If you live an active life with plenty of exercise then your running shoes don’t get off lightly – they’re out in the mud, in the cold, on the pavement, in the heat, we kick with them, we jump in them, and we certainly rack up the steps in them!

Good footwear offers us comfort, protection and support but it’s important to know when to say goodbye to our hardworking friends…

There are many factors that contribute to the lifespan of your favourite footwear including the construction of the shoe, the way your foot falls as you run, how your body is built, how often you use them, whether you wear them exclusively for your outdoor sessions, and even what climate you live in.

For information on pronation and supination and how they may effect your footwear choices, see here.

So, how do you know when it’s time to retire your favourite sports shoes?

Listen to your body

Have you experienced any little twinges in the bottom of your foot recently or aches where you are not usually feeling aches?

This could be your body telling you that you’re no longer getting the support you require from your sports shoes.

When you put your sports shoes on your feet, do you experience any discomfort? Do they no longer feel like they have ‘bounce’ to them?

Cropped view of a sports woman tying the laces on her running shoes, next to a canal.

The thumb test

Take your thumb and push it in on the cushioning part towards the bottom of the shoe.

How does it feel?

When running shoes are new this material will feel very rigid but when the shoe starts to age the mid sole material softens. A soft sole isn’t providing you the support and the protection that you need.

What do they look like?

Just like your car tyres, once the tread of your sports shoes (where the shoes comes into contact with the ground) starts to wear away you will begin to lose grip.

When you look at them, do they lean to one side? This could be a sign that the mid sole or arch is probably worn out.

And just like buying car tyres, purchasing new training shoes can be a real ‘grudge purchase’ – you’d really rather not spend the money, particularly as the current ones seem to be going ok….

But once it gets to this stage, you really should buy a new pair if you value your long-term health and comfort.

Go window shopping

Try on a new pair of runners – when you put on a brand new pair of runners, is there a considerable difference in how you they feel compared to your current pair?

Tips to get more life out of your sport shoes

Use your sneakers only for exercise

The more your shoes are used, the more wear and tear they will receive. Keep your training shoes for training, and your walking shoes for walking.

But having more pairs of shoes means extra expense, right? Well, yes and no. Buying shoes for specific uses is more expensive at first, but if your running shoes last longer because you are only wearing them for sport, ultimately that’s more money in your bank account.

Allow your shoes to dry out

Keep your running shoes in a place where they are exposed to air, and not in gym bags, in hot vehicles, or in direct sunlight.

And when they get wet, dry them out. Don’t let them remain damp to fester.

If you’d like some ideas on how best to dry them when they are soaked through, see here.

Don’t wash your running shoes in the washing machine

Use cold water, gentle detergent and air dry your shoes, this decrases the breakdown of the adhesive used to assemble them.