9 Signs You’re Wearing the Wrong Running Shoes

Choosing the right shoe is a skill that every runner must learn. If you happen to use the wrong ones during your training or competition, you might feel discomfort which can ruin your performance. This is why it is crucial to know the early warning signs of wearing the wrong shoe.

While preference is a highly-respected matter in shoe choice, there will always be clear signs that would tell you you’re wearing the wrong shoe. These include pain, uneven patterns in wear and tear, blisters, and discomfort.

Ahead, we’ll look at 9 signs that you are wearing the wrong shoe and look at what could be done to fix it.

1. Your Legs and Feet Hurts After Running

Pain in your legs and feet is a huge red flag that displays something negative about your shoes. Although normal muscle soreness is expected, a distinguishable pain that is different from the usual call for some inspection.

Pain or discomfort in the feet after a regular short run may be a result of wearing the wrong size. This can easily be fixed by choosing a shoe that’s half size bigger or smaller depending on your situation.

Conversely, leg, knee, or hip pain may be a result of wearing the wrong heel-to-toe drop or support type. In cases like this, it is best to consult a professional so he can help you determine which shoe is best for you.

2. Your Shoes Are Worn Down

Worn-down shoes are a telltale sign that they are old and need replacement. One can think of this either through duration or mileage. Shoes that have run as far as 500 miles need to be replaced immediately. If you run an average of 20 miles per week, that is about 6-8 months.

Why are old shoes not good to wear? Well, their cushioning is more likely damaged and has chipped away. You will experience less comfort as you run more with foams that are deteriorating.

Once you have a chance to replace your shoes, remember to break in them first before proceeding to a full marathon run or major event. Failure to do so will only result in injuries and additional pain. 

3. Your Body is Feeling Beat Up After a Run

A common issue for heavy runners is that they feel beat up after a run. While this is quite common for heavy runners due to the higher impact induced to the body by their own bodyweight, the level of cushioning of their running shoes can affect the amount of impact induced to the body.

If you feel extra beat up wearing a certain shoe compared to the other, then you should consider wearing a softer (more cushioned) running shoe. That way, the shoes’ cushion will be able to absorb more impact, therefore, reducing the impact received by the body.

An example of a well-cushioned running shoe is the ASICS Gel-Nimbus, a popular daily trainer.

4. You’re Having Foot Injuries Frequently

There are different kinds of foot injuries outside of ankle sprain, blisters and black toes being the most common.

Although there’s always a possibility that you’ll have this when running extra long distances, getting it frequently call for a new running shoes.

Frequent shoe injuries usually mean wrong shoe size, but in some cases, the shape of the shoe itself doesn’t fit the anatomy of your foot even though the size is accurate.

In such cases, selecting a different size based on width may be a viable option. There are wide and narrow versions of the same shoes available in most leading shoe manufacturers. Brooks Ghost 14 (my favorite daily trainers), for example, are sold in different widths.

5. Tendon Pain and Issues

Tendons are tissues that act as a rope that holds muscles and bones together. They allow free movement of limbs and even absorb impact when running.

The most common inflamed tendon for runners is the Achilles tendon. This is a common issue for runners wearing a zero drop or low-drop running shoe.

While there’s nothing wrong with wearing low and zero drop shoes (in fact, some experts even encourage it), frequently experiencing tendonites in the Achilles tendon call for action.

The best and simplest action would be to wear running shoes with 10mm-12mm drop. This elevates your heel giving your tendons less stress when you run.

If you want to learn more about heel-to-toe drops, check out this other article I made.

6. Changes in Running Gait

Changes in running gait that results to discomfort or inefficient running form usually means there’s something wrong with your shoes. The most common culprit for this is the support level. Overpronators (runners whose foot roll inwards when running) require shoes with high stability.

An example of this type of shoe is the Brooks Adrenaline. It’s build with GuideRails in the medial part of the shoe which prevents the foot from rolling inward. Admittedly, identifying this by yourself is hard. Hence, we recommend to consult a professional to help you identify which support level is best for you.

7. You Feel Slight Nuances When Running

Getting annoyed due to your shoes is something that should not happen. This will remove your focus on running performance since you will be conscious of how your gear affects you. Thus, slight discomforts must be addressed immediately to improve your track efficiency.

Such cases include laces always untangling, being uncomfy with stack height, and even nuances regarding the texture of your sole. 

Detection of such issues as early as when you try it on the shop for the first time poses great benefits. It will prevent future issues that will hinder you from enjoying the thrill of a marathon. 

8. It Feels ‘Too Hot’

Shoes have to be breathable in order to help you deliver your best performance. If you’re wearing a running shoe that feels ‘too hot’ inside, then consider switching to a running shoe with better ventilation.

This will not only affects you comfort but also affect running performance. Researchers found that the breathability of your shoes can affect the blood circulation within the area, thus, affecting your running performance.

9. There is Uneven Wear and Tear on the Sole

An even tear on your running shoes means that it compliments your type of pronation (how your feet roll). Thus, if there is a sign of uneven damage, it only entails that your shoes should be replaced.

The shoe wear pattern of the different levels of pronation.
The shoe wear pattern of the different levels of pronation.

If you notice that there is uneven wearing of the soles either on the medial or lateral side, this usually means you’re over or under pronating. Hence, you should replace your running shoe with the correct stability feature.

Also read: Neutral Vs. Stability Running Shoes: What’s the difference?

What Happens If You Wear the Wrong Shoes?

Wearing the wrong shoe for relatively short distances won’t do anything besides little discomfort. But, if you wear the wrong shoes for long distances, you may risk ankle sprains, blisters, calluses, and black toes.

At the very least, you may experience redness and burning sensation around common hotspots:

  • Heel
  • Lateral side of foot
  • Foot arch
  • Underfoot
  • Between the toes

As such, you should always make sure you pick the right shoes. As a general rule, pick a shoe that has at least a half thumb to a thumb’s width allowance between your longest to and the tip of the shoe.

Read next: How to Choose a Running Shoe for Marathon (A Runner’s Guide)

Final Thoughts

Your running journey should be filled with smiles and fulfillment due to your hard work! Never let a pair of shoes stop you from performing to the best of your ability. Checking on these signs will aid you not only in your shoe choice but also in improving your self-awareness in training and competition. As always, your preference matters, so know yourself better every time you step on the road. 

Nicho Mauricio

Running wasn't always my favorite sport. I was a CrossFit athlete and I loved every bit of it. But since the pandemic began, I was forced to stay away from the gym and train at home instead. Things got boring. That's when I decided to trail run with my friends. I instantly got hooked. So I started training and researching all things running. As a beginner, I want to buy only the best running gear and do only the best practices. This blog is where I share what I've learned in my journey and my experiences as a runner.

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