Once you find a comfortable pair of walking shoes that support your feet well, it is hard to part with them. But walking and running shoes have a limited lifespan. With each step, you are breaking down their cushioning and support.
People often ask us how long their shoes are meant to last.
The answer is - it depends!
Shoes are like cars, it's all about the loading and mileage. Your shoes can be 6 months old and need replacing if they are worn every day, if they experience high impacts like running or if you're carrying a lot of weight often such as carrying boxes. Your weight is also a factor - the more you weigh the faster your shoes will wear out.
If your shoes get occasional wear after hours (i.e. not worn for work) and you are of a moderate weight, then you may get up to 12 months good support out of a shoe.
The main area of a shoe that fails is the midsole area. You usually can't see this part of the shoe easily but when the cushioning starts to collapse, not only does the shoe not feel as comfortable, but it can become compressed on one side and make you unstable AND make your problems worse. If you notice any new aches, it may be a sign that you need to replace your shoes.
So don't think about how old your shoe is - think about how many steps you've taken and under what conditions.
How can I make my walking shoes last longer?
Rotate your shoes.
If you wear your shoes every day, it's useful to have two pairs to rotate. This allows the shoes to dry out fully between uses and the materials to decompress back to their optimal form. Having 2 different styles of walking shoe can be a helpful change as it ensures that the muscles in your feet and legs function slightly differently in each pair. If you are rotating 2 pairs that are the same style and can notice the difference between the newer and the older pair, you will know the older pair is beginning to break down.
Take them on and off with intention.
Loosen the lacing, use a shoehorn, give yourself time to take them on and off. Forcing your shoe on or off will wear out the heel counter quicker, giving you less support and making the shoe look worn.
If you wash them, let them air dry.
Use gentle soap and cold water to clean the surface by hand if needed, so you don't degrade any glues. Avoid direct heat as this will contribute to a faster breakdown of the glue. Let them air dry in the shade.