Rotating is for Shoes Too, Not Just Tires

I try to never wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row.  That is because giving shoes a day off helps increase their lifespan and can be better for your feet too. Bob Glover in The Competitive Runner’s Handbook, states “Studies show that by alternating two pairs of [running] shoes they’ll last longer than three pairs used consecutively.”

When you wear shoes, they absorb the sweat and heat from your feet.  (I know, it’s a little gross to think about.)  Plus, the impact of walking or running in them compresses the sole, mid-sole, and pretty much everything that makes the shoe comfortable.

Giving your shoes a day or two to air out (but don’t heat them) does two main things.

  • It allows them to dry thoroughly, reducing odor and damage to shoes from bacterial and fungal growth.  This also protects against athletes foot.
  • The rubber sole and mid-sole are able to decompress fully. If they aren’t able to decompress all the way between wears, the cushioning with “reset” to a more compressed normal state and will break down faster.  Glover noted, “Rotated shoes retain 80% of their cushioning after sixty runs of an average of 5 miles (300 total miles) compared to only 60% for those not rotated.”

Rotating also benefits your feet, beyond protecting against athletes foot.  No shoe fits and supports your foot absolutely perfectly – although you should always seek a good fit.  A slight imperfection of fit can have a slight impact on your gait, wearing your shoes in a way that increases the imperfection, further impacting your gait – and the downward spiral continues.  Alternating shoes helps prevent a pair of shoes from negatively altering your gait and from wearing out a shoe unevenly.

Years ago a pair of sneakers made me start walking flatfooted.  A few weeks after ditching them, I was noticeably less flatfooted and soon after my feet returned to normal.  Unfortunately it took me several more years to realize the importance of rotating shoes and I have the blisters and collection of destroyed shoes to prove it.

Frugal Score

Time: Virtually no extra time needed; potentially a time savings because less shoe shopping is needed.

Money: A greater upfront cost, but long term savings of approximately one pair for every two purchased.

Environment: Shoes lasting longer means fewer have to be produced and less trash overall.

Quick calculation: assuming average shoe price of $40 and wear rate mentioned above = $40 for every two pairs purchased.

Conclusion: Clear win since it’s extremely easy and is good for your wallet, your feet, and the environment!