One of the easiest ways to ensure that you have a good workout is to invest in a pair of quality athletic shoes. The right pair of athletic shoes will help protect you from injury and keep you comfortable during your training sessions; however, in order for your shoes to maintain peak performance, you're going to have to do some maintenance work. The best way to make sure that your athletic shoes last as long as possible is to take care of them properly!
From daily upkeep to deep cleaning, making athletic shoe maintenance part of your routine is necessary to ensuring that your shoes last.
• Make sure your shoes fit properly before you buy them
This might seems too obvious to mention, but make sure you buy shoes that fit. It's incredibly easy to assume that you already know your proper size and buy accordingly, but shoe fit and sizing can differ wildly across brands and your feet are constantly changing. Get your feet measured by a professional and try on your shoes before you work out in them so you can return them if they don't fit. Athletic shoes that don't fit right will be uncomfortable, and they also can wear out faster as parts of your feet rub up against the shoe in places they shouldn't. Don't let your big toe wear a hole in your brand new shoes; buy shoes that fit!
• Treat your shoes with a shoe-protecting spray
Before your first workout, treat your shoes to a spritz of protectant spray. Choose a spray that's appropriate for the material of your shoes, follow all the instructions on your spray of choice, and always do a spot test on an unnoticeable part of the shoe to ensure the spray isn't going to cause anything weird to happen to the material when it's sprayed all over. Protectant sprays will help prevent stains and water damage from small mishaps, but they're not going to save your shoes from, say, having a bucket of paint spilled on them. You still want to be careful about what ends up on your shoes, but protectant sprays will save you from everyday incidents. Reapply every few months to ensure that your shoes are fully protected.
• Only wear your athletic shoes to workout
Sure, it can be tempting to wear your super comfy athletic shoes everywhere, but think of how much wear you'll be putting on them. Every grocery store visit or shopping trip made in your athletic shoes is one less run or walk or gym visit that you'll get out of them. Your athletic shoes should be for your workouts only; buy another pair of sneakers to wear day-to-day.
• Always untie your shoes
Forcing your shoes on and off while they're still tied is a surefire way to breakdown the heels and laces. Cramming your foot in with the laces tied tightly will stretch the laces, preventing them from holding as tightly as they otherwise might. You also run the risk of crushing the heel and breaking down the material in it, ultimately meaning that your foot won't be contained or supported properly by the back of the shoe. Plus, slipping your feet in and out loosens the laces over time. Loose shoes rub your feet and cause blisters. Don't get blisters. Always untie your shoes.
• Give your shoes time to dry naturally
Whether it's damp weather or just your sweaty feet, shoes get wet. The damp, enclosed space inside of your shoes is the perfect breeding ground for smelly bacteria if you don't let it dry out sufficiently, but drying your shoes in the dryer or on a radiator is never the answer! The concentrated heat can warp your shoes or cause the glue to come unstuck, especially if the shoes are banging around in a tumble dryer. Pull out your insoles, remove the laces, lay it all out to dry, and then leave it alone. If you need your shoes to dry faster, try placing crumpled up newspaper in them to absorb the moisture or placing the shoes in front of a gently blowing fan.
• Always wear socks
If you're ever tempted to wear your athletic shoes without socks, don't. Athletic shoes are meant to be worn with socks; the extra layer of fabric adds an extra layer of moisture absorption, helping keep sweat from soaking into your shoes. Of course, there may be exceptions to the sock rule. Minimalist or barefoot running shoes like Vibram FiveFingers® may not require socks, but these shoes are usually easy to spot. Chances are you'll have a pretty good idea if an athletic shoe doesn't need to be worn with socks because you'll have purchased it for that purpose. Otherwise, wear your socks!
• Deodorize smelly shoes
Is this the most important step in prolonging the life of your shoes? Possibly. If your shoes stink too much, you just might lose them to the trash when your roommate/significant other/family members can't take it anymore and chuck your shoes in the garbage. Wearing socks and letting your shoes dry out should help combat the smell, but sometimes foot funk happens anyway. There are plenty of deodorizing sprays and shoe inserts on the market, or you can try placing a bit of baking soda in a coffee filter, bundling it tightly closed, and placing your little DIY sachet into your shoe. If attempting the baking soda DIY, make sure to remove any baking soda that may escape the filter from your shoes.
• Clean your shoes
If you splash mud onto, spill Gatorade all over, or otherwise muck up your athletic shoes, clean them. Most messes can be cleaned up with a little bit of warm water on a cloth, but for more stubborn messes you might need to invest in a shoe cleaning solution. These cleaners are available for a variety of materials, so whether your shoe is leather, mesh, or some futuristic hyper-fabric, you'll be able to find the right one to clean up your shoes without damaging them! Scrape any dried out gunk off the soles and scrub away any remaining grime with a soft rag. (Pro-tip: For dirty white rubber soles, try rubbing a magic eraser over them.)
• Follow manufacturer recommendations
To keep your athletic shoes at the absolute top of their game, follow the manufacturer's recommendations for appropriate cleaning products and procedures, instructions for proper use, and general warnings, do's, and don'ts for your new footwear.
• Replace your athletic shoes regularly
Unfortunately, your beloved athletic shoes won't last forever. On average, your running or walking shoes should last 300-500 miles and your gym shoes should last about six months. If your workouts include exceptionally long runs or exceptionally hard training sessions, your shoes may wear out faster. Worn out shoes can cause injuries, so it's extremely important to make sure that you replace your shoes on schedule. Keep track of how old your athletic shoes are by recording the date on a calendar, in the tongue of the shoes, or anywhere that you'll be able to find it easily. Log your miles or workouts on paper or digitally to keep track of the wear on your shoes, and, as an added bonus, you'll also be in a better position to track your progress towards your fitness goals!
Following these ten tips for proper care should help you get the maximum amount of use out of your athletic shoes. While it might not seem obvious at first, athletic shoes are one of the most important articles of clothing in your closet. They're an investment in your health and well-being, so taking proper care of them is important. Of course, before you can take care of your athletic shoes, you have to find the perfect pair, so make sure you check out our advice on choosing the right athletic shoes for your needs or some of our current favorites! As always, if you need more personalized assistance feel free to visit us in store or call us at 1-800-705-SHOE (7463).