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Why Do My Shoes Wear Faster on the Outside?

POSTED ON IN Foot Latest News BY Chris Centeno

I wear out shoes very fast. In fact, my black dress shoes now have worn down about 50% of the heel on the outside, so I no longer wear them. Do you do this too? If your shoes wear faster on the outside of the heel, why is this happening? Is it causing other problems? Is it a sign of something that needs to be fixed?

The Answer Can Be Found in How You Walk

How you walk varies from person to person. In this case, we are looking specifically at how the foot hits the ground. Some of us have a balanced, or neutral, foot strike on the ground as we walk. Some make contact with the ground with more pronounced inward pressure (pronation) on the foot. While yet others make contact with more pronounced outward pressure on the foot (supination). Our focus today is on supination. If your shoes are wearing faster on the outside, your foot supinates too much when you walk.

It’s important to understand that for a foot to evenly absorb the forces as it hits the ground, neutral contact between the foot and the ground naturally involves slight rolling both inward and outward of the foot. This minimizes the ground forces as they move from the foot and up the leg. But when the foot rolls too much one way or the other, this extra pressure can create problems, such as arthritis, not just in the foot, but all the way up the kinetic chain, into the ankle, knees, hips, and even the spine. Likewise, problems can start at the top of the chain (the spine) and work their way down to the feet, causing supination. Let me explain.

Believe It or Not, Your Supination Problem May Be Caused by Irritated Back Nerves

Supination can be caused by a number of different things. It can be congenital, based on, for example, the angle of your ankle or knee, a hip that sits too far forward or too far backward, or an abnormally shaped or aligned spine (i.e., scoliosis). Additionally, the way your foot is built, such as a super high arch, can cause the foot to supinate too much.

More often than not, however, what we see with supination and other foot problems is irritated nerves in the low back. Back pain may or may not accompany irritated low-back nerves, so just because you don’t have back pain with supination doesn’t mean a nerve issue should be ruled out. How in the world can the nerves all the way up in the back have anything to do with why your shoes wear faster on outside edge of the foot?

The nerves in the low back supply the muscles in your leg and those muscles actually help to control how your foot hits the ground. So if there’s no irritation, those muscles balance the foot; if there is nerve irritation, even slight weakness on one side of the foot can change the strength of the muscles that keep the foot balanced, creating strange angles to the foot as it hits the ground.

How to Treat Supination

If your shoes wear faster on outside of the heel, and you know there is no congenital condition that would cause your feet to supinate, this may be a good indication that you have irritated nerves in the low back that should be treated before they cause more damage. If it isn’t a nerve issue, many times you can strengthen these lower-limb muscles on devices like a BAPS board or use orthotics, and that can really help relieve pressure on the foot, knee, and other joints. However, if you have or develop back issues, or if you just can’t treat and correct your supination conservatively, an X-ray–guided injection of platelet growth factors around the specific irritated nerves can be a good solution.

The upshot? Pay attention to those shoes wearing out more on the outside! This may mean that you have irritated nerves in the low back that are impacting how your foot hits the ground. If so, then there are things you can do to help!

    *DISCLAIMER: Like all medical procedures, Regenexx® Procedures have a success and failure rate. Patient reviews and testimonials on this site should not be interpreted as a statement on the effectiveness of our treatments for anyone else.
    Providers listed on the Regenexx website are for informational purposes only and are not a recommendation from Regenexx for a specific provider or a guarantee of the outcome of any treatment you receive.

    comments

    Larry Rhoden says

    I have had a total knee replacement performed by the V A as my knee was injured while on active duty. This proceedure was perfomed 27 months ago and I still have knee pain, in fact my pain is worse sometimes than before the replacemet. I am 69 yers old.

    3 months ago I was walking on a concrete walkway when I came to a 6inch drop to another walkway. I lead off with my replaced knee and it gave out. I fell on my left side, fracturing my left hip and left femur which required emergency surgery. A bilt was inserted into my hip joint and a nail was inserted from the top of my hip down to my knee prosthectic. I am healing normally from my hip injury according to my surgeon but the pain in my knee is inhibiting my rehabilitation. The knee hurts more now than prior to my hip injury. I have had a Catscan and bone scan of my knee but ny surgeon can not find any issues with the kneee prosthetic. In 2009 I had an accident and my T-12 vertabre incured a 37 % compression fracture. A Kypoplasty proceedure was inferred but the spinal specialist felt that this proceedure was too risky. I have somehow managed to overcome any noticeable side affects in my back where I don't experience any pain other than when I sleep more than 7 hours. Could my knee pain be assoc iated with mh spinal injury. The VA orthopedic surgeon diagnosed me with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. Problem is my knee has and continues to swell and is warm to the touch every since my knee replacement. I can not see where the diagnosis by the ortho surgeon is correct as the swelling and warm temp would not be something associated with Reflex Sympathetic Distrophy. Is there any hope for me?

    replies

    Chris Centeno says

    Larry,

    Yes, low back issues can and do cause knee pain. In these cases knee replacement doesn't help the knee pain as the pain was never from the knee. With regard to RSD, I would need to perform an exam to comment further. Please see: https://www.regenexx.com/knee-replacement-outcomes-back-pain/

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    Richard says

    Can it work in reverse where wearing wrong shoes that wear on the outside can cause lower back pain? Piriformis etc

    replies

    Chris Centeno says

    Richard,
    Orthotics to address the issue can help. If they don't, treatment is needed.

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    Donald says

    Ive been to two podiatrist and one orthopedic doctor for my sypination. The two podiatrist were no help and the orthopedic doctor seems confounded. I had xrays at his office. He told me I had no broke bones but that he wanted a Ctscan to look better. I can tell him there are no broken bones. I tried to explain to him it feels like the muscles in my calf and foot are tight and I think the muscles are causing the problem BUT I am not a doctor.

    What would you suggest. I am not able to work because of my foot and I want to work. Please tell me there is hope.

    Thanks

    replies

    Regenexx Team says

    Hi Davis,
    If conservative treatment like custom orthotics and physical therapy has failed, looking into low back issues would be next, as the nerves that control how your foot hits the ground are there. An MRI of your low back would be more valuable than a Cat Scan. We treat these kind of low back issues regularly. If you'd like to see if we can help, please click on the "Get Started" button here: https://www.regenexx.com/conditions-treated/spine/

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    About the Author

    Chris Centeno

    Christopher J. Centeno, M.D. is an international expert and specialist in regenerative medicine and the clinical use of mesenchymal stem cells in orthopedics. He is board certified in physical medicine as well as rehabilitation and in pain management through The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.…

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