At some point, every runner has looked down and thought uh oh…
Why is there a hole in my running shoe?!
Running shoes take a lot of punishment: the impact of hitting the ground is equal to approximately four times the runner’s body weight.
With the sheer amount of physical force running shoes are subjected to with every use, inevitably, even the best-made pairs will wear out and will need to be replaced with a new pair.
There are multiple causes of holes forming in running shoes. These vary based on circumstance, as well as chance. Of course, not all shoes are made equal – because neither are runners!
Differences in a runner’s specific gait, size, and usage will actually impact how running shoes will wear out. As a result, some runners may find themselves constantly finding holes in the toe-bed, while others may find the outsoles of their shoes are more prone to forming holes.
What Causes Holes In Running Shoes?
Holes form in running shoes because of use. More specifically, holes are most commonly the result of friction. Shoes are made with breathable materials like mesh (because a sweaty foot is not a comfortable one).
However, a downside of this is that such materials can be more prone to small tears.
Holes in the Toe Box
Holes in the toe box are the most common holes that occur in running shoes. This is because the upper mesh or material is worn down from the inside as a result of the big toe rubbing against the material.
There are multiple reasons why holes in the toe box happen. Most obviously, if the toe box is too shallow, then there’s not enough room for the toes, leading to holes.
Although it may seem counter-intuitive, holes in the toe box can also be caused by shoes that are too big. This is because the big toe is causing friction to the upper mesh before the toe guard. The shape and size of the toe guard needs to match your feet in order to prevent toe holes.
Holes in the Heel
The other most common hole in running shoes is in the heel collar lining. This too is caused by friction due to rubbing. Runners with excessive heel movement may find that the inside lining of their shoes wears through quickly.
With both causes of holes in running shoes, there’s not much that can be done after the fact. While shoes can be temporarily repaired, if your running shoes seem to develop holes quickly, your best option is to take precautions with your next pair.
Should You Run With Damaged Running Shoes?
Although it might be tempting to try and get as much usage as possible out of your athletic shoes, runners should take caution. Running with damaged running shoes increases your chance of injury and can have a detrimental impact on your overall performance.
Generally speaking, running shoes are specifically designed to optimize the user’s body movements while running. This includes cushioning and shock absorption that helps reduce strain on a runner’s joints and feet. As shoes are used over time, these qualities can degrade. While a hole in your shoe does not necessarily indicate that the shoe is no longer providing optimal support, it is definitely a warning sign.
See more: 16 symptoms of wearing bad running shoes
How To Fix A Hole In Your Running Shoe
While it’s possible to fix a hole in your running shoe in order to prolong its life, eventually, you will need to replace the pair. Repairing the hole when it first appears will help extend the running shoes’ overall lifespan.
The best way to fix a hole in your running shoe is to mend the material with a patch. Shoe repair kits come with a material patch that can be either sewed or ironed on. Some manufacturers even offer self-adhesive options, but these don’t typically last.
For small tears, you likely will only need one patch that you can cut to size. For a larger hole, you may need more than one. In either case, you’ll need to clean the affected area – a cotton ball soaked in alcohol should do the trick. Then it’s just a matter of sewing or ironing on the patch, based on the manufacturer’s instructions.
Why You Should Fix Holes In Your Running Shoes
From a purely aesthetic perspective, it’s a good idea to repair your running shoes to keep them looking their best.
More importantly, there’s also a health and safety reason to fix holes in your running shoes. When left damaged, these holes present an environment for mold and bacteria to thrive.
This can cause odor or can lead to problems like athlete’s foot.
How To Make Your Running Shoes Last Longer
Because the most common causes of holes in running shoes are due to friction, reducing friction can help prolong the life of your running shoes.
Keeping your toenails short can help reduce the pressures put on the toe box. Wearing appropriate running socks with good toe padding also helps. Finally, purchasing shoes with an adequately deep toe box can help prevent premature wear and tear.
It’s important to note the size and shape of the toe guard as well. The “rule of thumb” here is that there should be a space equal to about half of a thumb’s width between the longest toe and the end of the show. More space can mean that the toe guard isn’t positioned to protect the mesh, while less space can cause discomfort and crowding when the toes extend during running.
Holes in the heel are caused by heel movement, which itself can sometimes be corrected with insoles. Socks with heel padding can also help reduce movement and friction. Finally, wearing properly fitted shoes that are laced all the way up can better secure your foot, reducing heel movement and reducing the wear and tear on the inner heel lining.
Don’t underestimate the power of a good lacing technique!
The Bottom Line on Holes In Running Shoes
The easiest way to reduce the frequency of holes in your running shoes?
Make sure you purchase a pair that fits properly! Buying shoes that feel comfortable in the toes, but also fit snugly in the heel – especially during liftoff – can make a dramatic difference in how quickly holes form.