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My shoes look in good shape with no holes in them. I think I've fallen in love with them and been running forever in them though. Do I have to get new ones?

Answer, provided by Michael Lowe, D.P.M., Past President, American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine

Q: How do I know when a shoe is worn and needs replacement for the athlete?

A: The athletic shoe of today is engineered primarily around e.v.a. or polyurethane mid-sole material. This is the material that will wear out first in all of the current running, court (tennis, volleyball, and basketball), and walking shoes.

The outer sole material is made with a hard carbon fiber, which is very abrasion resistant. The mid-sole material is a compressible, shock absorbing, protecting device, which after a certain amount of compressions will not rebound. When this material loses its rebounding protection, it then becomes much less shock absorbing, and even worse, can create an alignment change of the foot, due to the compression of the e.v.a. with repetition of foot plant.

The typical running shoe should be replaced every 350-500 miles.

This varies to the weight and size of the runner. The heavy runner and hard foot striker should replace a shoe sooner in the 350-mile range, rather than 500 miles.

The basketball shoe also is made up of e.v.a., which loses its rebound to stress and impact. This correlates to the runner in time applied to the shoe usage. It will take a runner about 60 hours to cover 500 miles (assuming an 8 minute mile per hour pace). The typical high school or college basketball player will work out for 3 hours per day 6 days per week. This will place the shoe wear at over 60 hours per month. Therefore the basketball shoe should be replaced every month.

Injuries seen when shoes are not replaced frequently are: shin splints, heel spurs, plantar fascitis and stress fractures.

Therefore the shoe is a relatively cheap investment in preventative medicine.

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