"And all that I knew was the hole in my shoe, which was letting in water"
July 27, 2012 4:28 AM   Subscribe

Frequent holes in my shoes - does anyone know what's going on?

Every pair of shoes I own ends up with a hole in exactly the same place through the sole. The holes are just larger than a cigarette burn at the core, with a wider layer of damage around the outer layer of the sole, and they go through the entire sole. All these holes are in the middle of the front of the ball of my left foot. They occur in all different styles of shoe - pumps, court shoes, boots, etc. - which don't have a heel (I prefer to wear flat shoes because I do a lot of running around at work, walk a lot to get around my city, and because I'm pretty tall without heels).

I've heard of people wearing down one side of the heel of their shoes, but I haven't met anyone who's experienced this kind of shoe problem before. The speed with which it happens is another puzzling thing - if I wear the pair of shoes daily for two or three weeks, a hole will begin to form.

I do buy cheap shoes, and tend to buy flat shoes with thin soles for the reasons listed above, but a £5 pair of shoes and a £20-30 pair of shoes will wear through just as quickly, so I tend to go for the cheaper ones. It's frustrating because a) the holes appear so suddenly that sometimes I don't notice, wear them out in the rain and get wet feet, and b) I'm spending a lot more money on shoes than I'd like, and burning through pairs really quickly.

I'm guess it's some kind of gait problem, but I'm not sure what kind of gait problem could be causing this particular issue, and I don't especially want to go down the route of gait analysis/orthotics.

If it helps at all, I'm female, early twenties, based in the UK and I don't experience any daily foot, back, leg or pelvic pain. I do have a long history of ankle supination/weakened ligaments, and broke my leg on the side of the shoe that wears down about ten years ago. This particular shoe problem has only been an issue in the last year or so, though, so I'm not sure if these long-standing ankle issues could be linked.

Any ideas?
posted by terretu to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Watch how you do things like get into/out of chairs, cars, etc, or how you move between the stove and kitchen sink. I bet you put most of your weight on your left foot and pivot.

This is actually pretty common.

If you want it to stop, try switching up the way you move around during your daily tasks.
posted by phunniemee at 4:35 AM on July 27, 2012

Do you habitually use a foot pedal/knob/switch of some sort that's operated with your left foot, or do you usually rest that foot on something your right foot never touches?
posted by easily confused at 4:54 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I wear out shoes funny. At 55, I've only just learned I have hip dysplasia. Figured it out partly due to the damage it has caused my knees.

That is to say, the oddest problem can cause you to walk in a particular way, which in turn could cause peculiar wear on shoes.
posted by Goofyy at 4:58 AM on July 27, 2012

Dont wear the same pair of shoes daily - alternate between 2 or 3 different pairs.

As far as wearing down evenly or not - it all depends on how you walk. Also, in heels I wear down the right heel first, but in flats I get the hole towards the front center of the shoe in the exact way you describe. I don't life my legs much when I walk, so that part gets a bit more friction with the ground.

The speed with which you go through shoes could be due to how much you walk more than anything else.

Do you wear rainboots? I prefer to have these on in the rain, and if I'm going somewhere nice I can tote other shoes in my bag.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:51 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I eat through my shoes in the exact same location, on both feet. Drives me crazy, but I think any fix would involve completely changing one's gait.
posted by threeants at 7:33 AM on July 27, 2012

An alternate solution would be to re-sole your shoes, but it's probably just cheaper for you to buy new shoes.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:37 AM on July 27, 2012

My shoes wear out the exact same way. It's because my left left is longer than my right. If I stand with my hips square and shift my weight to my right foot, I'm about 2 inches shorter than if I shift my weight onto my left (keeping my hips and shoulders square.)

If you have the same issue as I have, try putting durable insoles in one or both shoes. It helps them wear out slightly less quickly.
posted by palegirl at 9:29 AM on July 27, 2012

Pay attention to how you walk, especially how your foot strikes the ground, and consider a bit of focus on changing that gait. Sounds like you're a scuffer rather than a heel-roller. If you want the shoes to last forever, a firm contact with the heel is best, plant and roll toward the toe, pick up your feet with every step to be sure you're not dragging along hte ground.
People who wear out their heels tend to have a drag as the heel comes into place; natural hold of the ankle determines if that skims material off the back of the heel, or the inside/outside edge. Some people destroy the leading edge of the soles by scuffing their toes as they step off the foot. Sounds like you've got the variant that picks up your toes and isn't too hard on your heels, but scuffs in on the ball of your foot. This motion can be especially prevalent in flip-flops, because the action of scuffing into place snugs your toes up into the thong - if that statement made sense to you, consider whether your shoes are a little loose at the heel, and you're scuffing to keep your toes in place inside the shoe.

