Switch up running shoes as often as you can to avoid foot pain


Before you head out for your next big run, you better read this post. We all know that runners get hurt quite a bit. But I've found some pretty handy ways to prevent the pain of this sport. Including studies that suggest sticking to your routine can help keep you running comfortably. And even a study that shows one unusual practice that can cut your risk of running injuries by as much as 39%!

Breaking Up with Worn Out Sneakers

Most people I know have one favorite pair of running shoes. They wear them every day, until they need replacing. But according to a study in Luxembourg, you should rotate between at least two pairs of shoes each week. Why? Well, it can drastically reduce your risk of incurring a running injury of any kind.

It sounds like a weird idea. Especially since a lot of us take time to break in our shoes and get them feeling comfortable. (Although, if you remember, your Houston podiatrist thinks that your shoes should feel right, the very first time you wear them.)

Still, the science behind rotating shoes during the week makes sense. Basically, it says that different shoes absorb the shock of running in different ways. So, what happens if you wear at least two pairs of shoes each week? That gives different parts of your body a break, every time you switch sneaks. And that can go a long way towards preventing overuse injuries such as heel pain or shin splints.

Plus, when you rotate shoes, each pair will last longer. So, you'll shop less often. And wearing shoes that aren't worn out is also key in preventing running injuries. 

When Should You Replace Running Shoes? 

As I hinted, switching between worn out sneakers won't save you from injury. But how do you know when running shoes need replacing? Well, there are a bunch of tricks you may have tried. 

Did you learn you need to replace your sneakers after 300 to 500 miles? If so, you can track your total miles on a running app. Or, if you know you'll hit that distance every two months, you can write the start date on your sneaker's outsole. You'll know to replace your sneakers three months later. 

Now, both of those running hacks can work. But they also involve planning ahead. So what do you do if you haven't been tracking your miles? Or don't remember when you bought your shoes? And now you need to know if it's still safe to train in those shoes? 

Well, here's a fun hack you can try! Put your sneakers on top of a table. Then, give them a close look. (You want to see if the heel makes even contact with the table, along with the rest of your shoe. If it doesn't lay flat, or sit evenly, it's time to replace your sneakers. 

But even if everything sits flat, you might not be out of the woods. Now, look at your sneaker's sole. If it looks old, or worn out, replace your sneakers now. The same is true if the sole shows signs of uneven wear. (Like the treads are more noticeable on the left or right side. By the way, this could also mean your feet roll when you run. And custom orthotics could help prevent running pain and injury.) 

Sounds pretty simple? That's because it is. As are the other tricks I've got for avoiding running injuries. Which I'll share with you, if you keep on reading. 

The Injury-Prevention Training Schedule for Runners 

I've already told you how your shoes can help you prevent running injuries. You should rotate between two different types of sneakers. Always make sure you've got a comfortable sneaker fit. On the first day you wear them, and every time after that. 

You also need to track your sneaker's lifetime. Because shoes that need replacing are more likely to get you hurt while running. It's easy to keep track of your next replacement date from when you first buy your shoes. But you can also learn easy signs that show you when sneakers need replacing. Like the ones I told you about a minute ago. (Hope you didn't forget already!)

But here's the deal. If you don't train smart, even the best sneakers won't stop you from getting hurt. And there are several key training tips that can help you stay safe.

Routine is King

A new study discovered that making any changes to your running routince ups your risk for injury. And I really mean any changes. That includes switching up where you run, how fast or slow you train, and even who's in your running crew. What's most surprising? Even training slower or less often upped the risk for this study's participants.

Running hurts less when you replace worn out shoes and learn to cross train

Of course, not all changes increased the injury risk at an equal rate. So, what was the most likely training change to get you hurt? It was switching up the intensity of your training schedule, to train harder and more often.

Now, that finding makes a lot of sense. Because pushing your body too hard can overload your muscles. Or even lead to bone cracks and stress fractures. Which is why my second training tip should also be mandatory for injur-prevention.

Take a Break

The key to a safe running program including rest days in your schedule. While switching shoes gives certain body parts much-needed rest time, it can't stop all overuse injuries. To do that, you need to embrace cross-training. (Or, at the very least, switch up your cardio workouts.)

After all, that's the best way to reduce foot pain and injury. Keep getting exercise, but put stress on different parts of your body thanks to different types of moves. That's the only way to give your running muscles a break. (And to build strength in those muscles that can support your runs, but don't gain strength when you run.)

So imagine this perfect world and join me in my vision of pain-free running. Switch your shoes at least twice a week. Vary your cardio routines, but don't ramp up intensity too fast. And always allow yourself days of rest between workouts.

If you follow these simple steps, you can hopefully stave off foot pain and a requisite visit to Tanglewood Foot Specialists. But if you're hurt? Or if you need help planning an injury-free running routine? That's what I'm here for! Please schedule an immediate appointment in our Houston podiatrist's office! 


Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.
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