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4 Tips To Make Your Athletic Shoes Last Longer

Tracy Woolrich's picture
Athletic Shoe

Depending upon the tire, the expectation is that you should, with good maintenance and rotation, get 40,000 miles from them. However, what about shoes? Do they have an expiration date? According to podiatrists they do. Read on to see how to get the most from your shoes.

If you are anything like me, it takes what seems like a lifetime to get your shoes comfortable. Once you get them just right, you find you need another pair again. But walking and running shoes really do have a limited lifespan. With each step, you are breaking down the support. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, you should replace walking shoes every 300 to 600 miles, depending upon your walking habits. Good rule of thumb is to replace them every 500 miles or every 6 months whichever comes first. Now this is truly sounding more like an automobile maintenance plan doesn’t it?

The average athletic shoe is manufactured with a 400-500 mile limit.
Even individuals that use their shoes only for walking and not running are unlikely to get the support they need past 500 miles. Here are the factors that affect the length of time your shoes will be adequate.

• Weight – As expected the more you weigh the quicker your shoes will wear out.

• How far you walk - If you are walking 30 minutes a day replace your shoes every six months. If you are walking 60 minutes a day replace your shoes every three months.

• Where you exercise - If you run or walk on rough roads, you'll need to replace your shoes sooner than if you use a treadmill.

Athletic shoes, just like tires are aging before you ever purchase them. They sit in a warehouse somewhere drying out. Shoes are made with components that are glued together. While in storage before they arrive in the stores the glue is already drying out. In addition, the cushioning is slowing disappearing as they sit around easily for a year or more before they are on display. That certainly cuts into the shelf life of your shoes.

There are ways however that will make your shoes last for as long as possible.

Air out your shoes

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Store your athletic shoes where they are exposed to air. Let them dry out between wears. Keeping them in that exclusive gym bag you just bought is not the best place for them to be stored. Yet, first of all, choose your athletic shoes correctly when buying.

If you wash them, don’t put them in the dryer

Do not throw them in the washer as easy as that sounds. If you need to clean them, do so by hand with gentle soap and water. Anything more, can destroy the glue. Always air dry. Avoid the heat of a dryer that will contribute to faster disintegration of the glue. I admit that I have done this and probably should not have. The native bongo sound may be amusing while they are banging around in the dryer; however the amusement is over once you realize you have destroyed the glue.

Replacing the insoles won’t help

Changing the insole is not a substitute for replacing the shoe. Remember that a new insole won't provide the same cushioning and support that a new shoe would. It is like painting your car and expecting it to run better. Once the shoe is broken down, you can't fix it with a new insole.

Rotate Your Shoes

After a month or two, start to alternate a pair of your current shoes with a new pair. This will help to dry them out between uses as well. Take advantage of BOGO sales. Buying two pairs at a time will save you time and money.

Using old worn-out shoes can cause injuries. They will in time lose stability, cushioning and shock absorption. Continuing to use them may increase the stress and impact on your legs, joints and feet. Muscle fatigue in your legs, pain in your feet or knees and shin splints are a sure sign that you may be wearing athletic shoes that no longer have adequate cushioning. In fact, speaking of pain, do you know why women's shoes can cause foot pain?

Take home message

Find a way to keep track of when you purchase shoes. You can mark it on your calendar or exercise log. You can try writing the purchase date on the inside of each shoe's tongue. That way there is no question if you have more than one pair of shoes you are rotating.

Source: American Podiatric Medical Association