Know When to Retire your Athletic Shoes

We know how it is. You get attached to your running, walking or cross-training shoes when they work for you — and replacing them isn’t exactly cheap.

But shoes can only withstand so much use before the features that protect you from injury start to break down, and the more active you are the sooner it happens.

If you don’t replace them in a timely manner they can hurt you much more than they help you.

There are several indicators you can look for to know when it’s time to start shopping:

  • Mileage — If you’ve put anywhere from 300 to 500 miles on them you should start checking for the signs of wear and tear outlined below, and once you’re approaching 450 to 500 miles it’s probably time to let them go.

You can use a tracking app to gauge how far you’ve gone. Otherwise, note the date you purchased them because it takes about four to six months for most to reach that milestone.

Cross-trainers are harder to predict because they’re used for varied movements, but Nike advises replacing them after 80 to 100 workout hours, approximately six months of regular use.

  • Outsole — This includes the tread found on any athletic shoe. It could be worn down and often you see uneven wear due to such things as your stride and how you land. If any part of it is close to wearing through you need to replace it before you start to rack up overuse injuries.
  • Midsole — The cushioning foam just above the tread is critical for protecting your joints and has a shelf life that includes some loss even if it’s not being used. When you press on the midsole you should be able to feel it compress. If there’s little to no give it’s time to ditch them.
  • Heel counter — Another warning sign is when the rear part of the shoe that supports your heel and ankles breaks down and caves in when you pinch the sides of the back of the shoe.
  • Pain — If exercising hurts and you’re not quite sure why, scrutinize your shoes.