How do I tell if my running shoes need replacing?

Identifying when your running shoes may need replacing is far from an exact science, however there are a number of factors which contribute to the lifespan of a shoe and how to tell if they are past their use by date. 

The general rule of thumb when it comes to this question is based on mileage; how many kilometers have you travelled in the shoe? Although it is still quite a large range, the accepted distance is 600-1000km’s. In saying this, having an awareness of each of the other contributing factors will give a much more accurate gauge of if it’s time to chuck, donate or relegate. 

Below are a list of the few key considerations; 

  • Shoe type – A minimalist style or racing shoe will have a shorter life span then a standard runner. This is due to slightly less cushioning and support to reduce shoe weight.
  • Gait pattern/ running style – For example, if you are a forefoot runner, you may get less life from your shoe as the shock is not being dispersed over as large a surface area and is concentrated to one area of the shoe. This also applied is you are a significant over pronator as this will compress the medial shoe structure quicker, especially if you are not wearing a posted shoe. 
  • Physical signs of wear and tear 
      • Outsole – Observe areas of excessive wear on the tread. This is can also tell a story as to whether you are wearing the correct shoe for your biomechanics. 
      • Midsole – The midsole is hard to evaluate through sight, however the main sign this is wearing out is the shoe does not feel as responsive or bouncy as it used to. Trying a new shoe on may make this easier to identify. The bent shoe test (below) can be used to evaluate the midsole integrity. 
      • Upper – Look for general signs of wear and tear. 
  • Bent shoe test – The bent shoe test is used to assess midsole integrity. Hold the shoe one hand around the fore foot and one around the rearfoot and heel counter. Apply a bending pressure through the middle of the sole – if the shoe easily folds here it is a sign there is a loss of support and structure. 
  • Pain/injury – Finally, a major indicator of shoe wear is pain or injury. If an old pain returns or new pains start it can be a good idea to consider how long you have been wearing your shoe. Replacing your footwear before you reach the 600km mark and then interchanging them for the last few months can be a great idea to reduce injury risk. 


If you are unsure whether your shoes are still appropriate, or in assessing your shoe notice an unusual wear pattern, the podiatrist is able to do a thorough assessment of your biomechanics and provide shoe recommendations or further treatment advice as required.