How to extend the life of your workout shoes (and when to replace them)
Keep your new shoes in tip-top shape -- and help them last longer.
Mercey LivingstonCNET Contributor
Mercey Livingston is a health and wellness writer and certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She's written about fitness and wellness for Well+Good, Women's Health, Business Insider, and Prevention.com among others. When not writing, she enjoys reading and trying out workout classes all over New York City.
The right shoes are essential no matter what type of workout you do. If you invested in a new pair of sneakers this season and are getting ready to start your new fitness routine, you'll want to keep your shoes looking and feeling great for as long as possible -- especially if you spent $100-plus on your new kicks.
If you're thinking about getting new shoes soon, sometimes it's not obvious when you need to replace your shoes -- especially if you've lost track of how long you've had them. Whether you've already purchased new shoes or you're considering if you need to, we've consulted with two shoe pros and a cleaning pro to get more clarity on what you need to know about taking care of your shoes, and how to know when you need to get new ones.
When it comes to athletic shoes, the life of your shoe will depend on several important factors. For runners it's miles, but for everyone else, you need to evaluate multiple factors, including what you do in the shoes, how often you wear them and where you wear them like outside or indoors.
To start, consider how frequently and how often you wear your exercise shoes. Do you wear them to workout and go grocery shopping? What about your other shoes -- do you have several pairs that you rotate through?
"Someone who runs ten or more miles per day may need to replace their shoes once a month or more, while someone who walks two miles every other day in theirs might only need to replace them once or twice per year," says Gretchen Weimer, Vice President of Product at Hoka One One. "Many running and walking specialty dealers offer a rough guideline of 300-500 miles for a pair of shoes, but that's just a suggestion. Some people will find they can get 1,000 miles out of a pair of shoes, while others might prefer replacing them with 150 or 200 miles."
This is why it can be helpful to instead pay attention to other important clues that your shoes may be wearing out, like those listed below.
How to know it's time to replace your workout shoes
It may seem obvious that you'll know to replace your shoes when they look worn out. But that's not the case, according to Dr. Miguel Cunha, a podiatrist and founder of Gotham Footcare, tells CNET.
"It doesn't matter if they still look new, if the support has been worn out, you're at a much higher risk of injury," Dr. Cunha said. He also suggests making a note each time you buy a pair of shoes, so you don't forget how long you've actually had them.
Look for these concerns to know when it's time to get new shoes:
1. Your heel is breaking down
"Shoes are no longer wearable if the heel is more worn down on one side compared to the other, causing the shoe to lean on one side. The same is true for walking shoes when the sole tread pattern is more worn down on one side," Dr. Cunha said.
2. You're experiencing frequent foot pain
"Your shoe may look just fine after six months of workouts, but listen to your feet. If you're suffering from pain that you didn't previously experience in your workout, it's likely an indicator that you have worn out your shoes," Dr. Cunha said.
3. You suffer from plantar fasciitis following your workout
"The most prominent symptom of plantar fasciitis is arch and heel pain. It may feel like a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot when you get out of bed in the morning, after standing for prolonged periods of time or when you stand up after sitting for a while. It's also common to experience pain after you exercise, not during your workout. If your shoes are no longer supporting your feet in the way they used to, you may be at risk for plantar fasciitis. Make sure you get the proper workout shoe to support your arch type," Dr. Cunha said.
4. The shoe loses some of its "pop" or feels less supportive
"For running and walking shoes, you can sometimes tell when the cushion has become too compressed because the shoe may lose some of its 'pop' or feel less supportive. In a running or walking shoe, cushion wears down over time, and you should look to replace the shoes once the cushion has been compressed to the point where it is no longer providing support or other benefits. This could happen long before the upper structure of a shoe wears out and shows outward signs of wear-and-tear," Weimer said.
5. You feel more tired than usual after a workout or get new aches and pains
"Sometimes, you may finish a run feeling more fatigued than usual, or you may notice some aches and pains that weren't there before. Over time, through multiple pairs of shoes, you can learn to recognize the feedback your shoes and your body give you when a pair needs to be replaced," Weimer said.
How to prolong the life of your shoes
Quality sneakers are often not cheap, so taking care of your shoes can help prolong their wear. Again, you shouldn't ignore the signs that it's time to replace your shoes, but you can use some of the tips below to make sure you're not doing more damage than necessary.
Rotate your shoes
It's a good idea to have several pairs of shoes that you exercise in so you're not constantly adding wear to one pair, and for hygiene reasons too. "Footwear rotation is important for everyone. Shoes need to air out in order to stop the breeding of bacteria and fungus to protect the health of your feet and also the durability of the shoe," Dr. Cunha said.
Use disinfectant spray
If you exercise a lot, one concern you probably have is athlete's foot, which you can help prevent with proper shoe hygiene. "I recommend spraying Lysol into your sneakers to help kill any microbes that may cross contaminate the outside environment to the inside of the shoe. I commonly inform my patients to use Lysol spray to eliminate these germs by sanitizing their shoes, shoe inserts, and shower floors regularly," Dr. Cunha said.
Don't put your shoes in the dryer
"If you wash the shoes, utilize a gentle soap and cold water and skip the dryer. The heat from the dryer breaks down the glue and destroys your shoes," Dr. Cunha said.
Shoe cleaning tips
Every sneaker is made differently, so you should consult the shoe manufacturer instructions before deciding how to wash your shoes -- especially if you want to machine wash them. Two major shoe brands -- Asics and Nike -- both caution against putting your shoes in the washing machine and suggest use gentle cleaning agents when you do clean them.
Like Dr. Cunha said above, using a gentle soap-and-water solution is a safe choice for most shoes. Diane Regalbuto, cleaning expert and founder of Betty Likes to Clean, recommends washing shoes in a mixture of laundry detergent and vinegar if your shoes are safe to toss in the wash (again, check your specific shoe brand website if you're unsure).
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.