Wear Patterns

Shoes are not meant to last forever. Over time, you will begin to notice the erosion of the sole of your shoes, as well as other changes in the structure of your shoes. These wear patterns can help determine if you have a proper gait (walk). They can also detect problems with your feet.

Various wear patterns

Wear patterns can be seen on the:

Sole- Because your foot strikes the ground in a repetitive motion when wearing shoes, wear and tear will naturally be present on the bottom of your shoe. These patterns can be concentrated on the instep, the outer edge, the heel, the forefront, or a combination of these areas.
Midsole and insole- The layers of your shoe between the sole and your foot can also indicate a pattern of wear. Your podiatrist can examine your insole to determine if there is excess wear in one section, indicating a potential problem.
Toe box- Abnormal wear of the toe box will show either on the top or the sides of the area. This would be caused by your toes pressing into the outer material of the shoe.
Upper/overall structure of shoe- In addition to regular wear, your shoe’s structure can be altered by an abnormal gait or problems with the biomechanics of your foot.
Because shoes can wear differently, it is important to examine the wear pattern of several different pairs of your shoes when looking for problems. If all of your shoes have similar abnormal wear patterns, you might have a problem with your foot itself, as opposed to a gait issue that could be caused, in part, by the type of shoe you are wearing.

Using wear patterns to detect foot problems

By examining the wear patterns on your shoe, a skilled podiatrist might find issues with either your foot’s functioning or the way you walk. Some of these issues can be corrected simply by purchasing orthotics or the correct shoes for your activity. Other foot problems might need additional treatment.

Some problems your podiatrist can diagnose from your shoe’s wear patterns include:

  • Bunions
  • Overpronation
  • Supination (under-pronation)
  • Hammertoes
  • Altered weight-bearing
  • Flat Feet
  • Gait problems
  • Poor shoe fit/improper shoe for activity.


If your shoe’s wear patterns are abnormal, visit your podiatrist to find the best treatment for your foot problems.