Inserts for shoes are an excellent way to get the support you need without a custom orthotic constructed by your podiatrist. But even the best shoe inserts don’t last forever. With normal use, you can expect your insoles to last about 6 months, but this varies depending on factors such as intensity of use (i.e., running vs. everyday activities) and foot structure. For serious runners, you may need new insoles every 3-4 months instead.

Here are some signs to keep an eye out for so you’ll know when it’s the right time to replace your insoles:

1. Discoloration. If the general appearance of the inserts is significantly different than when you bought them, that could be a sign that it’s time for a new pair. This could include wearing off the logo on the heel or leaving a visible impression of your foot on the insole.

2. Damage. When you notice tearing or cracking on any part of the insole, you put yourself at risk for blisters on your feet, and your insole will no longer be providing support and cushioning in the proper locations.

3. Unpleasant odor. If you’re on your feet a lot, it’s likely that they sweat. This moisture can collect in inserts for shoes and result in undesirable smells. Disagreeable smells can also indicate the presence of bacteria or fungus, which can lead to foot infections. When replacing insoles due to odor, consider choosing new inserts for shoes that are manufactured with antimicrobial fabric.

4. Compression. Once you become aware that your insole seems flatter than it used to be, it’s past time to upgrade. Especially in the case of plantar fasciitis insoles, losing support greatly reduces the benefits you’re receiving from the inserts. High-quality cushioning foams and supportive materials are durable, but they do break down over time and cease to be effective at preventing injury and foot pain.

Your insoles aren’t something you pay close attention to daily, and wear and tear occurs very gradually. You may not notice a difference day to day, so it’s important to take note of when you purchased your insoles, and you might even want to set a day on the calendar for every couple of months to do a thorough inspection.

Finally, when you do upgrade to new inserts for shoes, remember that they may take some getting used to, especially if you’ve waited too long and your old insoles were extremely worn. Replace your old insoles and find the best shoe inserts for your feet now.