How to Analyze Wear on Running Sneakers

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Runners repeat the same movements in their exercise, more so than most other sports, in which the actions vary. The wear pattern on a runner's shoes tells a great deal about the runner's style and technique. Sports injury doctors will often ask to see the shoes of their patients to gain clues about the health of their running style. Runners wear their shoes out evenly, on the edge, the heel and forefoot, or just on the heel.

Things You'll Need

  • Running shoes
  • Check the shoe for even wear across the heel and under the ball of the foot, and for slight wear under the big toe. Runners World magazine says that 80 percent of runners show this wear pattern. Even wear indicates a healthy running style and no need for special running shoes. However, if the runner is bigger or heavier than average, podiatrists recommend a shoe with more stability than the average shoe.

  • Check the shoe for wear along the outside edge and the upper part of the shoe. Runners with wear patterns along the edge of the shoe are supinators, or runners who don't roll their ankle inward as they run. The entire weight of the body comes down on the outside edge of the shoe. Runners who supinate instead of pronate develop stress fractures. They need shoes with extra padding that absorb more shock.

  • Check the shoe for wear on the heel, the ball of the foot and the big toe. A shoe with this wear pattern indicates a runner who doesn't use the outside of his foot. The runner rolls his ankles too much, so the inside of the foot bears too much of the load. Also, if he has too much rotation in his hips or knees, his shoes will wear in this pattern. He needs a shoe with substantial arch support, which will keep the foot from rotating too much toward the inside of the foot.

  • Check the shoe for wear on the heel and mid-sole only. Runners who over-stride, or stretch their stride out farther than is natural, wear their shoes down on the heel to the mid-sole with little wear around the ball of the foot. This wear pattern also indicates a runner who runs with her feet too far in front of her body. Runners who wear the heel down need shoes with extra heel support.

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