I walk on the edges of my feet - to dire results!
March 18, 2007 2:10 PM   Subscribe

Without fail, the soles on the heels of my boots wear down unevenly. The outside part (the edge) of the heel on each shoe wears down more quickly than the inside part, so each shoe become lopsided. How can I prevent this?

I guess I tend to walk on the edges of my feet, which causes the outsides of my boot heels wear down more quickly than the insides. Eventually, if the heels are lopsided enough, I can't even stand flat on the floor without doing a balancing act. What's the best way to correct this? Should I consciously walk in a 'corrected' manner (though uncomfortable)? Reinforce my heels? Are there inserts I could wear? FYI, I am male and have a moderately high arch. Thanks!
posted by eswusp86 to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I get this too, and when it got bad enough, I just dropped my shoes off at a shoe repair shop to get the heel replaced. It never got bad enough to be a balancing act, though. As for athletic shoes, I just replaced those. It takes approx 2 years of every-other-day-ly wearing for me to wear down my heels.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 2:22 PM on March 18, 2007

I do the same thing. If there is a Walking Company near you, you can have your feet pressure mapped for free, and then test a recommended footbed insert. For $60 or so for the insert, the results are pretty remarkable. However, this is probably best looked after by a podiatrist (which I haven't done either, by the way).
posted by samuelad at 2:34 PM on March 18, 2007

Go and see a podiatrist. You may well find after getting a set of inserts made that all kinds of niggling leg and back pains and tiredness you'd written off as normal have now gone away.
posted by flabdablet at 3:14 PM on March 18, 2007

When I lived in London (UK), I wore down the heels of shoes in about 2-3 months, in exactly the way you describe. The outside edge would wear away, to the extent that I was prone to toppling over should I be pushed.

I tried all kinds of solutions, including speciality heels. My favourite was metal studded heels, which turned any smooth hard surface (ie the tiled floor of some tube stations) into a skating rink. Incidentally, they also wore down extremely quickly, despite being metal.

I also tried getting a good (expensive) pair of shoes and having the cobbler replace the heels when they wore, which he was happy to do. I think he tried a harder material at one point, but it didn't work (and IIRC it made walking uncomfortable until I'd got used to them, because they didn't "give" on each footstep).

The best solution was simply to buy a new pair of shoes whenever I needed them. Yeah, it was a continuation of our wasteful culture. But it was just most convenient.

With casual shoes like deck shoes, I just let them wear away, and tried to pretend it was a fashion statement when the rubber heel started to hang-off.
posted by humblepigeon at 3:33 PM on March 18, 2007

Yeah, you're probably "supinating"/"under-pronating" (according to about.com, often associated with high arches). I think one of the tests podiatrists use to detect this (as well as under-pronating) is actually looking at your shoes for this. Especially if you run or do some kind of similar activity, you want to do something about this because it can lead to unpleasant foot and leg problems. Basically not as much shock is absorbed when your feet hit the ground, as would be if you had a normal stride. Afaik you shouldn't try to consciously correct this, because you will probably end up over-pronating instead, but using inserts over time will help you correct it (or at least I've been told this about over-pronating).
posted by advil at 3:34 PM on March 18, 2007

"as well as under-pronating" = "as well as over-pronating"
posted by advil at 3:35 PM on March 18, 2007

Incidentally, there is a cure for this: the Alexander Technique.

It's all about learning to use your body better and breaking bad habits we all find ourselves with. You can learn to "hold yourself" better, and therefore also walk better. (Be careful researching the AT because not only is there a lot of bullsh*t out there about how it works, but it's also seen as something only actors should be interested in.)

The AT really will work (I studied it for some time) but it's not an overnight procedure. This also means that it's an expensive procedure, because of the number of lessons involved. But it will cure this problem, and give you a better stature as well (which is always a good thing—if I adopt my Alexander Technique training and walk into a room, I can literally turn heads because it's so unusual nowadays to see somebody actually standing upright, and not slouching).

