Reading Shoe Wear Patterns

You can learn a lot about your feet from your shoes. Don’t believe us? It’s true, particularly if you use them for athletic activities (such as running), or if your shoes don’t quite fit.

Consider pronation. In a “healthy” stride, after your entire foot connects with the ground, it should rotate inward about 15% as it flattens, providing cushioning for the impact—this is pronation. However, many people do not meet this ideal, and as a result can experience pain or injury in different areas or structures as a result. Overpronation—where your ankle rolls too far inward—is quite common (particularly among those with lower-than-normal arches or flat feet). While rarer, the opposite problem—underpronation, or supination—also affects many.

If your feet hurt after running, your shoe treads might be able to clue you into whether pronation problems may be culpable. The “even” pattern, with wear across the heel and ball of foot and under the big toe. Excessive wear toward the inside of the shoe may indicate overpronation. By contrast, tread loss concentrated on the outside edge usually suggests supination.

Wear patterns along the sole can also indicate gait or foot irregularities beyond pronation, too. Especially vicious wear in the heel (with much less in the ball of the foot area), for example, is common in those who overstride, indicating that the heel is bearing the brunt of impact forces and suggesting a greater likelihood of future heel pain. The reverse—excessive wear in just the balls of the feet—is associated with tight calves or Achilles tendons.

It’s not only the treads that speak to you, either. If you notice distortions in the upper portion of your shoe, it’s probably too small. A bulge on the side of the shoe near the base of your big toe may indicate a bunion, or just that your shoes are too narrow. Likewise, ridges or bulges on the front of the upper mean you probably need a taller shoe, possibly due to hammertoes or claw toes.

If you’re struggling with foot pain, check what your shoes are telling you! Then, make an appointment with Dr. Harvey Danciger in Palm Desert, CA for a full evaluation. We provide a variety of therapies for foot pain (including the latest technologies, like laser therapy), fit custom orthotics to accommodate abnormal foot structures or gait styles, treat deformities such as bunions and hammertoes, and more. Whatever is cause your discomfort, we’ll find out what is and do everything in our power to help you fix it.

To schedule an appointment, please fill out our online contact form or give our main office a call at 760-568-0108.

Dr. Harvey Danciger
Dr. Harvey Danciger is a podiatrist and foot surgeon in Palm Desert, CA specializing in the foot and ankle
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