INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — If you’re feeling aches and pains when you exercise, the problem might be in your running shoes.
“Once you start seeing significant wear on the outside of your shoe, the inside of the shoe may have been shot for quite a while,” says Jason Jones, store manager for Runners Forum in downtown Indianapolis. “Shot cushion, shot support – injury is the worst thing that can happen probably.”
The unwritten rule often employed by experienced runners states you should replace running shoes every 300 to 500 miles, which as Dr. Joel Kary – a sports physician at St. Vincent Sports Performance and team physician for USA Track & Field – points out, that’s a vast mile range with little to no scientific support.
“If you go and you look at the research and the evidence to try to find support saying you should change your shoes often, there’s never been any evidence to back that up,” says Kary.
Kary explains that how quickly a shoe wears is highly individualized. For example, a 200-pound man who lands hard on his heels will cause significantly more wear on a shoe than a 120-pound elite female runner who lands mid-foot. A heavier person may need to change shoes more frequently because of the extra pressure placed on the shoe during each strike.
“It’s so individualized,” says Kary. “But if you think you’re feeling pain from worn-out shoes, buy a new pair and run with those for a day or two. Then, put the old pair back on for a comparison. If you find that you feel a lot better in the new pair, then better cushioning is going to fix the issue.”
The soft cushioning in a shoe breaks down over time and is no longer able to protect your feet and legs. Repeated impact in worn-out shoes can lead to injury.
“Most people think running has to hurt – but running doesn’t have to hurt,” says Jones. “There should be no pain in your foot, in your legs, or anything like that.”
Apps to track miles on shoes
There are multiple ways to track mileage on your shoes. You could keep a written training log of your miles, or if you are consistent with your mileage each week, simply write the date of purchase on the inside of your shoes and keep track of the target date for replacement.
For a more exact calculation, multiple apps like Shoe Tracker and Shoecycle allow you to track the mileage you put on your shoes. The app Shoedometer lets you track total miles in multiple pairs of shoes and set warnings for shoe replacements.
Is the pain from worn out shoes or a nagging injury?
Kary suggests a simple rule of thumb for determining if you have soreness from lost cushioning on shoes or the beginning stages of an injury.
“If you feel pain during a workout and it goes away after the workout, you’re probably OK. But if you feel pain and that lingers post-workout and even into the next day then maybe you should see someone about it,” says Kary.