With winter well and truly setting in, now is a great time to set some fitness goals, and ensure we keep active, healthy and happy throughout the cooler months. This makes it the perfect time to check out our footwear and make sure they are still giving our feet the support and comfort they deserve.
Typical lifespan of a shoe
The average life span of a runner is 800-1000kms, meaning most people typically get 5-6 months out of their shoes. When our shoes start to wear and compress we are at greater risk of injuries as the shoes are no longer providing adequate support or shock absorption.
It is not uncommon for peoples shoes to wear out in certain places. Listed below are just a few of the most common places people tend to get shoe wear and tear, why this happens and some tips for prevention.
What do wear patterns mean?
Wearing at the back of the heel
- Can be an indication that your heel is moving in the shoe as you walk or run
- A simple way to help prevent this can be the lock lacing technique
- This technique helps to hold your ankle into the shoe and prevent excessive movement and subsequent wear and tear
- Wearing at the back of your heel can also be a sign of reduced ankle joint range of motion (stiff ankles or tight calves)
- If ankle range of motion is reduced it can cause our heel to lift early, causing increased friction and uneven wear patterns
- Tight calves, previous injury and poor footwear are just some of the causes of reduced ankle joint range of motion
- Addressing these factors can help with wear patterns at the back of the heel
Wearing at the inner aspect of the shoe
- This is most commonly caused by a biomechanical pattern termed ‘medial heel whip’
- Essentially it means that as the back foot swings through, the heel rotates and hits the inner aspect of the opposite shoe
- This is most commonly caused by running technique, gait patterns and ‘lazy glutes’
- If you are a runner or walker and are typically seeing this wear pattern, a gait or running analysis can be useful to assess any areas to work on, and develop a strength program targeted at this
Wearing at the upper of the shoe (above the big toe)
- Shoe fit can contribute to this as well as muscle imbalances
- Shoes need to possess adequate width and depth, and a shoe such as a trail or cross training shoe with extra reinforcement on the upper can be a good option
- Rocker sole shoes such as Hokas can also be beneficial in conditions such as osteoarthritis that may affect the big toe
- Muscle imbalances can cause the big toe to prop up and rub on the upper of the shoe and some simple exercises to strengthen the muscles on the bottom of the foot, and release the muscles through the top can also help with this.
Wearing at the outer soles (outside or inside of the bottom of the shoe)
- Wear patterns on the outer soles are also are a good way of indicating whether or not your current shoe is the right fit and style
- Excessive wear on either the lateral or medial aspect of the outer sole can indicate that the shoe may not be supportive enough, or over correcting your foot
- In some instances a flexible orthotic device as well as gait retraining may be required to improve foot function, and this paired with a correctly fitted pair of shoes can help reduce abnormal wear patterns through the outer sole
It is always important to make sure you get your shoes properly fitted and assessed when looking for that new pair of runners or every day shoes. We recommend Active Feet in Ocean Grove and Geelong for those local to the area. And as always, a shoe does have a lifespan. General wear and tear is inevitable over time, however if you do notice that your shoes are wearing in unusual areas or over a short period of time it can be beneficial to have both your footwear and gait assessed. This can help to prevent injury in the long term, and ensure you get the most out of your footwear.
If you have any questions about the wear patterns of your shoes, or need help finding the correct shoe for you, please get in touch! We would love to help- you can book in online here!
Sports podiatrist at Pro Feet Podiatry Drysdale