The Death of Your Shoes: Part 1

We all have our favorite shoes and no one ever wants to admit that it’s time to let them go. What are some objective guidelines to follow when cleaning out your shoe closet? How do we know if our sneakers are still good to do their job? Are those heels that have been sitting in your closet for years still able to provide the necessary support for your ankles and feet or do you need to get a new pair? Here are a few basic rules about shoe shelf life that you should know.

Running Sneakers/Sneakers

The standard shelf life for people who run regularly are about 300-500 miles. If you’re a light runner and run only about a mile a day or 5-7 miles per week, your sneakers should be good for the year unless you are an extremely heavy stepper. If you’re a moderate runner, you probably need to replace your shoes after 6-8 months (about 8-15 miles per week) and if you’re a marathon runner or playing on a higher athletic level, you may need to swap out your shoes every 3-4 months.

For people who have sneakers sitting in their closets collecting dust, check to see if your sneakers are cracking or falling apart at the seams. After a while the shoe tends to dry out leaving you with only a shell of a sneaker that doesn’t really offer any support, cushioning or proper protection. If you have taken meticulous care of your sneakers and are storing them in perfect conditions, you don’t have to worry as much and can probably wear your sneakers for 300 miles of running stretched out over time.

If you can’t calculate usage by miles, follow the general rule of replacing sneakers yearly for light users, every six months for moderate users, and as frequently as you see wear and tear for heavy users.


Your favorite heels can be tough to say goodbye to, but if you’re a frequent heel wearer, you already know that they don’t last very long. Heels are fragile shoes to begin with (more narrow and usually thin soled) so you can only wear them until your sole has worn down by half. If the straps holding your feet in are loose, it’s also time to get rid of them or get them re-soled if you’re really invested. If the heel itself is worn down, you can also get it replaced. Don’t wear your heels if you feel like they’re wobbly or you feel any pain in your feet. Also, to help keep your heels wearable longer, try bringing a comfortable pair of shoes that you can change into any time you don’t have to be in the heels.

Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm of Clifton Foot & Ankle Center has been treating patients for over seventeen years. If you have any questions call our Centreville, VA office at 703-996-3000 or make an appointment here.

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