Running Shoe Lacing Techniques

4 Oct

When most runners purchase their running shoes from a specialty running store (You are not still shopping at those big box sporting goods stores, are you?) they are already cross-laced and ready to go. Or are they? Did you know there are different ways that you can lace your shoes to make them more comfortable or to help customize your shoes for your feet? Here are some of the more common shoe lacing patterns that help combat some common shoe issues. I tried to find the brightest shoe laces on the brightest pair of shoes I own so that you could see easier.

First, let’s cover the LOOP LACING LOCK. This technique can be used in a number of different lacing patterns to insure a tight and snug fit anywhere along the eye row of your shoe, depending on where your laces seem to be slipping.

In this example, I have put the loop lacing lock at the top of the shoe. The shoe was cross-laced as usual to the top of the shoe. To accomplish the loop lacing lock, put each lace end back into the same hole it just exited, leaving a small loop on each side.

Then thread each loose end through the loop on the opposite side of the shoe.

Pull tight to make loops smaller. Then tie shoe as usual.

PROBLEM: High Instep
Near the toe of the shoe, start lacing with the cross-lacing technique. Once you get to the middle of the shoe, thread the laces up the sides of the eye row, leaving room. Continue cross-lacing at the top of the shoe and tie at the top as usual. This will give your foot room in the midfoot area and help keep the shoe from feeling to tight across the arch of the foot.

PROBLEM: Wide Forefoot
From the bottom of the eye row, lace up the sides of the shoe. Once you get to the middle of the shoe (midfoot), start the cross-lacing technique and continue on to the top of the shoe. Tie shoe at the top, as usual. This will give your foot plenty of room to spread or allow your toes to splay while running.

PROBLEM: Narrow Foot
To help a shoe fit more snugly on a narrow foot, you might want to try adding a loop lacing lock in the middle of the eye row. To accomplish this, cross-lace the shoe as normal up to the midfoot, add a loop lacing lock, and then continue cross-lacing the shoe to the top. Tie the shoe at the top, as usual. Doing this will double the amount of laces across your midfoot, ensuring a snug fit.


PROBLEM: Heel Slipping
There are two good ways of keeping a shoe from slipping on the heel. The first way is to put a loop lacing lock at the top of the shoe (shown in the beginning of the post) and tie shoe as usual. Another way is to use a modified loop lacing lock, called a “runner’s tie.” To accomplish the runner’s tie, cross-lace the shoe until the second to last top hole and then lace up each side of the eye row. Take each loose lace end and thread it back under the side lace of the opposite side. Tie the shoe at the top, as usual.

PROBLEM: Shoe Feels Too Tight
To give your shoe an overall roomier feel, try the parallel lacing technique. To start, lace the first tow eyelets near the toe of the shoe. On one side, pull the lace up through the first eyelet and then straight across the shoe and into the eyelet directly across from it. On the other side, skip the first eyelet and pull the lace up through the second eyelet and then lace it into the eyelet straight across from it. Repeat this skipping an eyelet and lacing across pattern until the shoe is laced to the top. This lacing technique is a little tricky, so here is a link to a video that might help.

PROBLEM: Black Toenails
To accomplish this threading technique, start by threading one end of the shoe lace through the eyelet at the top of the shoe on the opposite side of your big toe. Leave enough lace length to tie the shoe. Lace the rest of the shoe lace through the eyelet closest to your big toe, creating a diagonal lace down the length of the shoe. Lace this long length of shoe lace straight across toward the outside of the shoe and then diagonally up toward the inside of the shoe. Repeat this lacing pattern until the shoe is laced to the top. Tie the shoe, as usual. Lacing the shoe this way allows the material above your big toe to be pulled up and off of the nail when the outside lace is tugged and tied tightly.

These are just a few alternative lacing techniques that may help solve some common runner’s shoe fit issues. I hope this has been helpful for you!

Have you ever tried any alternative running shoe lacing patterns? What issues with your shoe were you trying to resolve?

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41 Responses to “Running Shoe Lacing Techniques”

  1. karenjanos October 4, 2011 at 11:28 AM #

    I had no idea about these lacing techniques. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Michelle Kreifels October 4, 2011 at 11:31 AM #

    Thank you for this post! On my last run my feet were falling asleep. My running buddies encouraged me to re-lace my shoes and it made all the difference. I do have to skip a whole because of the large veins on the top of my feet.

    I LOVE these shoes! I have a pair.

    • Maggie October 2, 2012 at 8:16 PM #

      Which technique did you try? My feet fall asleep every time I go running

      • katieRUNSthis October 3, 2012 at 1:36 PM #

        At different points, I have used different ones at different times, depending on how my feet/lower legs were feeling.

