How Often Do You Need New Running Shoes – Twenty years ago, in 1994, when I was studying to become an athletic trainer, the magic number for changing running shoes was 300-500 miles. Four years later in medical school, the information we were taught again was that if runners had any kind of injury or problem, one of the first places to look was how many miles they had on their shoes. Anything between 300-500 miles was considered old and needed to be replaced. Fast forward to 2014 and what we find is that nothing has changed in terms of how many miles you should accumulate on your shoes before throwing them away. It has maintained 300-500 miles. How can this be? With all the advancements in running shoes and technology how is it possible that we can’t find a shoe that will last more than 300-500 miles. As crazy as this may sound, this is territory that no one has revisited since 1985 when the paper wrote how many miles a running shoe can cover before it breaks down.

The change in shock absorption properties of running shoes was evaluated as a function of running. Different types of running shoes covering a wide range of retail prices were obtained and mechanically tested to simulate repeated heel strikes of running. The energy absorbed by the shoes was determined from the area under the load-deformation curve equivalent to 0, 5, 10, 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, 200, 250, 300, and 500 miles of running. Shoes were also tested at similar intervals after being worn by volunteers during normal training. Approximately 33% difference in initial shock absorption was observed in different shoe models. In general, the shoes retained approximately 75% of their original shock absorption after 50 miles of simulated running and approximately 67% after 100 to 150 miles. Between 250 and 500 miles, the shoes retained less than 60% of their original shock absorbing capacity. No difference in shock absorption was apparent based on either shoe price or manufacturer model. The results of the shoes tested by the volunteer runners also showed a significant decrease in shock absorption with mileage. However, the loss was not as great as in the engine simulation run, where approximately 70% of the original shock absorption was retained at 500 miles.

How Often Do You Need New Running Shoes

How Often Do You Need New Running Shoes

Obviously, engineering and materials have improved over the past twenty years, so why hasn’t the lifespan of a shoe increased? Some say they have, but manufacturers refuse to release the data on the absorption and breakdown process because customers would ask for refunds and claim their shoes “failed” too soon.

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I know what you’re thinking. How could this possibly be true? Check out the quote below taken from Runner’s World just a few weeks ago-

Worn out shoes are one of the main causes of injury; you should replace yours every 300 to 500 miles. Shop at a specialty store where you can get expert guidance on finding the pair that offers the fit and support your feet need.

Change shoes every 300 miles?? Consider that the average person training for a marathon will average 40 miles per week for 4 months. This is roughly equivalent to 700 miles during the training season. Assuming these runners did 20 miles a week for 6 months would include another 540 or so miles. And yes, I am grossly underestimating. That’s a total of 1240 miles in one year, which equates to 4 pairs of shoes over the year.

With the average price of a running shoe  about $66, this would cost a runner $264 per year. In 2013, looking only at marathon runners, there were 541,000 people who completed a marathon. This is roughly equivalent to $142,824.00 spent on shoes per year just to train and run a marathon in the US if you follow the guidelines published in 1985.  See why no one in the shoe industry is rushing to release any new information about when to throw away your shoes ?

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Surprisingly, recent literature has been published on this topic. In 2009, Kong et al. published this article that looked at how runners change their gait as cushioning is lost in shoes. They concluded,

As shoe cushioning capacity decreases, runners change their patterns to maintain a constant external load. The adaptation mechanisms to shoe degradation were unaffected by different cushioning technologies, suggesting that runners should choose shoes for reasons other than cushioning technology. Kong PW, Candelaria NG, Smith DR. Running in new and worn shoes: a comparison of three types of cushioning footwear. Br J Sports Med. 2009 Oct;43(10):745-9.

So, as you can see, as the cushioning of the shoe decreases (and it has been argued that as cushioning is lost, injuries will result) runners will innately change their strike pattern to maintain a constant external load. Does the powder really matter? And if it does to some extent, does it really need to change after 300 miles if our bodies are adapting?

How Often Do You Need New Running Shoes

Something else to consider since we are talking about cushions. What can we say about the new line of shoes called “maximalist” running shoes? Creatively borrowing the marketing campaign used by Vibram FiveFingers with the “Crazy” slogans, the Hoka One One has become one of the most popular running shoes in specialty running stores.

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You can’t pick up a Runner’s World magazine without seeing one of their “crazy” ads. Why are these shoes becoming more and more popular? Are there any published studies on them? Has research been applied to the design of this shoe to reduce injuries? Not at all. Why then you ask, is it so popular and sales have been seen to skyrocket? Because people like it. The instant gratification factor. As soon as you put them on, you feel the comfort and softness of the shoes that feel good. Does it increase run? Some runners say it does, but it has never been studied. It’s simple supply and demand combined with some marketing that drives these shoes. Joe Runner tries it and likes it. He tells his friend who then tells three other running friends and before you know it they are all in Hokas. Where is the research? It’s all word of mouth.

So, how often should you change your running shoes? It’s probably not much different than the strategy you use for how often you change your everyday shoes. My wife has run a marathon in a pair of ASICS that she had logged well over 1,000 miles in and she has flat feet (this was 3 years ago). She then switched to a pair of New Balance Minimus and ran 3 marathons in the same pair as well as training in them.

Does the knockdown really make a difference when it comes to injuries? If you listen to one study published in 1985.

Dr. Campitelli is an Akron, OH podiatrist specializing in foot and ankle surgery with a passion and enthusiasm for running as well as helping runners with injuries. For the past few years, he has been treating patients’ running injuries by reshaping them and converting them to minimalist shoes. After treating runners with all types of injuries from conservative procedures with orthotics and shoe changes to reconstructive foot and ankle surgery, Dr. Campitelli brings what works best and is most important to his training as well as the Akron and Cleveland running communities. you’re not sure when to change your running shoes, I’ve got you covered. This guide will cover everything you need to know about how long running shoes last and when to get new ones. As a long-time runner and coach, I’ve seen firsthand how running in old, worn-out shoes can lead to running injuries and poor performance. Keeping your running shoes fresh and replacing worn ones will help prevent injury and allow you to run strong for miles.

When To Replace Your Running Shoes ·

Before we get into when to change running shoes, it helps to have a basic understanding of what running shoes are made of and how they differ. Running shoes are designed to support your feet and legs as you run. They are composed of synthetic materials that offer cushioning and support.

Running shoes have different components, including the upper, sole – which includes the midsole and outsole; the tongue, the heel counter and the toe box. The running shoes have breathable knitted polyester or nylon mesh on the upper part, which allows the feet to be ventilated while running.

Running shoe soles are crucial in providing cushioning and shock absorption as you run. The soles are essential to prevent injury. When the soles wear out, it’s important to replace your running shoes so you don’t get injured.

How Often Do You Need New Running Shoes

Figuring out when to replace your running shoes depends on several factors. The lifespan of your shoes is influenced by the following:

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