Active Clothing

This ‘Tabletop Test’ for Sneakers Is a 3-Second Way To Determine Whether or Not You Need New Ones

Photo: Getty Images / PeopleImages
While it may not be top of mind, the right-fitting shoes are so important to our health. The adult human body has 206 bones, and just over 25 percent of them are in your feet. But the foot is more complicated than just the 26 bones—there are 19 muscles and tendons, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, nearly 8,000 nerve endings, and 250,000 sweat glands in each foot. Which is all to say that your body’s foundation is intricate and needs to be properly supported by shoes that aren’t worn out.

“Worn out shoes don’t have appropriate cushioning or shock absorption and tilt the way your foot lands when it hits the ground,” says podiatrist Jacqueline Sutera, DPM. “Over time this exaggerated angle causes strain, injury, pain, and pathology.” Fortunately, Dr. Sutera’s devised a quick way to determine if your sneakers are past their prime: the tabletop test for sneakers.

What is the 3-second tabletop test for snekers?

The tabletop test for sneakers is a visual and fast way to assess the wear on your shoes, according to Dr. Sutera. It’s also incredibly simple. By placing your worn shoes on a flat surface like a table, you’ll be able to see if they are balanced. “Examine the shoes for asymmetry, signs of wear, and see if the sholes are lopsided,” Dr. Sutera says. “Also look inside and turn them upside down and look at the soles for any holes or smoothing tread.”

How often should I be changing my sneakers?

Sneakers do not have a universal expiration date—it really comes down to how much you wear them and how hard you are on your shoes; however, there are general recommendations. “If you are a runner or walk extensively, we recommend trying to replace your shoes between 300 to 500 miles, as that is an average lifespan,” says NJ Falk, managing partner at sneaker brand Athletic Propulsion Labs (APL). So if you aim to walk 10,000 steps a day—approximately five miles—this means you should replace your sneakers every two to three months. "Often consumers don’t realize they have covered that much distance in a pair of shoes," Falk says.

One way to extend the life of your sneakers is by making sure they’re being used for their appropriate activity. “There is technology built into most athletic shoes to support your foot and body during your specific activity, so don’t wear your exercise sneakers for casual daily walking—you should have separate pairs,” says Dr. Sutera. “It’s also not a good idea to run in basketball sneakers or play tennis in running sneakers because basketball and tennis sneakers are made for side-to-side motions, whereas running and walking are made for forward motions.”

Selecting the right sneaker for your preferred form of physical activity or sport will not only help protect your feet from injury, but it’ll also ensure you get the most miles out of every pair.

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