How can I save my sole?
July 8, 2008 7:45 AM   Subscribe

Why do I wear down the heel of my shoes so quickly?
I ground the rubber on the very rear-most part of the sole (slightly to the outside) down to nothing within 4 months on every pair of dress shoes I buy.
Is there anything I can do other than take them for repairs?

I'm an average-sized male with no foot / leg problems and tend to walk relatively little in the nice dress shoes I am wearing down. I don't think there's anything remarkable about my stride or the terrain.
posted by There's No I In Meme to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Have you ever had a shoemaker/cobbler put some rubber taps on the heels? It usually costs about five bucks, and it can really save the actual heels underneath.
posted by YoungAmerican at 8:02 AM on July 8, 2008

You can proactively have sacrificial heel-caps applied at a cobbler, so that the shoe's original heel isn't worn away.

I'm an average-sized male with no foot / leg problems

Do you know, or just guess this to be true? Because it might be that a podiatrist would find something less-than-ideal about your walk.
posted by mumkin at 8:03 AM on July 8, 2008

I have a shoe repair joint put tabs on the same part of the outer heel you have trouble with, they nail them on using small brads. On cowboy boots I have them use metal tabs (they were called 'cleats' when I was a kid), on hiking boots plastic tabs, on shoes plastic tabs. Sandals just get worn down fast and no way out I know of. These bitty tabs are hard plastic (or metal) and they really last, and they're unobtrusive.

Other than that, just take them to shoe repair shop just as you get to the end of the first layer, and have them put on a new cap -- they'll tell you they can't do it and then they do it, when you say yes you can; they want to sell you heels and you don't need them if you get there on time.

I don't know why I walk that way and don't care, sounds like you've the same mind as far as that goes.
posted by dancestoblue at 8:04 AM on July 8, 2008

Have a video taken of your walk and frame the shoe impact sequence to see if you favor that worn side?
posted by Freedomboy at 8:05 AM on July 8, 2008

Visit a podiatrist who can analyse your gait and offer advise on issues like this.
posted by fire&wings at 8:06 AM on July 8, 2008

Are you wearing well-made shoes?
posted by Zambrano at 8:16 AM on July 8, 2008

I have the same problem with virtually all shoes. I've always assumed that it's how I walk (which I think is a bit funny). Like you, I probably should go to a podiatrist, which will probably prevent future back problems.
posted by JMOZ at 8:21 AM on July 8, 2008

You probably supinate excessively (aka underpronation). Do you occasionally trip by accidentally rolling your ankle too much to the outside? I do, and I wear down my shoes in the same way.

It's fairly common. Not the end of the world, but it can result in back/knee problems later on down the road, in addition to annoyingly uneven shoe wear. A good running shoe store can analyze your gait and recommend walking shoes, but for dress shoes you'll probably need custom orthotics, in which case visit a podiatrist. Take a pair of shoes that you've worn down when you go.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:46 AM on July 8, 2008

Does the wear occur on both shoes? The heel on my right shoe tends to wear down as you describe because of the pivoting that foot does between the gas and break pedals in my car, but the heel of my left shoe tends to not wear in that pattern.
posted by HiddenInput at 8:47 AM on July 8, 2008

This happens to all my shoes - the back outer corners wear down to the point that I will eventually wear into the shoe itself. In the past year, I developed a number of sprains in the intrinsic muscles of my feet, leading to a summer of very painful walking. I subsequently went to a physiotherapist, who prescribed me orthotics, as I supinated quite a lot. I was surprised by the amount of tilt my heels needed (as well as some wonky metatarsal support), but the shoes I've worn for about 6 months only with orthotics have very little wear on the outside corners on the heels now. The pain-free walking is a nice bonus too, I suppose.

If you're going to go to a podiatrist/PT for orthotics, try to get one who has good reviews. My understanding is that, at least in Canada, pretty much anyone can set up shop to make orthotics. There's definitely a variation in the quality of orthotic you can have prescribed.
posted by flying kumquat at 9:02 AM on July 8, 2008

This happens to me as well. The only solution, I've found, is to buy more expensive shoes. I normally go through a pair of "dress shoes" (for work) every four months or so, too. However, by spending more than $200, I can get a pair of shoes to last for at least two years.

I also buy a cheaper pair of shoes for work, and a more expensive pair of shoes for more formal occasions.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:25 AM on July 8, 2008

I have this same issue and it I believe that it is a result of driving - not walking. I am pretty tall (6'4") and the way my feet sit in front of the pedals, it wears my heel down in exactly the same place on every pair I have worn since I started driving.

I drive a standard and always have if that helps.
posted by captainzero at 10:00 AM on July 8, 2008

As others have suggested, it may be driving not walking that is causing the wear. If it is driving, a friend of mine solved the problem by keeping one rubber overshoe in his car. He slipped it on whenever he drove and wanted to protect his "good" shoes.
posted by yqxnflld at 11:27 AM on July 8, 2008

It could be a cheap pair of dress shoes. Are they leather soles or rubber? Where are they made? I find good, Italian made shoes with leather soles hold up much better than cheaper, Chinese made shoes with rubber soles. Nevertheless, get them resoled and get the best sole that the cobbler has.
posted by JJ86 at 11:45 AM on July 8, 2008

I also have this problem since moving into a 4th floor walkup. Walking down the stairs sometimes catches the back of my heals rubbing them slowly away.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 12:11 PM on July 8, 2008

I second mumkin re: seeing a podiatrist. My mom always had this kind of problem with her shoes, and many years later, it turned out that she had a benign tumor in her spine that had very slightly altered her walking style, hence the unusual wear. That's obviously an extreme case, but there's no harm in getting checked out to see if your stride really is normal.
posted by ukdanae at 1:40 PM on July 8, 2008

I use Spred Sole, which is designed for purposes like yours - it's flecks of rubber in a matrix of rubbery glue, so you apply it (like a glue or paste) to the worn areas, leave it to dry overnight, and you've just added a new layer of rubber to the sole. Apply more layers if you want to replace a considerable thickness of sole. And/or replenish the spred-sole layer as you wear it down with the miles.

For easiest maintenance, I don't recommend using it to keep your soles square (their unworn like-new shape) though - they wear down in response to your gait, so they wear the hardest before the areas that protrude the most from your gait get worn down a bit. So I suggest letting the shoes wear down the sole a little bit first, and then use the spred-sole to maintain them at that shape, so that from that point onwards you are wearing down the spred-sole (and then replacing it) instead of continuing to wear down more of the original sole.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:52 PM on July 8, 2008

Happened to all my shoes and boots until I bought a pair of RM Williams boots with oil-resistant soles. Six months of daily work wear, no wear on the heel. I'm a big guy - should last a normal-sized guy forever. Google for US distributors.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:57 AM on July 9, 2008

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