We all know your running shoes can play a critical role in enhancing your performance and preventing injuries, right? That is why it is vital to find the right shoe for your feet and running style. However, replacing your old runner shoes at the right time is just as critical, because worn-out footwear can expose you to a host of injuries and limit your performance. And, the biggest danger here is that wearing out is gradual, meaning your shoes may still look fine, but their function may already be undermined.
So, we have asked experts from this running shoe store to prepare this guide. Read on to learn when and how often you should replace your running shoes.
The Risks of Wearing Worn-Out Running Shoes
Wearing worn-out and old running shoes will not necessarily cause an injury, but it may contribute to developing injuries over time. The thing is that runners who wear degraded shoes may unconsciously change their biomechanics.
One of the most common changes in biomechanics is an increase in stance time (learn more on the running gait cycle here). In addition, runners can begin to develop compensatory patterns to reduce the discomfort in their feet, which can cause them to alter their gait and form. For instance, less forward lean of the body and more plantarflexion at push-off can lead to an increased load on the calf muscles and the Achilles tendon.
Moreover, old shoes, especially trail running shoes, also tend to lose traction, which can be dangerous when running on uneven terrain, slippery surfaces, and/or inclement weather. During the rainy season, for instance, old shoes will lose their grip and increase the chance of slipping, which can cause injuries directly.
How Long Do Running Shoes Last and When to Replace
So, how many miles can running shoes last, and what are the signs of wear?
Generally, experts recommend that runners should replace their shoes every six months or every 400-500 miles. Marathon runners or runners who log high mileage should replace their shoes more frequently, approximately every 250-300 miles. It is important to note that these numbers are merely a guideline, and runners should also consider other factors.
The first factor to consider is the wear on the cushioning of your shoes, i.e. the midsole. The thing is that your feet are subjected to forces approximately 2-3 times the body weight when you run, and if your shoes fail to dampen a considerable amount of these forces, they will be transferred to the bones and joints of your lower limbs.
Different cushioning materials, such as EVA foam and gels, can wear out differently. For example, EVA foam, like the one used in Challenger 7 Hoka women’s shoes and many other shoes from other brands, tends to become compressed and does not bounce back over time. As a result, more force and stress are absorbed by your feet, and this shock travels up to your shins, knees, legs, hips, and lower back. So, if you notice that your shoes are less responsive, it is a clear sign that it is time to replace them.
Another factor to consider is the arch support in your running shoes. Over time, the arch support material can also wear out, causing overpronation. This can affect your gait and increase your risk of developing injuries. Normally, your foot should roll inward about 15 degrees to absorb the shock naturally. However, overpronation places your foot and ankle in a poor position to absorb shock and alters the line of stress going up the kinetic chain to your shins, knees, legs, and hips. So, if you notice excessive wear or flattening in the arch support, it is time to replace your shoes.
Runners who wear stability running shoes and motion control running shoes designed to correct natural overpronation need to pay close attention to the materials and construction elements used to support the arches, such as medial posting and a firm heel counter.
It is somewhat counterintuitive, but the soles wear out the slowest regardless of the abrasion and abuse they receive. So, if the treads of your old running shoes show signs of wear that reduce their grip, it is definitely time to replace them with new ones.
How to Choose the Right Replacement Shoes
First, consider your pronation type, which refers to how your foot rolls inward as you run. Normal pronation, overpronation, and supination are the three types. Depending on your pronation type, you may need running shoes with specific features to help correct or accommodate your natural foot movement.
Second, take into account the width of your feet and pick shoes that fit comfortably.
Finally, pay attention to your strike pattern, which refers to how your foot hits the ground when running. Forefoot, midfoot, or heel strikers need different shoes with varying cushioning and support.
When choosing new running shoes, it is important to break them slowly by using them for mild activity. This is because plantar pressure in new running shoes is generally higher due to a lack of flexibility (refer to Plantar Fasciitis).
- Replace your running shoes every 400-500 miles or more frequently if you are a marathoner.
- Inspect the cushioning, threads, and supportive elements.
- Understand your pronation type.
- Break into new shoes slowly to avoid injuries caused by a lack of flexibility.
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