I don't know where you live but you should find an association overseeing Alexander Technique teachers within your country. Definitely only see approved/qualified teachers.
posted by humblepigeon at 3:42 PM on March 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

you're supinating. you can get an orthotic from a podiatrist for this.
posted by rhizome at 3:46 PM on March 18, 2007

If you're getting your shoes repaired, see if they have Vibram brand resoles. They wear very very well. Leather also seems to wear better than plastic but it can be slipperier.

For running shoes (or shoes with soft rubber bottoms), once they get worn down but the uppers are still in decent shape, get a tube of shoe goo for DIY instant re-soling.
posted by porpoise at 3:55 PM on March 18, 2007

This will sound strange, and will take some work on the part of your shoe repair shop, but is worth their trouble and yours. For many years, I was a boot maker, and later sold machinery and chemicals to the footwear and apparel industries.

In the mid-80's, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company developed a molded outsole material for athletic shoes which is still marketed under the Indy 500 brand name. Basically, this was a high carbon vulcanized synthetic rubber, very similar to some of the high temperature, high wear rubber compounds actually used in its tire rubber formulations. The material could be molded and vulcanized under tremendous heat and pressure into very thin, yet very tough "waffle" outsoles for running shoes, where it became famous for it's durability, outlasting competitive soling materials by 4 to 6 times. Moreover, because of the high carbon content, it offered fairly good friction with it's long wear, for good wet and dry slip resistance. The major drawback, in fact, was that it was very, very difficult to abrade and chemically prepare for bonding with mid-sole materials, and required preparation with a series of cleaners and primers of various composition, to prepare it for bonding to EVA mid-sole materials with urethane cements. So, it remains a premium soling material for tennis and running shoes, where its performance is worth the labor and time cost of its use.

Your repair shop can obtain die cut heel and soling inserts made of this material, from certian shoe materials suppliers. The Goodyear resin materials are molded and vulcanized under high heat into thin, flat sheets, and then die cut into insert shape for heel lifts and ball wear insert plugs. The material is cemented and/or nailed into cavities routed into normal lifts to provide an extremely long wearing, non-marking product. But it requires use of methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) based primers, clorinated activator solutions, and high strength urethane cements to bond the material to leather or other synthetic or rubber soling material.

The trade name of the compound, again, is Goodyear Indy 500 soling compound. It will not be cheap, or perhaps easy to procure in the States in small quantities, due to the need for careful preparation of surfaces in bonding it. A lesser wearing but related material, together with the appropriate cleaning and preparation solutions are available from American Biltrite. The AB products provide about 1/2 the wear life of the Goodyear product, but are easier to prepare and bond repeatably, and they are generally far superior in wear to molded nylon or thermoplastic heel lifts. Your shoe repair shop is probably very familiar with AB shoe repair products.
posted by paulsc at 4:09 PM on March 18, 2007 [9 favorites]

Get orthotics.
Get them from a professional, preferably a podiatrist.
Your feet, your spine and your knees will thank you over time.
posted by caddis at 5:13 PM on March 18, 2007

Even when you walk completely normally (ie not over pronating or supinating) you will still wear out the outer edges of your heels first. Why? Because that is how human beings walk. Nobody hits the ground with the exact middle of their heel. There is nothing wrong with you. There is nothing wrong with your shoes.
posted by Kololo at 6:09 PM on March 18, 2007

Paulsc - thank you for that bit of information. I'd always wondered "why don't they make shoe soles out of the same stuff they make tires from; surely it would result in shoes that last much longer".
posted by mrbill at 6:13 PM on March 18, 2007

There is nothing wrong with how you walk. For $5, any cobbler will be happy to nail rubber pieces to the heels of your shoes to counteract the wearing-down problem. They can be replaced with they, inevitably, also wear down. Your shoes do not need to be resoled. You do not need to spend $$$$$ learning how to walk, or having your feet pressure mapped or your stars re-aligned or your tea leaves read.
posted by jellicle at 7:23 PM on March 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

Laetoli footprintWP, 3.7 million years ago.

Miles to go, yet.
posted by cenoxo at 8:19 PM on March 18, 2007

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