specific needs. A local shoe store can point you toward the right shoe types, even if you’re devoted to a single brand. For example, Asics running shoes come in a variety of styles for a wide range of runners.
Change can be hard, especially when you’re committed to the running shoes you have, but wearing footwear beyond its lifespan is dangerous to play. Protect your feet and lower body by upgrading your shoes as soon as signs of breakdown start to appear. In doing so, you’ll avoid injuries and be able to spend more time comfortably exploring the world.