Wear Patterns Examining old shoes before buying new ones can help you evaluate your wear patterns and buy new shoes with a better fit and style that compensates for the stresses you place on shoes. What are your shoes trying to tell you? Here is a translation of basic wear patterns: A bulge and wear to the side of the big toe means too-narrow fit or you have a bunion. Outer sole wear means you turn your foot out. Orthotics may help. Toe-shaped ridges on the upper means your shoes are too small or you have hammertoes. Wear on the ball of the foot means your heel tendons may be too tight. Wear on the inner sole means you pronate or turn your foot inward. Inner liners or orthotics may help. Wear on the upper, above the toes means the front of your shoe is too low.