There are some surprising reasons to rotate your footwear. Anyone who walks, runs, or hikes on a daily basis should consider adding a few more pairs of shoes to their gear closet for important health-oriented reasons. Take a look at the benefits of this investment, and then decide for yourself.
1. Adaption hypothesis
The break-in period for new shoes has been greatly reduced by modern materials for shoe manufacturing. Today’s shoes are designed for greater comfort and breathability right out of the box. All athletic or sports shoes come off a manufacturing line, and your feet need a chance to adapt to them (and vice versa). Many shoes need time to release the odors that remain from the manufacturing process (which is why shoes that have been sitting in a closed box reek of chemicals). Rotating a newer pair with an older pair means less exposure to the stink and a reduced likelihood of developing blisters and hot spots.
2. Extend the life of your shoes
Giving your shoes a 24-hour recovery period can extend their life and reduce concentrated wear. The greatest wear on shoes is from repeated wearing. When your outsoles hit the ground daily, they begin a pattern of wear in areas of the shoe that make contact, based on your gait, weight, and landing style. With every step you take, biomechanical specialists say, you are applying upwards of 1.5 to 3 times of your body weight onto your feet—thus onto your shoes. By switching to another pair the next day, you give your shoes a rest, allowing the foam in the midsole to decompress and return to its original cushioning support.
3. Challenge your feet and correct deficiencies
Just like your upper body, the anatomy of your feet and legs can change from day to day, depending on the stressors. After a long day of sitting, your feet might be unable to handle the forces generated by the impact of running, hiking, or even walking. Buy a pair of shoes with more support and stability for just those kind of days. Your feet and legs will appreciate some supportive alignment to help you avoid fatigue and strain. Changing or varying foot load and re-distributing your weight with a completely different pair of shoes (like a low or zero drop shoe) will help you avoid stressing the plantar muscles of the feet, the Achilles tendon, or ankles.
Along with different shoe builds to address pressure points, friction patterns, and force of impact, individual wear patterns impact the structural integrity of shoes. It is best to have a variety of shoes with varying degrees of wear, cushioning, or stability. The uppers in an older pair of shoes, for example, may begin to stretch, which might be okay when your feet or legs feel fine, but may feel uncomfortable when you’ve been on your feet all day. By wearing different shoes on different days, you can avoid overloading any one muscle, tendon, bone, or ligament, and can even help strengthen others.
4. Keep them fresh and give them a rest
Rotating shoes gives the ones you just wore a chance to thoroughly dry out. This reduces the mold and fungus that can grow quickly in sweat-laden shoes. Long-distance runs and hours-long hikes can produce an immense of moisture in your shoes. Eventually, the sweat starts to break down the components of your shoes, which can cause uneven wear in the uppers. Think of the uppers as the exoskeleton or shell of your shoes that, along with laces, help hold and stabilize your feet.
Moisture can also lead to blisters or athlete’s foot. This fungi grows best in warm, wet places, such as the area between the toes and underneath the balls of your feet. You typically catch it through direct contact with an infected person, or by touching surfaces contaminated with it. But athlete’s foot still needs the right environment to flourish. If you alternate the shoes you wear to every other (or even every three days) you’ll thwart the growth of this fungus by giving your shoes a chance to completely dry out.