Most people wish their products could last forever, especially if it’s a product they love. Unfortunately shoes are consumables with a set lifespan. For some people this lifespan is years and for others only months. Shoes are like tires; both have many factors that contribute to their wear and tear such as the original quality, the terrain, alignment, the length of each use and total hours used. Depending on these factors the lifetime of your footwear may be shorter than expected. With so many factors affecting the wear of shoes it can be tricky to know when their life is up. This week we’ll go through what to look for so you know when it’s time to say “goodbye” to your shoes.
At first glance a shoe can be deceiving. As a whole it may look as good as new. However, the true test comes down to the individual components. The most obvious part to look at is the upper. If you want to read more about the upper, check out this previous blog post. For the upper you want to see if it is compressed, ripped, or creased to the point of no return. In some situations the upper can be fixed. At Shoe Solutions we do offer shoe repair. If a seam has split or the leather is cracking and just needs refurbishing, those can be quick and cost effective fixes. Check with our team to see if we can repair the upper before you throw the shoes away.
The most crucial component of knowing when to replace shoes is the midsole. If you need a reminder of the importance of the midsole, check out my earlier blog post here. First off, for shoes you’ll be wearing for longer durations, make sure they have a midsole! Then every few months look at the midsole for stress lines along the side, especially for deep fissures on one side over the other. Then do a couple more tests. Look to see if the material is compressed. Then twist the shoe (like you are wringing out a towel) to check if there is still resistance. Lastly, flex the shoe in the middle. Stress lines, a lack of resistance and the ability to fold your shoe in half are all signs that the midsole isn’t supporting your foot anymore. Depending on the condition of your feet and how long you need to wear the shoe for, even one of these signs being present means it’s time to start looking for a new pair and retire the old ones to the garden.
Another component to look at is the outsole. The wear of the outsole is much easier to read than the midsole. If the tread is worn down you will visibly be able to see wear patterns on the bottom of the shoe. Although most of the outsole may be fine, high friction points can cause the shoe to wear down. Make note of the most worn parts on your shoes and monitor them throughout the lifespan of the shoe. This tells you (and us) about your walk pattern, potential issues that may arise and solutions we could try. One thing to note is if the midsole still looks good, some shoes can be resoled. Book a shoe labs appointment here to discuss options for extending the life of your shoes.
The last but certainly not least consideration is to check-in with your feet. If your shoes were helping ease pain or increase your performance but they no longer do, it’s time for a new pair! When a shoe is worn down you may begin experiencing achy feet, new pains in your feet, knees or hips, or difficulty completing physical activities that you’d previously done pain-free. Listening to your body and being aware of your foot health is the best way to tell if your footwear is working for you, or worn out!
There is no set number of days, months or years for each shoe’s lifespan because each person is so different. However, there are things to look out for so you know when it's time to replace your shoes. Keep checking your shoes for signs of wear and checking in with your feet. If you have any questions, connect with us!