Stop what you’re doing and look down at your sneakers. How long have you owned them? How many days per week do you wear them? Do you notice any signs of wear and tear: diminished traction, weathered soles, visible holes? Chances are, your beloved tennies are past due for an upgrade.
Many times in my career as a personal trainer I have looked at a new client’s shoes with dismay. Usually I’ll gently ask them how long they’ve had their shoes and what they do while wearing them. Sheepish replies vary, but most often point to the same conclusion.
If you are going to make a physical and financial commitment to getting fit, you need to have the appropriate footwear in order to safely achieve your goals. Twisted ankles and tweaked knees do not lend to healthy movement in the longterm.
Most experts have clung to the hard and fast rule of changing out your athletic shoes every 500 miles. That’s like saying every car needs new tires every 50,000 miles. For every case there are delineating factors involved: do you drive on city streets alone? Head to the mountains on the weekends? How many potholes do you encounter on your daily commute? Are you diligent in scheduling regular maintenance rotations? Is the alignment on your vehicle sound?
Similar considerations are necessary when rotating or replacing your sneakers.
To better understand when it’s time to retire your kicks, let’s break it down by activity.
Runners You know who you are: you’re the die-hard out there in mid-February before the sun comes up. Nothing in life comes between you and your daily endorphin fix. Marty Lavine M.S., P.T. and owner of Denver’s Push Gym weighs in, “The general word [for runners] is about 250 miles, though that was with the older model shoes. Now with the minimalist shoes, I don’t think they last that long. In my experience, they [minimalist shoes] will break down much sooner, but some runners run harder on them than others.”
Gym Rat You are a regular in weekly bootcamp and spin classes and we tend to see you hang out a little longer afterward to squeeze in a few freeweight supersets. “Gym shoes can last a long time,” says Lavine, “these should be done more by feel –when they start to feel broken down.”
My first inclination is when a client tells me they are experiencing acute foot/ankle/knee/hip pain and cannot pinpoint a cause. If their shoes are no longer supporting them where they need it, it’s time for a new pair.
Cardio Junkies The reliable machine enthusiasts — your circuits generally consist of 15 minutes on the elliptical, 15 minutes on the rower and 15 minutes on the treadmill. Repeat. For you folks, Lavine advises, “Just like the runners, their new shoes will break down faster; however may not take the same pounding as if running outside. Especially on a bike or elliptical, these shoes will last longer.”
5K-er Usually part of a team from work, you guys train (I hope) for a few weeks to better last year’s time. If you just like to walk for the camaraderie and good cause, “walking shoes usually last a while; they are made to easily last 250 miles,” says Lavine.
If this all sounds a little overwhelming, there are local experts available to help you find just the right fit. Be sure to get measured, explain what you’ll need them for and prepare to pony up for the best possible shoes for your feet. They are your feet, after all. Give them some love and they will give you a lifetime of good health.
Jodilyn Stuart is the Health & Sports Senior Staff Writer for 303 Magazine, owner of ModaBody Fitness, and has been a professional fitness geek since 1997. If you have questions, feel free to email at: [email protected]