New Year, New Shoes: How to tell if your Running Shoes need Replacing

As a dedicated runner, you understand the importance of investing in quality running shoes. But now that the new year has rolled around, how do you know when it’s time to bid farewell to your trusty pair and welcome in a new set of kicks? As a podiatrist with experience in the running shoe retail industry, I’ve seen firsthand the impact that worn-out shoes can have on foot health and overall running performance. In this guide, we’ll explore the key features to look for in a worn-out running shoe and discuss when it’s time to consider a replacement.

  1. Outsole Degradation: The outsole, the bottom part of your running shoe that makes contact with the ground, is a critical indicator of wear and tear. Signs of outsole degradation include visible bald spots, loss of tread depth, and uneven wear patterns. If you notice a significant decrease in traction or the appearance of holes, it’s a clear sign that your shoes may no longer provide the necessary support and stability.
  2. Dead-Shoe Test: The midsole of a running shoe is responsible for cushioning and shock absorption. Over time, the midsole can lose its elasticity and become less responsive. Perform the “dead-shoe test” by holding the shoe by the heel and toe and trying to bend the heel and toe towards each other. If you’re able to significantly deform the shoe, it’s an indication that the cushioning has worn out. A worn-out midsole can lead to increased impact on your joints and a higher risk of injuries.
  3. Heavy Creases in Midsole: Examine the midsole for heavy creases or wrinkles. Creases may develop over time as the shoe loses its ability to bounce back. Excessive creasing can affect the shoe’s ability to provide adequate support and absorb shock, making it less effective in protecting your feet during runs.
  4. Stretched or Torn Upper: The upper part of the shoe, including the mesh or fabric, is essential for maintaining the shoe’s structure and securing your foot. Inspect the upper for signs of stretching, tearing, or visible damage. A compromised upper can result in decreased stability, inadequate support, and an increased risk of blisters or other foot issues.
  5. Lack of Responsiveness: A pair of running shoes should respond to your movements, providing a comfortable and supportive platform. If you find that your shoes feel flat, unresponsive, or fail to adapt to your foot’s natural motion, it’s a strong indication that the cushioning and responsiveness have diminished, compromising your overall running experience.

Knowing when to replace your running shoes is crucial for maintaining optimal foot health and preventing injuries. Regularly inspect your shoes for outsole degradation, perform the dead-shoe test to assess midsole flexibility, check for heavy creases, examine the upper for damage, and be attentive to the overall responsiveness of your shoes. As a general rule of thumb, consider replacing your running shoes every 600-800 kilometres, but these signs of wear can be more telling than mileage alone. Look after your feet and go smash those 2024 running goals!