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Find the Perfect Workout Shoe for You

Meet Your Sole Mate

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Additional Shoe Shopping Tips
  • Shoes should be replaced every five to six months (or 400-600 miles of running/walking), depending on how often you use them. If the tread (on the outer sole) is worn or if the sides are worn to the point that your shoe leans one way or the other, it's time for a new pair. Write the date on the insole of your new shoes to help you remember when it's time to replace them.
  • Unlike traditional running shoes, minimalist shoes do not have the padding or cushioning that typically break down after a certain number of miles.  Therefore, minimalist shoes can last longer.  Tread wear is a good indicator of when they need to be replaced.  
  • Get refitted for each year. Don't assume that a new design of the same shoe will fit the same way as the previous model did. It may have been modified slightly in the design process.
  • When you try out new shoes, wear the same type of socks that you wear when working out.
  • Shop in the evening, when your feet tend to be larger.
  • When standing, your shoe should have about a half-inch gap between your longest toe and the toe box of the shoe.
  • Walk or jog around the store (some will even let you try it outside) to see how the shoes feel. Try movements that you plan to use this shoe for (jumping, marching, aerobics, etc.) Your feet shouldn’t slide back and forth or side-to-side as you move around. If the shoe does not feel "just right" in the store, try on another shoe. Shoes do not need a breaking in period, per se, so keep shopping.
  • Ask about the return/exchange policy at the store. Exchange and return policies vary between stores. Some stores will not accept returns if the shoe shows wear or if the return period is greater than 30 days. Many stores will offer an exchange if you don't like your shoes after trying them, but be sure to ask.
  • Most experts recommend wearing your new shoes around the house for a couple hours a day for a few days before wearing them for longer workouts. This allows the heat from your foot to mold the inner sole to your foot for better comfort. Then, don't wear your new shoes for your longest run or walk until you have worn them for a few shorter workouts first. You will want to allow time to transition into your new shoes, even if they are the same make and model you have worn before. This is one reason why you do not want to wait before your old shoes completely wear out before you get fitted for your new ones. And never wear new shoes for a race without wearing them for a few weeks first.
This article has been reviewed and approved by Jen Mueller, personal trainer and marathon runner.
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

Member Comments

  • When I was ready for some new walking shoes I walked in a shoe store and told the clerk. He led me to some shoes and waved his hand across the entire section saying "All the shoes here are walking shoes". After trying on practically all the shoes I finally settled on a pair that was not as uncomfortable as the others. As it turned out what I bought was just a pair of cute shoes and not walking shoes. I spent a lot of money that was slotted for athletic shoes not fashion shoes. I should have researched before buying. - 5/14/2015 7:54:56 AM
  • I have had problems with my feet all my life and being knocked kneed. My feet roll over at any nano second. Resulting in sprained ankles. My tendons in my ankles are all stretched out now. Surgery has been offered to shortened them for more stability but I'm used to it now. I also have suffered plantar fasciitis several times. I can't just pick any shoe off the rack. I have to walk around the store in them.
    Good workout shoes is a MUST. I never really understood the difference until I was turned on to a good pair. What a different that made! Yes, I did go through several different makers until I found the ones that worked best for me and yes, they were costly....but worth every penny - 3/14/2015 9:48:40 AM
  • Anyone that has problems with plantar fasciitis I have found that the need for braces is non-resistant with a shoe called KURU. The shoe has great arch supports. - 3/14/2015 9:33:44 AM
  • This article was the most helpful one I have read thus far. Thank you! - 3/14/2015 7:53:00 AM
  • Following the advice in this article is exactly what I credit with keeping me running (and walking) injury free for nearly 30 years.

    I've seen many shoe fads come and go, but I stick to the tried and true advice and my "difficult" feet - flat, severely overpronating with even an extra bone (yeah, there's such a thing) are just fine.

    I do replace my shoes every 6 months or 500 miles, whichever comes first. I don't spend much on fashion, but my feet are worth it. - 2/12/2015 8:33:36 AM
  • More important to me than a good shoe and even an orthotic in sole, was to learn to use my core muscles properly when I walk! - 2/11/2015 10:32:40 AM
  • Thanks for sharing. Good info. - 1/15/2014 6:17:46 AM
  • great content and explanation without being to much.
    Thank you! - 1/2/2014 4:33:17 PM
  • Thanks I need a new pair for a long time. Been looking but haven't seen what I want. - 6/15/2013 10:35:03 AM
  • Thanks for sharing - 5/29/2013 7:32:33 AM
  • I agree with those who said this is very traditional (and limited, outdated) advice. I'm 58 years old and an avid walker, and just switched to minimalist shoes (Altra Intuitions) based on a recommendation from my physical therapist. I had back and foot problems for years and they're beginning to clear up. Putting on my old "supportive" shoes to cut the grass was physically painful and so cumbersome. Our bodies work better when ALL the muscles can do their jobs (including the muscles in our feet). After all, we don't expect our hands to need "supportive" restrictive mittens to protect them while we work! - 5/26/2013 5:54:53 AM
  • I never know whether I pronate or supinate, so it's hard to know what kind of shoe to buy. I think I need a trip to my local specialty running shop! I was going to sign up for a Zumba class, so I was glad to hear the advice about dance sneakers or aerobic sneakers here. - 4/17/2013 10:29:10 AM
  • Nice, timely article. It's way past time to replace my shoes. - 1/10/2013 5:37:51 PM
  • BAMAJAM
    I lived many years before having my feet "professionally measured" and I was really surprised to hear that my left foot is bigger than my right !! Imagine that---- LOL - 1/9/2013 3:09:54 PM
  • I do Jazzercise and have been doing it for years now. I'm permitted to dance barefoot. If I had to wear shoes it would be a problem. I would use minimalist shoes or those Skeletoes, which I wear at Curves because I must. - 1/9/2013 12:20:59 PM

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