It’s understandably easy to get attached to the pair that’s taken you through memorable 5K runs and perhaps even your first half marathon. In a sport like running that requires so little of anything else, running shoes are our closest allies, faithfully absorbing shocks and improving our efficiency with each step. It’s important, however, to respect that ALL shoes have a shelf life and even the ‘luckiest’ ones have to face retirement at one point or the other. Not doing so is one of the easiest ways to invite running injuries and hamper your performance.

Every time you pound the trail or the treadmill, it generates a force greater than your body weight with each square inch. Your shoes—when performing well—absorb the shock of this impact and dissipate it evenly. When they’re worn out, the impact is distributed less efficiently, leading the shock to reverberate through the muscles and tendons in your feet, ankles, knees, hips and even your back. A recipe for disaster indeed.

Here are 5 useful tips to know when to call it a day with your old pair.

Check your mileage: On an average, shoes are good for a range of 450 – 800 kilometers, but this depends on other factors as well, such as the surface you run on, your body weight and how hard you land on your heels. If your shoes have served you somewhere on this range and you find your feet are hurting or uncomfortable after a normal run, it’s time to re-examine your footwear. Don’t wait until you see your mid-sole material peeking out from the bottom. If the painful feeling persists through and after a week, it’s not you, it’s your shoes.

Do a press test: Push the outsole of your shoe upward into the midsole with your thumb; in new shoes, this makes the midsole compress into visible lines and wrinkles but the more worn out the shoes are, lesser is the compression on the midsole. If it feels unyielding and stubborn—rather than the cushy elasticity of new pairs—then it’s likely that the cushioning is not effective anymore and it’s time for new shoes.

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Twist it out: In the ‘twist’ test, hold on to both ends of your shoes and gently twist it. A good pair of shoes will feel firm and not give in that easily. Old shoes that have lost their support on the other hand will twist easily, almost like a canvas cloth being wrung out. That means your midsoles are more or less worn out and not doing much good for your run.

Pay attention to aches: Your body has an effective way of letting you know when it’s time for a new pair—and it says this through nagging aches in your feet, ankles, hips, knees and back when you’ve been running on the same pair for a considerable while. These are warning signs for harsher injuries that could come up with continued usage of shoes with little or no cushioning left in them. Other signs include friction or blisters in unexpected places, which means your shoes have stretched out and your feet are moving around too much.

Contrast and compare: Regular marathon runners often rotate through two pairs of running shoes; this is helpful because the newer pair can serve as a reference of comfort and efficiency and give you an idea of when the old ones need to go. If you notice a major difference in your run when you slip into a new pair, especially in cushioning and how the shoes mold to your feet, it’s time to retire your old ones.

Main image: Monsterawr

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