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How often should you change your running shoes?

Woman Running in the Park

If you’re an avid runner or someone who enjoys running on an ad-hoc basis, it's crucial to understand the significance of maintaining proper footwear.

Your running shoes play a vital role in supporting your feet and overall running performance. Over time, running shoes will experience wear and tear, and it eventually becomes necessary to replace them.

The average lifespan of a running shoe depends on several factors—such as the individual's body weight, their running style, their running frequency, and the quality of their running shoes’ construction. On average, running shoes can last between 300 and 500 miles (480 and 800 kilometres). However, keep in mind that this is just a general guideline. Heavier runners and those with a more impactful running style may need to replace their shoes more frequently, whilst lighter runners may be able to extend the lifespan of their shoes slightly.

Continuing to use running shoes beyond their recommended lifespan can have adverse effects on your feet and overall running experience. As shoes wear down, their cushioning and shock-absorbing capabilities diminish. This can lead to increased stress on your joints, muscles and tendons, potentially causing discomfort, pain, or even injury. Over time, worn-out shoes can contribute to conditions such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis and stress fractures.

A concept for a Trainer

Understanding the elements of a running shoe can shed light on why it's crucial to change them regularly. The upper portion of a running shoe—typically made of breathable mesh or synthetic materials—provides support and flexibility. The midsole, usually constructed of cushioning materials like ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) or polyurethane foam, absorbs shock and offers stability. The sole will typically be made of rubber, which provides traction and durability.

Regularly changing your running shoes is essential to maintain optimum foot health and to prevent running-related injuries. By regularly replacing worn-out shoes, you will ensure optimal shock absorption, cushioning, stability and support for your feet. Fresh shoes also help distribute impact forces more evenly, reducing the strain on your joints and muscles. Additionally, new shoes offer better traction, enhancing your grip and stability during runs.

It's recommended that runners keep track of the mileage they cover in their shoes and replace them around the 300- to 500-mile mark. However, it's essential to also pay attention to any signs of wear and tear, such as flattened cushioning or visible damage to the sole. It’s wise to replace them if you do, even if you haven’t reached the mileage limit.

As you know, we stand upright as humans, and all of our weight is on our feet when we run. Therefore, our running shoes need to support us sufficiently and the shoes we wear also need to provide a good amount of grip on most surfaces. The consequences that come from not having adequate stability and grip could involve tripping up or going over on your ankle, for example, which could lead to an injury that stops your running plans for a while. It’s not worth the risk.

If you think that the running shoes you wear don’t make much difference to your running, pop on Google and research Nike’s AlphaFly shoes. There was a lot of fuss around them a few years ago, which saw them banned from many top-tier races after the discovery that 31 of 36 winners in these competitions wore them, and after other competitive runners reported an improvement of 5% on their times with them on.

As podiatrists, we care about the health of your feet and potential injuries/issues you may encounter from the shoes you wear whilst running, rather than the times they help you achieve. That said, it stands to reason that, if a running shoe supports you well, has sufficient cushioning and has an effective sole, it’s bound to have a positive impact on your performance.


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