Why Do My Shoes Wear Faster on the Outside? - Regenexx®

Why Do My Shoes Wear Faster on the Outside?

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.
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  1. 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?

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