It's frustrating putting on a newish pair of shoes only to realize that your sole has been worn down. Not only does it look tacky, it is also bad for your health. A worn-out sole can toy with your alignment, leading to ankle, knee, hip or back problems. A few factors contribute to this problem. But with a few minor adjustments, you can be back on your way to happy feet.
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Pronation and Supination
The way you walk, run or strut is a huge factor in how long your soles will last. Think of it like a rubber eraser. When you continue to put pressure on the same spot of the eraser while rubbing away at a pencil mark, it is a given that section of the eraser will soon shrink. The same goes for your soles. If you tend to walk with more pressure on the outside of your foot -- underpronation -- that area of your sole will eventually wear away. Overpronation and underpronation can be treated with focus and determination. The easy fix is to pay attention to the way you walk and actively balance the pressure between all points of your feet. In time, a healthy, natural gait will become second nature, leaving your joints relaxed and your soles intact.
Material vs. Ground
Another leading force that wears down your soles is the material of your shoes. Whether walking to work, pacing through parking lots, or painting the town red, you encounter an awful lot of pavement. Concrete and asphalt are taxing on your soles. The weaker the material, the more at risk shoes are to wear and damage. Find a sole that is the most durable for your daily activities. Most soles are leather or rubber. By choosing a sole suited for your needs, you lessen the chances of them wearing out. Leather soles are more elegant, but rubber soles are more durable. Your best bet would be to pack a pair of sneakers in your bag when you know you'll be coming in contact with rough grounds. Keep the dressier soles for indoor surfaces such as carpet, tile and wood.
One commonly overlooked factor in soles wearing out is the weather. Climate can wreak havoc on your shoes. Although leather soles are fashionable, rain can easily wash that prestige away. If you live where it's humid and muggy, aim for waterproof synthetics that keep out the moisture. Moist materials rot, making wear and tear inevitable. Rubber soles are usually the way to go.
If you have worn-out shoes you're not ready to part with, your neighborhood shoemaker could become your best friend. Replacing and restoring soles requires special tools and extensive experience, so leave it to the professionals. Half or full sole replacements are available, but can be costly, so consider repairing only shoes that were very expensive or have great sentimental value. If neither of those are true, out with the old and bring in the new.