It’s always challenging to part ways with a prized pair of sneakers, even if they’re degraded to the point of being unwearable.
However, getting rid of old shoes is necessary if you want to maintain optimal foot health. Worn-out shoes can cause:
- Plantar fasciitis
- Back pain
- Friction burns
- Stress fractures
- Shin splints
If you had no idea shoes past their expiration date could cause such issues, you’re not alone.
Too few people are aware of the adverse effects worn-out sneakers can have on your feet, body, and running performance.
How long do shoes last?
For the average person, tennis shoes will last around 8 – 12 months, or around 200 – 400 running/walking miles. Of course, other factors affect the lifespan of shoes, such as the quality of the shoe materials and the quality of maintenance you put into them.
Stick around to learn the key signs that it’s time to replace your shoes and ways you can lengthen their lifespan.
Which Section Do You Want To Read First?
- How Long Should Everyday Shoes Last?
- 5 Factors That Shorten or Lengthen Shoe Lifespan
- 7 Signs That It’s Time to Throw Your Walking Shoes Away
- How to Make Shoes Last Longer?
How Long Should Everyday Shoes Last?
Ideally, a quality pair of shoes should last you at least a year or even longer if you properly maintain them & follow best practices.
Two other factors that determine shoe lifespan are:
- how often you run
- how hard you are on your feet.
If you jog six times a week and really give it your all, your shoes will wear out much faster than if you casually ran two times a week.
It’s important to note that every pair of shoes is different, so you shouldn’t assume that every shoe will last up to 12 months.
That’s why you should regularly inspect your casual shoes for telltale wear and tear. That’s the best way to avoid harming your feet by running or walking in worn-out/structurally compromised shoes.
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5 Factors That Shorten or Lengthen Shoe Lifespan
Now that you know how long a pair of shoes should last on average, it’s time to learn which factors will affect their lifespan the most. Each factor on this list can either help or hinder your shoe’s lifespan, depending on how you approach them.
1. The Types of Surfaces You Run/Walk On
When you go out for your morning run, are you jogging on a paved trail, or do you rough it off-road? If the answer is the latter, you aren’t doing your athletic shoes any favors.
That’s because running on unpaved trails will wear out your shoes a lot faster than if you stuck to paved ones.
The bare ground is uneven and has lots of dips, hills, and divots, which aren’t good for your feet and wear away at the soles of your shoes. In particular, the ground is hard on your shoe’s outsoles. Running shoes often have intricate outsole patterns that provide proper support for jogging.
Once these patterns wear down, it becomes harder to stabilize yourself while running. That not only increases your chances of injury and foot pain – but it will also negatively affect your running performance.
So if you want to extend the lifespan of your shoes, stick to treadmills, sidewalks, and paved trails.
2. Your Running or Walking Style/Intensity
Not all people go at the same pace, nor do they use the same technique. The more intense you are with your foot strokes, the quicker you’ll wear out your shoes.
Casual runners/walkers tend to have a less intense stride, but they practice poor technique. Sprinters know to go for a forefoot strike – which means the soles only make contact with the ground for a short period of time. Yet, sprinters also tend to have a more intense stride.
So the best way to extend the lifespan of your shoes is to run or walk with a relaxed stride while sprinting with a forefoot strike.
A low-intensity stride will help maintain your shoes’ structural integrity, while the forefoot strike will preserve the outsoles for longer.
3. Your Personal Build
If you’re taller/heavier, you’ll typically wear out your shoes faster than someone smaller and thinner. It all depends on the force you exert on your shoes when you walk or run.
The more you weigh, the more pressure gets applied to your shoes – weakening them and shortening their lifespan.
In fact, the amount of pressure transferred into your shoes is equal to 3 to 4 times your body weight. So if you’re 6’2 and weigh 200 lbs, you’re exerting up to 800 lbs of pressure with each step.
4. Your Maintenance Routine: Cleaning Shoes, Replacing Laces?
Do you ever clean your shoes or change shoelaces? If not, your shoes won’t last near as long as they could. Proper maintenance goes a long way toward preserving the look and feel of shoes and their structural integrity.
Also, waterproofing spray is a must if your shoes get wet regularly or you expect them to get wet.
That’s because excessive moisture presents dangers to your shoes and your feet. If you stay in wet shoes all day, you risk developing athlete’s foot (also called trench foot), a fungal condition that’s painful and can lead to a more serious infection.
Water will also wreak havoc on the integrity of your shoes. That’s why you want to do your best to keep your shoes dry or use a waterproof spray.
Cleaning your shoes on a regular basis will also help maintain their look and integrity.
