Should I Rotate My Running Shoes?

A typical running shoe has an average lifespan of 300 to 500 miles and depending on how much mileage you do a week, you could be forced to make a trip to your local running shoe store every 3 to 6 months unless you rotate them.

Saving money is one of many reasons why you should rotate your running shoes.

But it’s not the only reason…

Why Should I Rotate My Running Shoes?

  • Reduce The Risk Of Running-Related Injuries
  • Results In Longer Lasting Cushioned Shoes
  • Rotating Running Shoes Saves You Money
  • Allows You To Run In The Right Type Of Running Shoe
  • Helps To Find Your Perfect Running Shoe
  • It Will Assist You In Becoming A Stronger Runner

Many runners believe that rotating running shoes is simply an excellent marketing tool to get people to purchase even more expensive running shoes without having any positive effect on the runner.

Others believe the opposite and live by the mantra “the more running shoes, the better.

Here’s why we believe – on balance – yes, you should probably rotate your running shoes.

Why Should You Rotate Your Running Shoes?

Should I rotate my running shoes?

As a serious runner, rotating your running shoes holds many advantages, such as preventing serious injury, longer-lasting running shoes, saving money by getting each pair to last longer, finding the perfect running shoe, and turning you into a better runner.

There’s no limit to how many running shoes you should own, but ideally, a minimum of two pairs of running shoes is recommended.

If you love running on different terrain, owning a pair of trail shoes and two pairs of running shoes will set you up for all conditions.

If you are cross-training for one or two days a week, you could get away with owning only one pair of running shoes. 

Should you run a minimum of four times a week, then you should rotate your shoes and own a minimum of two pairs.

There’s a few good reasons for this:

Reduce The Chance Of Running-Related Injuries

According to a study cited in The National Library of Medicine, you’ll sustain fewer running-related injuries when rotating your shoes. The study aimed to see if runners who rotate their running shoes were at lower risk of suffering from running-related injuries (RRI). 

A group of 264 recreational runners took part in a 22-week follow-up trial where they reported all relevant information on:

  • Running session characteristics
  • Participation in other sports
  • All injuries (RRI defined as the complaint of physical pain in the lower back or lower limbs area sustained as a result of running that kept them from running for at least a day)

The study affirmed that rotating running shoes and participating in other sports codes reduced the risk of RRIs as the load applied to the musculoskeletal system varied.

The study confirmed what many runners believe; the rotating of running shoes is a protective factor and reduces the frequency of injuries, ultimately reducing the risk of injury by up to 40%.

Additionally, to assess how running alters with midsole deterioration, participants in this study ran for a minimum of 200 miles in the same pair of shoes.

It showed that runners alter their patterns to keep external loads constant. These modifications happened independently of the cushioning materials – gel, air, or spring – present in the particular running shoe.

Rotating Leads To Longer Lasting Cushioned Shoes

Most experts concur that it takes around 24 hours for the midsole (EVA) foam in your shoe to fully recover after a run.

This shoe component must be in good condition because it supports your foot, cushions the blows to your feet and knees, and lowers the risk of running injury.

By rotating your shoes, you’ll enable the foam to regenerate, ensuring a comfortable ride each time you lace them up and reducing the need for replacements.

If you are a run-every-day runner and have only one pair of running shoes, your running will prematurely break down the shoe’s protective materials. 

By switching to a different pair of running shoes between runs, you’ll enable both pairs to maintain their structural integrity for longer and give you the support you require, mile after mile.

Rotating Running Shoes Saves You Money

The initial cost of dishing out the cash for two pairs of running shoes is the factor that puts most runners off. By rotating your running shoes, each pair will last longer, and you get to save money in the long run. 

If you run with one pair only, the average pair should last you between 300-500 miles depending on how often you run.

Technically you would have to replace a pair of running shoes every 3 to 6 months. 

Rotating your running gear translates to the running shoes getting the required foam resting period, which means the midsoles of both shoes will last longer. 

You will find that in the long run, you will be saving some money, as the combination of shoes will last longer than a new pair every couple of months.

Worn out running shoes
When your trainers scream: “Time to rotate two years ago!

Running In The Right Shoes

Not every runner knows that different running requires different running shoes, as some swear by a one-type-fits-all solution. Each type of running shoe impacts your running kinetics.

