Australians spend a lot of time on their feet. On average, you walk over 2.7 million steps every year, equating to 7400 steps per day. That number will be even greater for those rising up to the 10,000 steps per day challenge! You can bet that all these steps add up and take their toll – not just on your body, but on your shoes and orthotics, too.
How long do shoes last?
Running shoes have a lifespan of between 8 and 12 months, or 500 to 700 kilometres. New shoes feel so good on your feet because the materials are at their firmest and most supportive. Over time, however, the materials wear down and become compressed.
The wearing out of the material can be a big problem because your shoes aren’t just a protective or aesthetic covering for your feet – they have the ability to control how your foot moves and how your muscles and tendons activate and work. When shoes wear down, they become less stable and supportive and are therefore no longer able to give you the full benefit and control to help you move optimally.
What about orthotics?
Much like your shoes, your orthotics don’t have an indefinite lifespan. Custom orthotics have an average lifespan of between one to two years. Truthfully, the expected lifespan of your orthotics will largely depend on the materials from which they are made, your activity levels, whether you’re wearing them at work or during exercise, your weight – and many other features.
We use superior orthotic materials that are made to last. Over half of our orthotics are 3D printed using PA11 (nylon), which is stronger per millimetre of thickness than standard polypropylene. This means that we are able to make your orthotics thinner to fit a wider variety of footwear, without compromising on strength and function. PA11 is also fully sustainable, being made from 100% plant-based castor oil, making it significantly better for our environment, too.
Why worn orthotics may lead to pain recurrence
When orthotics wear down, the risk of pain or recurrence of injury may be increased. Your orthotics will have been prescribed to achieve a specific function such as helping to reduce strain on tendons or tissues, control the position of the foot and ankle during gait, offload painful areas etc. Your orthotics are perfectly suited to this function as they are made from a 3D scan of your feet, under a tailored prescription from your podiatrist. When orthotics wear down to the point that they can no longer fulfil the function for which they were prescribed, you may start to overuse muscles or put excess strain on your feet and legs, increasing the chance of recurrence or development of pain.
Annual orthotic checks maintain your foot health
By having your orthotics, shoes and feet checked every year by your podiatrist, you’re able to get the most out of your orthotics and maintain your foot health. During this appointment, we’ll review your orthotics and the alignment of your lower limbs when wearing them. We’ll discuss the recurrence of any symptoms, your comfort and confidence with walking or exercise, and look for any changes in your feet and legs that may affect your orthotics.
If necessary, we’ll issue you with a new pair of orthotics, or give you an idea of whether your orthotics are likely to make it to next year’s check – or if they should be replaced sooner. Our feet are our foundations for life – let’s look after them before any pains or problems develop.