5. Proper Storage
How you store your shoes also makes a huge difference in their overall lifespan. The last thing you want to do is store your shoes outside or in your garage, as the harsh environmental conditions will wear down your shoes.
It’s also not a good idea to keep them loose around the house. Not only is this bad for your shoes, but it’s also a notorious trip hazard.
Instead, you should store your shoes in a protective box or bag in a closet. However, you should never store your shoes if they’re wet. Let them dry out for a day first, and then return them to storage.
Proper storage habits will help you extend the life of your shoes, so don’t forget to put them up at the end of the day.
7 Signs That It’s Time to Throw Your Walking Shoes Away
While a high-quality pair of shoes should last at least 12 months, it’s best not to rely on this fact. As they say, your mileage can vary.
Instead, you should keep your eye open for a few key signs that will let you know that your shoes have run their course.
What do you need to look out for?
We’ve prepared a list of the top 7 signs that your footwear needs to retire to the giant shoe store in the sky.
1. A Noticeable Lack of Support (Flatness)
Every pair of shoes needs adequate cushioning to support your feet. In the anatomy of a shoe, the midsole is what provides a majority of this cushioning.
As they age, your shoe’s midsole will naturally wear down. Once it becomes flat, they no longer support your feet, and you need to change your shoes.
You can tell when this happens because your shoes will feel mainly flat. If you feel like you’re standing on bare ground without any support between your foot and the surface, your midsoles have completely worn away.
To check your midsoles, turn your shoes over and press in on the middle. Does it feel squishy or tough? If it’s the latter, it’s time to pay a visit to the shoe store.
2. Uncommon Aches & Pains
Have you started to notice new pains popping up whenever you go for a jog or walk? That’s a sign that your shoes are worn-out and need replacing – especially when they’re pains that you don’t normally experience.
Pain from worn-out shoes can manifest itself in a few different areas, too, not just your feet. You should take note if you begin to experience uncommon pains in your:
- Heel pain
- Lower and upper back
As you can see, older shoes can cause pain all throughout your body – which is why replacing them is essential for your health.
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3. Shoe Creasing
Who among us doesn’t have an old pair of shoes with excessive creases around the toes? Yet, the best course of action is to throw these shoes out, especially for the sake of your feet.
Creasing is a sign that the structure of your shoes is giving way, which can cause your feet to slide around inside. That can cause friction burns, blisters, and other foot issues that you don’t want.
So if your shoes have pronounced creases that cause them to warp out of shape, you need to get rid of them.
4. You Aren’t Running the Same
Are you noticing that it’s harder to hit your usual mile times or you can’t walk as far as you used to? Well, it’s highly likely that the issue is with your older shoes.
In particular, your outsoles are probably worn out, which makes it harder to stabilize yourself. Try running in a new pair of shoes and see if your times improve.
5. Excessive Wear & Tear
Sure, keeping the same pair of sneakers for 11 years may save you some money, but at what cost? If you can see through to your socks while you’re wearing your shoes, it’s time to let go.
Check your outsoles, midsoles, and laces for holes, worn-down material, and discoloration.
If you feel your toes slipping around, that’s a sign that your toe box has torn apart.
As a rule of thumb, it’s time to invest in a replacement pair whenever wear and tear become visible.
6. Midsole Compression
As stated before, the midsole is responsible for your shoe’s cushioning and heel support. It also absorbs the shock during your activities.
There are two ways you can tell if you have worn-out midsoles.
- If they feel flat and rigid, that’s a sign the midsoles are next to nonexistent.
- Another way you can tell is if you look at the bottom of your shoe. Do you notice creases around the sides and heel? That’s a side effect of your heavily compressed midsoles, which means it’s time to get rid of the shoes.
7. Check the Rigidity
Each pair of shoes has torsional rigidity, meaning that while they’re flexible, they are sturdy and will only flex with the motion of your foot, not against it.
Try twisting and bending them with your hands to check if your shoes still have torsional rigidity. If they twist every which way, there’s no rigidity left. They’re good to go if there’s still a bit of firmness to them.
How to Make Shoes Last Longer?
How long do shoes last?
By now, you probably have a better understanding of how long shoes typically last and which factors cause them to wear out quicker. You also know which signs to look for to tell you that you need to replace your shoes.
To learn more, check out our article on how to make shoes last longer.
Also, don’t forget to lace your shoes with our LoopKing laces, as they’ll extend the life of your shoes.
That’s because we use premium leather, rope, and other quality materials to make our laces, making them last 3x longer than other brands. They’ll keep your shoes looking brand-new, so don’t wait to order a pair today.