We’ve all got that favorite pair of shoes. The ones that go with everything, are somehow cute yet surprisingly comfortable enough to wear everywhere, and garner dozens of compliments every time you put them on. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve worn that particular pair of shoes to death, until the soles are, to borrow a phrase my group of friends uses to describe this exact situation, “beaten to sh*t.” But though it may be tempting to hang onto them long past their prime (because, the compliments!), board-certified podiatrist Jacqueline Sutera, DPM, says it’s probably not the best idea.
“Shoes, in general, should not be used if they are worn out because this can cause injury,” she says. “When the soles and heels of shoes are worn, they force your foot to land on the ground at an increased angle, which over time can cause ligament injury, sprains, falls, tendonitis, pain in your hips, ankles and back, and fasciitis.” So aside from walking around in a wonky-looking pair of shoes, you’re also doing a disservice to your body.
According to Dr. Sutera, if your shoes are on life support, there’s an easy way to tell when it’s time to replace them once and for all: With the tabletop test. “Put your shoes on a tabletop and look at them from the back at eye level,” she says. “Examine and compare to see if there are any signs of wear or if they are uneven. Also, flip them over and examine the entire sole surface for other signs of cracking, holes forming, or shoe coming apart.”
If you really can’t bear to part with them, you may be able to get them fixed by a local repair shop—you’ll usually have luck with heels, boots, and loafers as long as they’ve got a hard bottom. “Any sneakers, or shoes with any softer surface are not easily and successfully repairable and should be replaced,” says Dr. Sutera. The silver lining? You now have a very good excuse to invest in a new favorite pair of kicks.
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