There are 6 basic types of running exercises that will make you a better, complete runner:

Minimal shoes (running shoes with a short heel-to-toe drop) that are ideal for speedy track or fartlek runs won’t favor your knees or feet when you take them for a 20-mile run.

For an easy mileage day, a running shoe with increased cushioning would be more suitable at lessening the overall impact on your joints and feet.

That’s why we see cushioned shoes recommended for treating plantar fasciitis.

Your body will make up for muscular imbalances if you run in the same shoe every time, even if it isn’t the best shoe for you (which is frequently the case):

  • For example, suppose you have weak hip muscles but are using stability shoes because your foot is overpronating. The shoe will support your foot for a while. You’ll assume everything is fine as your hip gradually becomes weaker without realizing it, and eventually, you can develop pain from the hip to the foot.

You maximize the training benefits by simply choosing the right running shoe for each type of run.

Different types of running shoes also force your body to use different types of muscles, as opposed to the same muscle group being trained with one specific shoe, which can result in injury due to overuse. 

Rotating Running Shoes Will Help You Become A Stronger Runner

If you are a rotating-shoe runner, you will know through experience that running with different shoes exercises different muscles. Runners who run with different shoes now and again force their bodies to adapt to different running styles.

For example, a zero-drop shoe will force your body to build strength in the smaller muscles in your ankles, feet, and calves.

Running with one type of running shoe often results in one running style and can lead to your body getting lazy when the specific shoe is doing all the work and not your muscles. Running with a stability shoe can help your body to maintain a good foot position.

One important goal of running is not to allow any muscles to get lazy and turn off due to becoming accustomed to one running style (where the shoe does most of the work), thereby defeating the purpose of running, which is to strengthen our body, while pushing yourself to new limits.

Choosing the Perfect Running Shoes

Finding the shoe that is ideal for your foot takes a lot of trial and error.

Trying on a pair at the running shoe store hardly gives you a true sense of the shoe’s characteristics. Having two or more shoes will enable you to compare various models and styles, which will be useful in searching for the ideal running shoe. 

Finding the pair that fits your foot shape perfectly, with the best-supporting footbeds, is easier when you include several models in your running arsenal to test out instead of being stuck with one model at a time.

Different Types Of Running Shoes To Rotate

There’s a good chance that the one pair you stick with isn’t the right running shoe for you. Here’s a breakdown of different types of running shoes:

  • Neutral Running Shoe: These types of running shoes are specially made for the runner who has no problem with their gait, who has a neutral running style – Brooks Ghost 14   
  • Stability Running Shoe: These type of running shoes is specially made for the runner who has low or flat arches, helping to correct a foot that rolls inward – Asics Gel-Kayano 28
  • Motion Control Running Shoe: These types of shoes are specially made for runners who have moderate to severe overpronation and are fitted with medial supports and stiffer heels – Saucony Omni 19
  • Minimal Running Shoes: These types of running shoes are specially made for runners who are looking for minimal interference with the natural movement of their feet; they are typically built with high flexibility, absent motion control and stability devices, and a low heel-to-toe drop – Merrell Trail Glove 6
  • Maximal Running Shoes: These types of running shoes are specially made for runners looking for a shoe with a built-up sole offering 2.5 times the amount of cushioning found in a standard running shoe, which helps with heel striking issues – Hoka One One Bondi 7
  • Trail Running Shoes: These types of running shoes are specially made for runners who like to run trails, designed with high durability, a grippy outsole designed with deep lugs for better traction, and a stiffer midsole featuring protective rock plates – Salomon Sense Ride 4  

Our Verdict on Rotating Running Shoes

Even though owning multiple pairs of running shoes may not be financially viable for everyone (they are pricey), rotating between two pairs has various advantages.

And it may even work out to be cheaper in the long run!

Let us know how many pairs of running shoes you have in your current stack!

Author Profile

Alex Randall

Photo of author
Alex is the editor at Revel Sports. It was his idea to take our post-club-run chats and build a website out of them. He is responsible for dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s when any of us have something to post. (Basically: it’s all his fault). A ferocious 5K powerhouse on his day, Alex is known for not understanding the meaning of the term ‘negative split‘.
Alex Randall

Revel SPorts Contributor

Leave a Comment