Your Gym Shoes Are Probably Past Their Prime

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They still look fine, and with what a gym membership costs, who wants to drop more dollars on shoes? Surely you can get another few months out of your sneakers. And a few more. And so on, until you have an achy ankle that just won’t heal.

Traditional wisdom is to log the miles you put on your running shoes or to replace your gym shoes every six months. But does anyone really keep track? And, depending on how and how often you use them, your shoes may last more or less than six months. Even tracking miles is subject to variations in where you’re running, how your foot strikes the ground, and how much you weigh.

No biggie. Some signs let you know your shoes have outlasted their usefulness.

Take a close look at your shoes, and your feet

  • Got bounce? Cushioning wears out fast, and without it you’re missing out on a lot of the benefits of being a human in the 21st century. Shoe technology puts the spring in your step and protects your joints. Press your thumb into your midsole; if it doesn’t feel light and springy, it’s worn out. You might also try on a new pair. If they feel noticeably bouncier, you have good reason to buy ’em. 
  • Tread worn? Worn-down tread doesn’t just mean you aren’t getting the traction you want but that probably a lot of other components of your shoes have been overtaxed, as well. Uneven or otherwise suboptimal tread also changes the way you walk or run, and that can lead to injuries.
  • Heel feeling tip-top? An important function of your gym shoes is holding your heel in place. Extra movement within your shoe just means extra chance that your foot will hit the ground weird and you’ll hurt yourself, or cause a ruckus in the free-weight section. Just grab the back of your shoe, midway up from the sole, and squeeze. If the heel is easy to bend, it’s not holding your foot stable like it should.
  • Feet happy? If you’ve really waited too long, your feet are going to rebel, and they may recruit other body parts into their dissension. Blisters and irritating rubbing are early indicators that it’s time to upgrade. If you’re noticing new irritations after you work out—from sore arches to achy hips and a lot of things in between—your shoes are the easiest, least expensive explanation.

Err on the side of new kicks

Of all the ways to hurt yourself during a workout, wouldn’t you just kick yourself (ahem) if you owed an injury to putting off a shoe purchase? Splurge on shoes now so you don’t end up spending your hard-earned cash on a splint—or worse.  Occasional exerciser? We’re talking to you, too. Shoe materials break down even if they spend more time sitting in your gym bag than on the tennis court or elliptical trainer. If you know you’ve had your shoes for a year, invest in a new pair. And then use the heck out of them in honor of your smart thinking.