Aug 8, 2011 Ξ 6 comments

The Benefits of Rotating your Running Shoes

posted by Jake
The Benefits of Rotating your Running Shoes

Whether you are an athlete who enjoys running in shoes until your feet are falling out of them or you are an athlete who buys new shoes at the first sign of wear, rotating your shoes will only benefit you. Although runners are often hesitant about buying multiple pairs of running shoes at once in fear of a bill that soars into the hundreds of dollars, they often forget that an intelligent investment in the present may save them money in the future.

How Shoe Rotation Helps

The science behind shoe rotation is simple – your shoes need time to recover just like your body does. Every step that you take while running takes a toll on the muscles, tendons and bones in your legs, hips and feet. The cushioning in your shoes is there to absorb some of the shock that occurs when your feet strike the ground. So, the cushioning reduces the amount of stress that running places on the body and thus helps to prevent injury. However, as shoes endure the constant stresses of running, their ability to absorb shock decreases as the mid-sole compresses over time. Although this mid-sole compression is inevitable, shoe rotation helps to slow down the process, thus extending the “life” of a pair of shoes. It does so by allowing the mid-sole cushioning to decompress for a longer period of time. For example, if you alternate between two pairs of shoes, the mid-sole has approximately 48 hours to decompress between runs as opposed to the 24 hours that it would have if you wore the same pair of shoes every day.Since I began rotating my shoes, I’ve been able to run approximately 200 more miles on a pair of shoes than I was able to when I didn’t rotate. As an athlete who runs close to 3,000 miles per year, the additional 200 miles per pair of shoes has nearly cut my shoes per year total in half, while it has also saved me money and helped keep me, for the most part, injury free.

A Few Strategies to Consider when Rotating Shoes

One strategy for shoe rotation is to rotate between one “newer” pair of shoes and one “older” pair of shoes. Switching between the two shoes will allow your body to recognize when the older pair of shoes is “dying” because you always have a less worn pair to compare it to.

Another strategy for shoe rotation is to switch between different models, and even brands, of shoes. The primary reason for this is that some shoes tend to force your body into working certain muscles more than a different pair might. So, if you rotate between two different pairs of shoes that suit you, you may be able to avoid “molding” yourself to a certain running shoe while you will also work different muscles over the course of your training runs. If this strategy is combined with the first recommendation, it is likely that your body will be able to adapt to the constant changes in shoe models that companies inevitably make over time.

Shoe rotation is also effective for athletes who want to cater their shoe choice to different types of runs. For example, if you are doing a short, fast run one day, you may not want a shoe with a lot of cushion. Instead you might choose a shoe with increased flexibility to allow you to run faster by transitioning onto the forefoot. Or, if you are going for a longer, slower run, you may want a shoe with additional cushioning to help protect your body from the prolonged pounding that will result.


About the authorJake Shoemaker is currently a senior at Dartmouth College where he competes for the Cross Country and Track and Field teams. Jake competed in a variety of sports as a kid, but settled on running, following in the footsteps of his brother – USA Triathlon Olympian Jarrod Shoemaker.  Following graduation Jake hopes to pursue a career in education or journalism.  He enjoys teaching swim and spin classes, cooking and watching ‘his’ Boston Bruins.

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  • […] Fast forward to 11:45 pm Thursday night. I receive an email from Nike that my shoes have been DELIVERED. These aren’t just any shoes. They are my new, custom-designed running shoes that I made at Nike Town in Chicago and have been waiting for since April 10th. I was so excited, but I also wasn’t home. In fact, I was on the opposite side of town from my home. I was also very confused because the last email I had received from Nike said something to the effect of hey, we just started making your shoes and we’ll let you know when they are on their way. I wasn’t entirely convinced that the shoes were actually there, but the prospect of seeing my new shoes enticed me. Nike didn’t lie. Twenty five minutes later I was beaming at my colorful new running shoes. New running shoes are always exciting (well, let’s be honest ANY new shoes are exciting), and these came at a perfect time. When you run a lot (especially multiple days in a row), you should have two pairs of shoes that you can alternate so the insoles have time to decompress. Here is an excellent article on the benefits of alternating shoes: […]

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  • […] Science has proven that alternating between running shoes has many benefits, including the rubber lasting longer. I guess it sort of has time to heal between uses and you’ll get longer wear out of both shoes. […]

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