Why You Need to Throw Your Old Shoes Out Now

Your old shoes are killing you. Well, not really but they might be harming your back and causing some serious damage. 

In fact, around 80% of people experience back pain. If you're wearing the wrong shoes they can make this problem much worse. One of the best ways to ensure that you're wearing the wrong shoes 

But how long should shoes last? How long is too long to keep your favorite pair of sneakers or heels? Does the type of shoe impact how long you can keep them?

Last but not least how can you get the most out of any shoes you buy? If you've wanted to find the best pair of shoes to prevent any foot pain check out this guide.

Anatomy of the Foot 

Before we can explain how worn shoes can impact your back let's go into a little about the anatomy of the foot. The foot is comprised of 33 joints, 26 bones, 107 tendons, and 19 muscles. These tendons and muscles include 2 different groups intrinsic and extrinsic.

Beginning at the bottom portion of the leg and then enveloping the ankle and connecting to the foot the extrinsic muscle forms a sort of stocking that lets the foot have a range of motion.

These different muscles factors into what makes us capable of walking. When we have a healthy stride we walk with our heels hitting the floor first and the calcaneus bone and layer of fatty tissues absorb the shock as your foot moves forward.

When we wear tight footwear or shoes with bad arch support it can lead to bunions and hammertoes.

How Old Shoes Can Hurt Your Feet

Now that we understand how feet work let's go over how old shoes can disrupt this process.

Let's go over the type of wear and tear that your shoes can experience and how they can impact your feet and back.

One thing that people don't factor into buying their shoes and deciding how long to keep them is that feet grow as we age. The tendons and ligaments in the foot tend to stretch out. Things like gaining weight and pregnancy can increase shoe size.

Even if you've just bought the shoes a year or 2 ago and haven't worn them much you may want to evaluate if they fit comfortably. You should also reexamine your shoe size to ensure that you're wearing the correct size.

Despite picking the correct shoe size if your shoes are too worn then the soles that will usually absorb the shock will no longer work. The heel counter that keeps the back of the foot in the correct place will also tilt to one side leading to foot and back pain.

Signs Need to Throw Your Shoes Out

There are 3 main places where shoes can wear including the outsole, midsole and upper and interior. The midsole refers to the cushioning layer in the middle of the shoe. This layer is meant to absorb and shock as you're walking. The outsoles are the bottom of the shoe. 

We created a handy guide so you can tell if and when your shoes need to be replaced.

Midsole Shoe Wear

Outsole Shoe Wear 

Just How Long Should Shoes Last?

Now let's give a  simple answer to the main question of "how long do shoes last?"

On average you should keep your shoes for between 8 and 12 months before replacing them. This averages to around 300 to 500 miles for running shoes. One good indicator that your shoes are worn is when the support and cushioning start to become compressed and the material doesn't bounce back the way it used to.

Though depending on the material this may be longer or shorter.

Do Different Shoes Have Different Lifespans?

You know how often to replace shoes, well sort of. The shelf life of your shoe depends on the type of shoe and how often you're wearing them.

Running or Athletic Shoes

We've already talked about how running shoes can last between 8 and 12 months but let's get more in-depth as to why.

These shoes tend to have the shortest lifespan of any of the shoes on this list. The constant pressure these shoes are under causes the cushion to wear down more quickly. When you run the pressure you're putting on your shoes is several times your body weight.

Though the life of these shoes depends on the weight of the person wearing the shoes and how often they run with them. If you only run rarely then you only have to replace your shoes every year and a half.

Walking Shoes

The lifespan of these shoes can vary wildly depending on how much you wear them. These shoes are typically worn around 3 or 4 times each week for several hours per day you'll probably need to replace them once per year.

Heels

Nothing good can last and though high heels may be cute their narrow heels and thin soles mean they don't last a very long time. When you find damage in shoes I will most likely be on the bottom of the shoe near the toe. When the soles have worn down by half then it's time to go to a cobbler or go shoe shopping.

The Anatomy of a Good Shoe

Since we've answered the question "how often should you get new shoes?" Let's get into what makes good shoes great for your back.

Orthotic insoles are one of the best things you can do for your back. They work by alining your back and legs properly. They also prevent hyper-pronation, which is when the foot rolls inward toward the arch. This condition can result in flat feet when you're running or walking.

You'll need shoes that have good cushioning to prevent the impact when walking and doing daily activities.

The most important element of a good shoe is stability. You to be sure that your shoes have heel support. This support needs to be soft and compress to absorb shock from your movements.  

You need to ensure that your shoes are adjustable. As we talked about earlier your feet can grow as you get older by being able to adjust your shoes you improve their shelf life.

How to Make Your Shoes Last Longer

Since you know when to replace shoes how about we move on to how to make them last longer. The first step may be to invest in a good pair of shoes. Buying items like leather and 

Unfortunately, some shoes aren't salvageable and this makes us ask the question can shoes be recycled? There are a number of organizations that allow you to improve the environment and your feet at the same time.

For example one of the cheapest and easiest ways to recycle old shoes is to textile recycling. These are usually in the form of drop off locations that provide bins for you to put your old to recycle old clothes or shoes.

Another great option to give your shoes a second life is to donate it to Nike's Reuse a Shoe project. These are used to make Nike Grind which is Nike gear made from every part of old running shoes.

Protect Your Feet No Matter What Shoes You Wear

How Long Should Shoes Last? Now you know that the answer depends on the material and type of shoe. But there's more to happy feet than just knowing the right time to toss out your old sneakers. If you're looking to keep your feet happy and insure perfect foot health then contact us today.

Author
Dr. Petkov Dr. Velimir Petkov, is a trusted podiatrist practicing at Premier Podiatry in Clifton, NJ. He has over 10 years of experience treating residents of NYC and North NJ for a wide variety of foot and ankle conditions. He prides himself on practicing podiatry with a personalized approach. Patients of Dr. Petkov appreciate his willingness to spend time with them during appointments, educate them about their foot conditions, and provide customized treatment options.

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