Elisabeth (Lisie) Garza, Personal Trainer
Whether you are a casual walker or an avid runner, taking care of your feet is critical. Not only does a good pair of athletic shoes prevent your feet from hurting, they also help prevent any joint issues or muscle tightness/pains in other parts of your body. Your feet are the beginning of the functional kinetic chain, known as your body. The way you step in your shoes plays a crucial role in joint and muscle stability – all the way up through your spine into your neck and head. If you haven’t bought a new pair of shoes recently, it may be a good time to look at your soles to see if it’s time for a new pair.
From the moment you begin wearing your new shoes, they begin to wear out. The rate at which your shoes start to deteriorate is dependent upon the following: how frequently they are used, the types of activities you are doing and your weight. The typical shoe mileage is about 300-500 miles (60 hours of running is equivalent to roughly 500 miles). The 500-mile rule suggests that you replace your shoes every three to six months. Certified marathon coach and Nordic walking instructor Wendy Bumgardner stated, “While walkers are not pounding their shoes as hard as runners, you are unlikely to still get good support and cushioning past 500 miles. If you are walking 30 minutes a day, or an average of 3 to 4 hours a week, replace your shoes every six months”. If your typical walking habits exceed this, it’s recommended replacing your shoes even sooner. Lastly, your weight is a factor — the more you weigh, the faster your shoes will wear out.
The more miles walked, not only does the cushion inside the shoe begin to dissipate, but the tread on the bottom of the shoe also begins to wear down. Take a minute to look inside your athletic shoes at the cushion and also the bottom of your shoes. Are there certain spots of the cushion that have completely worn through? Is the tread on the bottom beginning to disappear, almost making your shoe feel slippery to the touch on the bottom?
If the cushion and the sole are both worn down, the chances of injury or slipping are increased. Common injuries that occur due to excess wear without replacement are as follows: shin splints, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, and stress fractures. Beyond those common injuries, walking in a worn-out pair of shoes may end up changing your gait (the way you walk), increasing your chances of muscle imbalances, thus leading to a greater chance of injury. A study done in 2014 examined the mechanisms of slipping. This study not only found that there was an increased number of slips with un-treaded shoes, but the speed at which the fall was taken was about 25-fold faster than the subjects whose shoes still had tread on the bottom.
So how can you tell when it’s time for a new pair?
There are a few indicators that can help you determine if it’s time for a new pair. The best way is to examine your shoes and look for signs of excessive wear. Are the heels stretched out? When looking at the insole, can you see how it has completely formed to your foot? Are there places on the bottom of your shoes where the tread has completely worn down? These are all questions you should ask yourself while inspecting your shoes. When you have determined it is time to upgrade your footwear, find a specialized shoe store and have an expert assist you in finding a new pair of shoes that best fit your feet and walking pattern. After all, a new pair of shoes might be the best investment you can make to help prevent future injuries!
To learn more about the NCH Wellness Center, visit nch.org/wellness or call 847-618-3500.