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Shoe Lacing Techniques for Runners – Happy Feet for Miles and Miles

Posted Oct 09 2012 10:16am

Yes, this is my pile of running shoes for the last year. As you can see, I’m not particularly brand loyal but I have been regrettably faithful in one thing, wearing my shoes laced up exactly the way they came out of the box. I was wondering why my feet hurt a bit. Not hurt so much biomechanically, but hurt more in the little aches and pains way of being rubbed wrong. We all know that over time, this sort of irritation has beastly byproducts – namely callouses, blisters and toenail troubles.  Of course, before you try any of these lacing techniques below, you need to get a proper evaluation of your foot and the right shoe suggestion from a decent running store that knows of what they speak. But, even geared up with a shoe that meets the needs of your foot shape and running style, there can still be nagging issues. Who knew feet could be so happy with just some simple re-lacing solutions?

“Stop Heel Slip” Lacing Solution

I get heel slip frequently, usually because I decide against better judgment that I just absolutely have to put myself in a men’s shoe because it looks cooler than the women’s model. Or, sometimes that women’s shoe is actually running large in the heel counter. Also, the size of my feet are slightly mismatched (a common problem), making the smaller one more prone to slippage.

You can stop heel slip by creating a more secure fit around the ankle without tightening the entire shoe. What you do is lace shoes in a traditional crisscross fashion up until the last eyelet on each side. Then, draw the shoelace straight up and down through the last eyelet, in the process creating a loop the diameter of your pinky finger. Do the same thing on other side. Cross lace ends over the top of shoe and thread each through the opposite loop. Finally cinch to the appropriate tension, tie and run! The loops allow the tightening to stay around the ankle without affecting the tightness up the entire length of the tongue.

“Keep Big Toenail from Turning Black” Lacing Solution

Some might think losing your big toenail is a rite of passage for a marathoner or other endurance athlete. Not only is the problem unsightly; in my experience, the toenail grows back in all malformed and funky. At least I’m a girl and can keep my toenails polished! This problem is caused by running downhill, feet swelling during a long run and also by a mismatched foot size that won’t allow you to get a balanced fit on running shoes unless you’re willing to buy two pairs. I’ve seen plenty of marathon martyrs with blood seeping through the toe box area and I’ve also seen creative folks who have just gone ahead and cut out a little peep hole for their big to stick through!

Thank goodness, proper lacing can lift the shoe upper off your distressed digit and help prevent all of this awfulness. To get relief, thread one end of your shoelace through the eyelet next to your hurting big toe. Pull the end of that lace up to the last eyelet on the opposite side, bringing the lace through to the outside and leaving enough slack to tie off a bow eventually. It looks weird but don’t worry. Take the rest of the lace straight across toward the outside of the shoe and then diagonally up toward the inside of the shoe. Repeat until all of the eyelets are laced. Now when you pull on the outside lace, it lifts the material above your big toe up and off your nail.

“Stop Top-of-Foot Claustrophobia” Lacing Solution

Runners with high arches (like moi) often complain that the top of their foot feels too cramped inside the shoe. In fact, after wearing my shoes for more than an hour of running or anytime just out-and- about, I start to get that terrible feeling of claustrophobia and that I need to rip off my shoes immediately. Sometimes, I feel like my feet are even going numb. However, I was so excited to find out that I can improve both my physical foot and mental states by using parallel lacing.

This technique secures the foot without putting pressure on the top and even looks quite tidy. Start by lacing the first two eyelets on the big-toe side of the tongue (not the first eyelet on either side of the tongue like you normally would). Pull shoelace from first eyelet straight across to the first eyelet on the other side and push it down through eyelet. Now, pull lace straight up the side, skipping over one eyelet, and thread it through the third eyelet. Pull it directly across the tongue again, and push it through the third eyelet on the opposite side. Repeat until all eyelets are laced and tie off in a bow.

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