In the same way that you should be watching your car tires for uneven wear patterns, you can do the same for your shoes. I like to analyze the results of what I’m doing in my training. One way of doing that is to look at the wear patterns on your shoes.

Runner’s World has a review of tread pattern analysis. There are also a lot of other blogs out there there that provide some information.

Bottom line is that you should look at your shoes to see any big problems you might have.

I’ve had these shoes for about twelve months, and they have probably 1,000 miles on them. That is a lot of miles on one pair of shoes for me, as I buy a new pair every year and I ran ALOT last year.  I find that it’s important for me to get a new pair of shoes every year because the wear patterns on the back heels really do affect my knees and hips (I found that out last year when my hips started hurting after changing shoes).


Here is what I found.


I have a bit of uneven wear on my back, outside heels. This is some significant wear, and the parts that wear down lead to me compensating with my hips and knees. When I started with these shoes last year, I got some hip and knee pain because I wasn’t used to the normal height of the heels after wearing my older shoes for too long.




This pic shoes the amount of wear on the back, outside heel.





Close-up of the heel wear on my left shoe.





Close-up of the heel wear on my right shoe.






Close-up of the front of my right shoe. On the tip is a new wear pattern that I haven’t seen before.  The tip of my toe is worn down a bit. I’ve never seen that before. I concentrated alot on landing mid-foot this year, and that could be causing this change somehow. But I really think this is more from dragging my foot a bit on the lift-portion of the run during my long runs. It’s only on this foot, so that means I have an imbalance somewhere.




Close-up of the front on the left shoe. The top-right circle on this shoe shoes a bit more wear in that area that on the right shoe that had the toe wear. The large middle circle shows a slight wear pattern.


This is what I took from Runner’s World that I think applies to me:

Heel and Forefoot Wear:
Significant wear in the heel and the ball of the foot extending to the big toe.
Diagnosis: Runners who overpronate, or roll their feet too far inward as they land, commonly show this wear pattern. They often have flat arches and a more flexible foot, so it rotates farther inward on the ground. Too much rotation at the hip or knee can also cause overpronation.
Recommendation: Shoes that provide a lot of arch support can help overpronators limit the inward roll and keep their stride in line. Since they break down soles more quickly than other runners with the extra rotation on the ground, overpronators should wear heavier shoes with more durable rubber outsoles, such as the Brooks Trance 7 (see the Fall Shoe Guide).

Heel Wear:
Heel worn down to the midsole, with some slight wear around the ball of the foot.
Diagnosis: This wear pattern occurs with runners who overstride, meaning that they run with their feet too far in front of their body. Most of an overstrider’s foot rotation happens in the air, which puts the heel in sole position to absorb the force at impact.
Recommendation: Overstriders should look for shoes that offer a lot of protection, like the New Balance 1223 or the Brooks Radius 7 (see the Fall Shoe Guide) (depending on their arch type), since they are more durable and have extra cushioning to take some of the shock out of landing. They should also keep an eye on the heels of their shoes and be sure to replace any pair when the tread on the outside wears smooth.