Another option would be Morton's toe - having a longer second-toe than big-toe can focus your weight onto the center-joint of the ball of your foot, making that part of the foot/shoe more prevalent to scuffing, as mentioned above. Orthotics that redistribute your weight might help with your natural stance/gait in a way that would change your shoe wear patterns. I am not a real foot-medical kind of person, I just think the computer at the Walking Company stores is cool. You should go there and get them to map your pressure stance - it's a stationary thing, not a gait analysis, but hey, it's free!
posted by aimedwander at 11:23 AM on July 27, 2012

Two pairs of shoes worn in alternation will last significantly more than twice as long as one pair of shoes worn daily.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:46 AM on July 27, 2012

Do you have a callus on your foot which matches up with the area of wear? Maybe the head of one of your metatarsal bones extends in such a way that it creates a spot of pressure on your insole, then exacerbated by heavy wear. Maybe something like Morton's toe.
posted by illenion at 1:04 PM on July 27, 2012

This happens to me. Here's how I solved it.

I didn't walk too often before we got rid of our car. Then I started walking a lot. And going through shoes really, really fast, just like you say. For example, I bought two pairs of Chucks mid-summer. By winter, both pairs were worn almost through, on both feet, in one spot. It took me only two weeks to wear the tread off a pair of Docs. Cheap surf shoes, about a week. And in about four months, I wore at least 1/4" through the vulcanized rubber of a Fluevog F sole. Sneakers, dress shoes, boots, they all fall to my murderous feet. And the worst thing is that not just are my shoes wrecked, but when they get wrecked, the shoes start wrecking my feet with this divot I am grinding into the midsole. If the shoes get too worn, I cannot wear them because they hurt my feet. (I tried using silicone caulk to fill in the holes in the sole on the Chucks, just to see if it would work. Yeeessss, sort of, but it wears out fast and anyway silicone is super slippery in wet weather. Not recommended.)

So I got an idea, and wrote about it on my LJ: What if I spread out the pressure of my foot within the shoe... with spatulas. In short, the spatulas were not painful and worked well to spread the pressure of my foot around, so I went ahead and ordered spring steel insoles from "Dr. Jill's Foot Pads". I got a set of full plates, and a set of half plates (forefoot only).

I have the full plates in my almost unwearable due to "divot" pain Fluevog boots, and the pain is totally gone. The sole is springing back to its normal shape; there is a crater on the bottom of the boot where I was grinding it away. The plates do make the shoe a little stiffer. But in a pair of boots, that's not really a big deal. The best part is that they're comfortable and the soles are now wearing properly.

I put the half plates in my old chucks to see how they'd work, and they're certainly present in that the flexible sole of the shoe doesn't flex so much in the front, but it's not objectionable. So I threw the silicone coated ruined Chucks in the garbage and put the plates in a new pair of Vans basically yesterday, and they feel great.

So I don't know if this will work for you with your footwear. I'm a dude with big floppy feet with strong arches and hammer toes, and I wear simple, non-padded, non-cushioned shoes and boots.

The physics made sense to me: spread out the pressure from my foot inside the shoe and the sole will wear much more evenly. Since I am not a "foot slapper" but rather more dainty with my walking, I don't notice a change in my gait.

Now it is true that steel "turf toe" plates are basically orthopaedic gear but I figure that if anything starts going funny with my feet (instead of my shoes), then I'll actively seek professional guidance. But since my feet were fine and are still fine and the plates were added for the sake of the shoes, it's a pretty safe bet. And, the plates are dead simple to put in and out, they're just glued on the bottom of a thin felt insole. Easy to move from shoe to shoe, or to switch full for half plates.

It's really nice now to contemplate *not* having to buy shoes every couple of months again.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:43 PM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

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