When are my old shoes ready to be thrown out?

The soles of your shoes tell a story about your gait.

There are many old things that can tell a story or two. The rings of an old tree stump for example can indicate the approximate age of the tree. When it comes to old shoes, wear patterns can definitely tell quite the story about your feet. 

What is a Wear Pattern? 

When you look at the soles of an old pair of shoes, you will see a wear pattern. This is basically how the soles of your shoes have worn out and which areas seem to have had the most wear and tear. For some the edges of shoes or the heels may show significant wear and for others the ball of the foot may show the most. Each person has a different foot structure and gait and the soles of shoes show that difference through its wear pattern. 

What are Your Shoes Trying to Tell You? 

Evaluating the wear pattern on old shoes is actually a really important and informative thing to do as it can tell a lot about your feet, how they move and whether or not you are wearing the right kind of shoe for your foot needs. Here are several things a sole can show and what it means: 

  • When you see a bulge on the side of the big toe it typically indicates where a bunion is pressing against the shoe or that a shoe is too narrow for your feet. 
  • Ridges on the upper toe box usually occur when you have hammertoes or are wearing a shoe that is too small for your feet. 
  • Wear on the outside of the shoe can indicate a foot that supinates, meaning it does not pronate or roll inwards adequately enough when the foot hits the ground. 
  • Wear on the inner sole may indicate a foot that overpronates or rolls inward too much. 
  • Wear on the ball of the foot often indicates a case where your heel tendons are too tight or where you overpronate. 
  • A lack of symmetry of the worn areas on both shoes can indicate a leg length discrepancy or over striding on one of your legs. 
  • If the toes pop up where the toe box bends, this may show that the lacing is too close to the toe box and puts a person at risk for shin splints.


Use Your Old Shoes To Help Choose New Ones 

Before buying a new pair or shoes or running shoes, use the clues on the old ones to guide you in what kind of needs your feet have. You may need shoes with a more rigid structure or a style with definitive arch support. 

Instead of heading to the shoe department, stop first for a visit with Dr. Danciger. He will be able to read your soles and provide specific guidance as to what kind of shoes your feet need. It may be necessary to use inner liners or custom orthotics in your shoes to prevent foot pain and injury as well. Call our office or make an appointment online from our homepage and bring your old shoes with you! 

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