Wear Pattern & Stride

0 vs 1200 miles

0 vs 1200 miles

Wear pattern on shoes has long been held as a way to determine stride characteristics.

However the truth is that shoe wear pattern does little (or nothing) to actually tell you what your feet are actually doing, as they have a great deal of movement inside the shoe independent of the footwear.

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Wear pattern also completely ignores how your feet are interacting with the ground in relation to your body positioning. This important factor may be more crucial than how your foot actually touches the ground.

Below is the initial post asking about Heel Wear Pattern, followed by my response and two others.

So my running shoes show a significant amount of wear on the outer heels of both shoes.

 I run in Brooks Ghost 6s which are Neutral.  It’s almost time for me to buy a new pair.  Does this wear pattern indicate anything that I’m doing wrong and/or should I be looking into getting a different type of shoe? -AStack75


No indication of anything wrong. If they’re comfortable and you’re happy with them, feel free to purchase the same or a similar pair. I’d recommend getting that new pair and slowly transitioning from the old to the new pair. Start off with your shortest run in the new pair and every week you could add one more run in the new shoes until the old ones are phased out, or you can wear them both for as long as that other pair is good for.

Depending on how long you’ve had the shoes and how significant the wear is, it could possibly hint that you’re heal striking a bit heavily. It’s most important to try to not land with a straight and outstretched leg in front of your body, but land with a flexed knee closer to under your center of mass, perhaps with a slightly less pronounced dorsiflexion of the ankle. But again, that’s just a “maybe” without actually seeing you run. -kjkranz


The above is good advice. 

Some people will tell you heel striking is bad. Don’t listen to them. What’s bad is landing with the knee extended and the foot out in front of you as kjkranz states. 

If there’s a lot of wear on the heel, it’s also possible that you scuff or slide the foot as you land–I’ve seen people do that. But lateral heel wear is pretty normal even without a gait problem. There’s a reason many manufacturers put more durable rubber in that area. -Duck916


Yeah, that’s a typical wear pattern.  And I like kjkranz recommendations on running form. -Nazaretti


Kyle is a running coach who works with people all over the world to help them run more consistently & be resilient to injury.

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Wynne A Tysdal - August 25, 2014

from the Heel Wear Pattern thread, this comment/advice, “It’s most important to try to not land with a straight and outstretched leg in front of your body, but land with a flexed knee closer to under your center of mass, perhaps with a slightly less pronounced dorsiflexion of the ankle”. I have long known I am a straight legged inflexible, heel striker and this sentence accurately describes my stride. Question is, how do I change it without risking further injury? My knees are quite arthritic (goes with overuse, stride and…. age).

    Kyle - August 25, 2014

    I would start with incorporating this 12 week hip/glute/etc strengthening program. I am having almost all of my own athletes go through it right now.

    As for your form, practicing the feeling of running in place and jumping rope can help, since during those exercises you’re basically practicing running form, you’re just not leaning forward so not moving forward. The first warmup exercise all of my athletes do before a run is 1 minute of jogging in place.

    While running, I would suggest starting off only during your shortest run of the week to consciously try to land closer to under your body. Also think of landing with a more flat “whole foot” strike instead of a pronounced heel-strike.

      Wynne A Tysdal - August 26, 2014

      Great suggestions, thanks. I have a tendency to forget about the hip flexor tightness until reminded, so I’ll get back to working on some flexibility there. Had not thought about running in place or jumping rope, will try that also.
      Keep writing!

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