Knowing When to Replace Your Shoes or Give Them Up
Do you have some shoes they stopped making that are still in good shape? We collect slightly/gently used shoes and take them to the shelter!
And if you happen to have any spare or gently used athletic shoes, we also collect and donate them to the Indy Police Athletic League (PAL).
Have shoes to donate? Find directions to our office on this page!
What constitutes “gently used”? Well, that’s a good question. The (possibly frustrating) answer is that it really depends.
Something you might want to keep in mind when it comes to running shoes specifically is this:
The EVA cushioning used in many kinds of running shoes typically has a lifespan of around 300-500 miles.
Even if the exterior condition of your shoes is still pretty decent, you still should use mileage as a guideline for knowing when to pick up a new pair. (See folks, inner beauty is what’s important!)
When More Cushioning Isn’t All That
So the bells and whistles aren’t particularly important, which probably makes a lot of sense.
Here’s something a bit more surprising:
Softer shoes generally only make biomechanical problems worse.
Sure, it’s reasonable for most people to think you want to have a lot of cushioning in your running shoes, but consider a car that has very soft shocks—it’s going to bottom out when you’re driving!
If you have plantar fasciitis, you want the sharp, intense pain to go away, so you might think you’d find relief with extra cushioning underneath the heel. Walking on something softer, like a pillow—which obviously offers a tremendous amount of cushioning—will make the situation worse.
Plantar fasciitis is the leading cause of heel pain for adults!
And the arch-supporting part of the shoe doesn’t actually do much either. Now, some people think they do for an understandable reason:
Our natural foot arches play a role in—and are affected by—pronation. If you are unfamiliar with this particular term, it refers to a completely normal biomechanical process wherein our feet typically rolls inwards (approximately 4 degrees) during the ground contact portion of each step.
When humans have a good arch structure, there isn’t need for additional support. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people do not have a good arch.
Okay, So What Does Matter for Footwear?
There is a strong correlation between excessive pronation— which tends to be common for those who have low arches—and heel pain, so why wouldn’t the bulky arch part of the shoe be the most important?
Well, this comes down to the fact that the arch is soft muscle. Pushing up on a muscle is like pushing on a marshmallow; it squishes but doesn’t move anything. The heel counter plays a much bigger role in foot motion.
Basically, when you control the heel from tilting, you can control where the foot goes—and the heel counter is the keystone in this process. The heel counter should keep the heel from tilting and keep every step 2-4x the body weight from side to side.
Okay, so how do you know if a heel counter is any good?
Same way you know if a package of toilet paper is—you squeeze it! Remember Mr. Whipple…you want the opposite.
You’re looking for a solid component that will not move. If there’s any “give,” find another pair. (This helps highlight the point that it’s better to buy shoes at “brick and mortar” stores, where you can play Mr. Whipple, instead of online.)
If Not Shoes, Then What Helps?
Now, if your feet function normally—no over- or under-pronation—you A) are in the minority and B) can wear pretty much whatever you want.
The fact is that most people do have biomechanical issues (of varying degrees).
The good news here is that we can address those biomechanical issues!
If you’re a patient or an avid reader of our blog and website, you know that we have two general ways of doing that: by using either internal correction or external prevention.
Internal correction is pretty straightforward. In this instance, we’re talking about surgery – changing the bone and soft tissue.
Fortunately, this is typically quite rare and, in those cases when it’s the recommended option, we have an outstanding track record of performing effective procedures.
Of course, the preferred option for everyone involved is to treat the issue through conservative methods.
Two nonsurgical treatments that tend to be rather effective include stretching and orthotic therapy.
Because humans wear shoes, our calf muscle/Achilles tendon complex can become shortened (in comparison to what it should be). Accordingly, the best practice is to stretch regularly to keep the tissues limber ESPECIALLY if you wear high heels on a frequent basis.
Orthotics are an outstanding choice when it comes to conservative treatment for heel pain.
Learn more about orthotics here!
Now That You Know There’s Help, Have Us Eliminate Your Heel Pain!
Stretches, shoes, and custom orthotics are great for treating many cases of heel pain—but it’s best to think of these as components of an effective treatment plan, and not the entire story.
Given that our feet (and gait patterns) are all unique, we customize every treatment plan to identify solutions that will actually work for you—not just what works for your neighbor!
For more information, or to request an appointment, give us a call at (317) 545-0505. Our team will be more than happy to answer your questions or assist you in setting up an office visit!