Hi, it’s Dr. Graves. This past weekend I had that wonderful experience of getting a flat tire on my car. Fortunately I was driving my wife’s car and it has those “run-flat” tires that don’t go all the way flat even after a good-sized puncture. So I was able to drive the car home and then also drive it to the tire store Monday morning without having to change to the spare. If I had been driving on regular tires I would have had to stop everything and call AAA or change the tire myself. I would have been late to my next appointment and everything else that was supposed to happen that day.

Well, all of this got me to thinking about shoes and how we all tend to wear them well after they’re worn out. Shoes generally don’t have “blow-outs” (other than some of those old Nike Air Max’s!) This is good from the standpoint that we never get stuck somewhere and not able to walk or run because our shoe can’t function. But the downside is that it can be difficult to tell when the shoe does in fact need to be replaced. For the most part our shoes are like those run-flat tires. We can keep going on them even though they’re really slowly going flat.

Now the car with the run-flat tires also has a sensor in the tire. Once there is a puncture a notification pops up on the dashboard and a tone sounds letting you know that something is wrong. You’re notified that the tire is going to have to be changed pretty quickly. Wouldn’t it be great if our shoes had a similar notification system? But they don’t. So we keep running around on shoes that are “going flat” oblivious to the fact that we could be doing harm to our feet, legs, knees, etc.

If you drive on a normal tire after a blowout you’re going to cause additional harm to your car very quickly. Even if you drive too long on a run-flat tire you’ll eventually cause harm to your car – you just have more time to work out the situation. Well, it’s the same way with shoes! Standing, walking and/or running on worn out shoes is eventually going to cause harm to your body in some way. And your only alert or notification about the problem is going to be when you start to feel pain somewhere.

The bottom line is:  Don’t wear your shoes until they’re falling off of your feet! Replace the shoes you walk around in every day within six months (or one year if you rotate shoes). Replace your running shoes every 300 miles. And use a comparable wear time replacement for shoes that your use for other fitness activities. Shoes are relatively inexpensive to replace and very inexpensive compared to the cost of doctor visits and down time.

 
Richard H. Graves, DPM
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Podiatrist, Sports Medicine Specialist