Do Running Shoes Have a Shelf Life? – When Do Unworn Sneakers Expire

Shelf Life of Running Sneakers

Running shoes are designed to handle your body weight’s shock created by the impact each time your foot hits the ground. They also provide traction on different surfaces, support your feet, and cushion the landing shock.

Sadly, you can’t wear the same running sneakers forever. They are made of materials that usually deteriorate after several miles.

But what about running shoes that you haven’t worn yet?

When they are on sale or if the shoe maker updates or discontinues this shoe type, some runners purchase multiple pairs of their preferred running shoes.

So, do running shoes have a shelf life?

The short answer is: Yes.

Unworn running shoes will start to break down after some time, so it won’t be a good idea to depend on them for your running routine.

How Do Unworn Running Shoes Deteriorate?

Most running shoes come with a foam midsole that provides a springy feel and absorbs shock impact and a rubber outsole that provides durability and grips pavement. Sadly, the midsole and outsole don’t last forever; they will eventually deteriorate, even if the shoe is unused.
If the shoes have been unworn for a while, the midsole will start to crumble and decrease the impact absorption rate. The decreased shock absorption might also bring-in injuries to some runners.

The midsole and outsole are not only the shoe parts that will start to break down, but the upper of the running shoes may also deteriorate. If your shoes are kept on a shelf for a long time, the moisture in the air causes the glue that attaches the upper to the midsole to loosen. The upper threading might also loosen, especially around the edges.

When do Unworn Running Shoes Expire?

When will Unworn Running Shoes Begin to Break Down?

While sneakers won’t begin to degrade immediately after purchasing them, you should start to put them on six to 12 months after your buy. This is when they begin to malfunction little by little.
It might not mean they’re totally unusable, but they won’t feel as cushioned as the new pair of the same shoe.

The running shoes will start to feel stiffer; rather than the shoe taking on the impact, your feet, knees, hips, back, and legs are now absorbing greater force. The runner will start to experience new pains and aches without any increase in training volume.

Related article: Find out The Quality Running Shoes

Most producers suggest wearing their running shoes for about 300-600 miles. With a pair of older unworn shoes, You’ll have just 200-300 miles without increasing your risk of injury. You might be able to wear them for 400-500 miles, but your injury risk will surely increase because the materials are already deteriorating, especially the outsole, which usually wears out faster.

How to Make Your Unworn Shoes Last Longer

If you have a pair of running shoes that you are not planning to wear soon, you should keep them in a climate-controlled environment. It is a good idea to maintain your running sneakers indoors, whether they’re new or old.

Proper Running Shoe Storage

Heat, humidity, and air greatly influence your stored shoe deterioration rate. If you store your running shoes in a plastic vacuum bag with no air circulation, you can save your unworn running shoes for a long time (maybe years) without losing their efficiency.
If you want to purchase an older model of shoes on sale, it is suggested to do so within two to three months from when the newer model is presented.

Read more: top ways to prevent heel slippage in running shoes


Running shoes have a shelf life; the midsole breaks down over time and loses its bounce when they are on a shelf. Synthetic materials in shoe structures can degrade in the closet, even if they are not being worn. It doesn’t mean that you can’t use them later; it just means that their efficiency has decreased, and you may not get the maximum benefits from them.

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