There are a few things that come into play when deciding if it is time to replace your athletic shoes. Three ways to determine if they need to be replaced are amount of usage, signs of wear, and the age of the shoe. The components of an athletic shoe that can break down and wear out are the outer sole, midsole, and heel.
The outer sole is typically made of carbon rubber, which is very abrasion resistant and also consists of 2 components. Most athletic shoes will have a harder and more resilient rubber in the heel of the shoe since this is where most of the wear will occur.
The mid-sole is normally composed of a foam material, such as ethylene vinyl or polyurethane, sometimes even a blend of these materials. This area of the shoe is intended to be shock absorbing and in some shoes, controls excessive foot motion. The midsole will begin to compress over time, because of the repetitive load that is placed on that area. The shoe will no longer absorb shock, or control the foot as well as it did when new. Sometimes the midsole can compress and deform unevenly which can create alignment changes in the foot. This can ultimately lead to injuries associated with over-use, such as achilles tendinitis, stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, and metatarsalgia.
Midsoles should be considered worn out if any of the following occur:
- After 300-500 miles of running or walking.
- Shows signs of unevenness when placed on a flat surface.
- Display noticeable creasing
The heel counter of the shoe helps hold the heel on top of the midsole and prevents excessive heel motion. This area is considered broken down when it feels flexible, when compressed side to side, or appears to lean to one side or the other when viewing from the rear of the shoe.
It is typically best to replace athletic shoes that are over a year old, whether they are worn out or not. Replacing athletic shoes when necessary may be costly in the short term, but can help prevent injuries and keep you active in “the long run”.
If you or a family member has diabetes, you understand the importance of good foot care. Diabetics face a double challenge when it comes to foot issues. First, diabetes causes nerve damage or neuropathy. Neuropathy results in a loss of feeling in your feet making it more difficult to notice pain and discomfort and, therefore, minor foot problems often become major because lack of sensation doesn’t allow them to be detected in the early stages. Second, people with diabetes often have poor circulation, which reduces the ability to resist infection and to heal once an injury or infection occurs. At Blue Ridge Foot & Ankle Clinic we believe that your podiatrist can play a key role in helping keep diabetic feet healthy. A diabetic patient should have regular check-ups with a foot doctor. In addition to preventative care, our board certified podiatrists, Dr. Stewart M. Chang and Dr. Kevin P. Murray will be watchful for many conditions that are of particular concern to diabetic patients, including:
Infections and sores (ulcers)—Even a seemingly minor cut or small blister can develop into a very serious danger for diabetic patients. Infections can quickly develop on the surface and progress down to the bone.
Dry, cracked skin—Diabetic patients are more prone to dry, cracked skin than other patients, due to poor circulation. If not kept under control, this can become an entry point for bacteria to enter and an opportunity for sores to form.
Corns and calluses—Neuropathy makes it difficult to tell if your shoes are putting pressure on your feet and causing corns or calluses, which, if left untreated, can develop into ulcers.
Nail disorders—Ingrown toenails and fungal infections are more common and more threatening among diabetic patients.
Charcot foot—This is a complex foot deformity that occurs when a broken bone goes undetected and, because the patient doesn’t feel the pain and continues to walk on it, soft tissue destruction occurs. Charcot foot is a severe and disabling condition that surgery may become necessary.
One way to ensure healthy feet if you are a diabetic is to set up a consultation with one of our podiatrists and establish good habits of care, as well as a regular schedule of visits to examine and care for your feet. Call either our Fishersville or Charlottesville office today or schedule an appointment online.