Is it time to spruce up your home both indoors and out? While you’re tidying up, why not take the time to do a footwear checkup? Over time, the wear and tear on your shoes can wear them out. When that happens, it’s time to replace them. Otherwise, your worn out shoes can lead to foot problems and pain.
Your feet use a combination of muscles, bones, and joints that work together to help you walk, run, or jump. Whereas, your shoes help to provide your feet with support while you’re completing these actions.
Additionally, your shoes protect your feet when you’re walking on rough terrain or on hot or cold surfaces. And they shield your feet from harm, like cuts and bruises, to some extent.
Periodically, you need to do a footwear checkup on all your shoes – especially if you have shoes that you’ve worn for over 8 months to a year. Sometimes, shoes can even wear out after 6 months of use, especially if they’re your favorite, go-to shoes, work boots, or running shoes. It all depends on how much you wear them.
What Are the Effects of Worn Out Shoes?
Worn out shoes can contribute to a variety of foot problems, such as:
- Plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendinitis
- Shin splints
- Twisted ankles
- Knee pain
- Back pain
If you have any existing foot conditions or pain, your worn footwear can actually make these conditions worse.
Therefore, you should complete a shoe quality inspection every so often to ensure your shoes are still functional and in good condition.
Signs of Worn Shoes
Most people realize their shoes are worn when they get a hole in them. But not all signs of shoe wear are glaringly obvious! Just because your dress shoes, casual shoes, and/or athletic shoes may still look good, their condition can deceive you. Shoes can lose their functionality long before they lose their looks.
Therefore, the WalkEZStore wants to provide you with a few insider tips to help you determine when it’s time to replace your worn footwear.
How Long Have You Had Your Shoes?
Length of wear is the easiest way to determine if your shoes are worn out. After a year of use, you should look at your casual and dress shoes, especially if you wear them 3 to 4 times a week. You’ll likely notice signs of wear and will need to replace them.
As for athletic shoes, your workouts put more stress on them. You may need to replace them around 300-500 miles or after 6 months of use. However, some athletic shoes may last longer while others may wear down sooner. It sometimes depends upon the brand and quality of the shoe.
Examine Your Shoes
As we said above, you should examine your shoes at least every 6 months to a year to determine if they need replacing. Inspect the following parts of your shoes for signs of wear.
Look at the bottom of your shoes. Generally, normal wear occurs evenly across the ball of the foot and along the outside back of the heel. If you notice flat spots or excessive wear in any other areas, you need to replace your shoes.
When examining your leather shoes or boots, place your thumb in the center of the sole at the ball of the foot. If the leather feels soft instead of firm, you should get rid of your shoes. Also check to ensure the sole isn’t coming away from the bottom of the shoe.
Typically, for high heels, the soles are usually thinner to begin with. So high heels wear down faster than flatter shoes. Check the sole at the ball of the foot near the big toe. Since this area bears most of your weight, it will show signs of wear quicker. If you see thin spots, holes, or nails showing through, you should throw out your high heels.
When checking your work or athletic shoes that have treads, inspect the treads to see if they’re worn down. The treads on your shoes are like the tires on your car. If they’re worn, you won’t have the grip you need when walking in them. You may even develop slick spots if the treads are completely smooth.
Check the shoe lining inside the shoe. The purpose of the lining is to cover the inside seams of the shoe while providing cushioning and comfort for the foot. The lining also helps to wick away moisture.
The shoe lining can be made of a variety of materials, such as leather, fabric, or synthetic materials. Over time, it can show signs of wear, which lessens its efficiency and ability to absorb impact forces. Things to look for include:
- Worn down cushioning – flatter appearance, visible wrinkles or tears.
- Broken down arch support.
- Significant creaking when walking.
- Rough seams.
- Inside shoe pieces poking through the lining.
If you notice any of these signs, you should replace your shoes. Otherwise, your shoes won’t be as comfortable and may cause you pain.
The heel counter is the little plastic insert used to reinforce the back of the shoe where it wraps around your heel. A firm, thick heel counter will cradle your heel while stabilizing your foot in the shoe. A firm heel counter will prevent excessive movement of your foot.
If the heel counter looks a bit crushed or it no longer feels firm, it has lost its effectiveness. You may also notice your heel sliding around in your shoe more than normal. Excessive heel counter wear means you’re not getting the support you need from your shoes. Therefore, they need to be replaced.
Outer Upper and Sides of the Shoe
Inspect the outer sides and the upper part of each shoe. Look for the following signs of wear:
- Holes in the shoes between the sole and side of the shoe, especially those that cause water to get into your shoes.
- Tears over the toes.
- Cracks in leather shoes due to hardening.
- Loose stitches.
- Indentations and other damage to the toe box.
- Stretched, frayed, or broken straps on dress shoes, sandals, or flip-flops.
- Misshapen shoes, such as collapsed or overstretched sides, that no longer provide adequate support for your feet.
If you see any of these indicators of wear, it’s time to replace your shoes.
Heels and Back Profile
Place your shoes on a flat surface at eye level. Shoes that are in good condition should sit tall and straight. Often worn out shoes will lean more to one side or the other. They may even tilt at a sharp angle. Additionally, worn out shoes may tip or rock when sitting on a hard surface. Shoes that are slanted can cause stability issues when walking. Therefore, they need to be replaced.
Furthermore, inspect the heels. The heels on damaged shoes may be loose, scuffed, or have indentations in them. The heel plate also may be worn down to the point that it reveals the underlying nails. Or, the plate or whole heel may have fallen off the shoe completely. If you notice any of these signs, you should toss them in the trash.
Why You Shouldn’t Continue to Wear Worn Out Shoes
Your shoes can affect your body’s bio-mechanics when standing and walking. A pair of shoes in excellent to good condition should support your feet and help bear the impact forces placed on your feet when standing or moving.
However, if your shoes are worn out, they can throw off your stability and alter the way you walk. Also damaged shoes can throw your whole body out of alignment. If you begin to notice new aches and pains in your feet or the joints in your knees, hips, or back, your shoes may be to blame. These signs mean your shoes need to be replaced.
With this information, now you know what signs to look for when completing a footwear inspection. Therefore, you can keep your feet healthy and comfortable in shoes that are still in their prime and functioning correctly.
Restore Your Gait with the Right Shoes and Custom Orthotics
If you need help finding replacements for your shoes, a certified pedorthist like Kathy Carandang, founder of the WalkEZStore, can help you. Kathy is skilled in determining how your gait and shoes affect your body. She can help you find solutions to address common foot conditions like overpronation, plantar fasciitis, and metatarsalgia.
Additionally, she may recommend you wear custom foot orthotics, like ezWalker® Custom Fit Orthotics, to correct any issues. Our custom orthotics are designed to support your arches and restore proper foot function and stability. Also, they help to correct any abnormal or irregular walking pattern you may have. Therefore, ezWalker® Custom Orthotics can help relieve any foot or joint pain you may be experiencing.
To schedule an appointment with Kathy Carandang to evaluate your gait, uncover the causes of your pain, and to learn more about the right types of shoes for your feet, click here. You can even bring in your current shoes and Kathy will check them out to make sure they’re still in good shape.
If you’re not in the Indianapolis area, you can also order ezWalker® Custom Fit Orthotics from our online shop. Our foot mold kit comes with detailed instructions for creating your foot molds to make your customized orthotics.
Take care of your feet by wearing shoes that are functioning at their best. Because … when your feet feel good, you feel good.®
Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Cover Photo: 123RF / pandavector (modified)