  3. ~K~ October 4, 2011 at 1:14 PM #

    hey, great tips!

  4. Allyson (@SuperRunnerMom) October 4, 2011 at 1:45 PM #

    Ooooh. I really, really like this. Very helpful! Thanks!

  5. Kevin October 4, 2011 at 3:00 PM #

    Very very very useful. I only knew one additional way to tie my shoe if I didnt like the way it came in the (non-big box retailer) shoe box. Thanks! Good stuff.

  6. Amy Potter (@hellomisspotter) October 4, 2011 at 5:08 PM #

    Super helpful, got some new tricks to try now. Thank for the great post, Katie!

  7. anna October 4, 2011 at 8:59 PM #

    I just wanted to comment and say I’m so happy to see another pregnant runner. I’m 29 weeks myself and still running/racing, and it’s definitely kept me sane during this pregnancy… in spite of some weird looks and concerned comments from caring folks. Anyway, love your blog!! Thanks for the inspiration to keep going!

  8. Katie Heddleston October 4, 2011 at 9:01 PM #

    I’m pretty sure I do the first one you showed– but I got a little confused once I saw more options lol. The guy at the running store taught me it :)

  9. Cynthia Michener November 4, 2011 at 9:22 PM #

    Oh.. i am so happy to find your lacing technique!!! had no idea!! thank you… Now off to make my laces right for my narrow feet! :o)))

  10. facebook.com/easbrand July 19, 2012 at 1:45 PM #

    Love this post! Thanks for sharing ~Morgen @EAS

  11. Nicole July 19, 2012 at 4:52 PM #

    When I first starting running I was having problems with tingling/burning on the top of my foot while running. I laced my shoes backwards (starting at the top and tying at the bottom) and that immediately helped. I love these suggestions and have moved on to the “wide forefoot” technique to take pressure off my big toe joint~my newest running problem!

  12. Devon September 28, 2012 at 11:26 PM #

    Would love to figure out a way to get rid of the string ends after you tie the shoe laces.

    • katieRUNSthis October 3, 2012 at 1:38 PM #

      Can you clarify for me? The “string ends?” Are you asking how to keep the ends or your laces from fraying if the plastic cap ends have cracked or fallen off?

  13. strawberry October 9, 2012 at 10:34 AM #

    I just pulled my new shoes out of the box. When I put them on, even with the laces loosened, they felt so tight. I thought I might have to send them back. I relaced for a wide foot.what a difference! Thanks for saving my shoes and my feet.

  14. Kendall Willie March 25, 2013 at 6:57 PM #

    I’ve always said tennis shoes were the least comfortable
    shoes EVER because I have the worst high instep. I’d rather wear
    heels over tennis shoes any day. But with this lacing technique it
    definitely helps a LOT. Thank you so much!

  15. Julie March 26, 2013 at 7:44 PM #

    Tried the black toenail lacing technique for my non-slip
    restaurant shoes. My big toes were starting to bruise from working
    12 hour shifts at my new job. As soon as I re-laced them, I
    instantly noticed a difference. My feet thank you!

  16. Barb Hoyer (@FrugalKitchen) March 30, 2013 at 7:23 AM #

    I love this! I just started using a different lacing
    pattern recently though mine is pretty simple. I found I had to
    stop lacing at the next to last set of holes at the top of the
    shoe. Otherwise it was too tight across the top of my foot and made
    me more prone to shin splints.

  17. pricelessyona April 11, 2013 at 10:04 PM #

    Oh woooow…this is incredibly helpful. I was just thinking
    of ways to make my new running shoes feel more comfortable and it
    never dawned on me that the shoelaces could remedy so many
    different sneaker issues. THANKS!

  18. Lauren L April 16, 2013 at 10:06 PM #

    I started running in highschool and my coach introduced me
    to lacing my shoes to prevent my heels from slipping. I’ve been
    using that technique ever since, until this year. As my old pair of
    running shoes started to wear out I grabbed a new pair and knew I
    needed to try something new with my laces. My feet would go numb
    and felt like bricks, my calves would tighten up (and stay that
    way), and my knees were aching. I tried lacing for the high arch
    and it has helped tremendously! I can’t thank you enough for this
    post! I am a teacher with two jobs and I know I will need to invest
    in a quality pair of running shoes ASAP, but at the time I bought
    my most recent pair, my budget was tight. Lacing has saved my feet
    (and legs) from serious pain and discomfort until I get my new
    pair. Ive shared this post with many of my running friends. Thank
    you thank you!

  19. Julie May 4, 2013 at 12:55 AM #

    Thank you so much for these great tips! I did a post on my
    pinterest journey blog linking back to you. Thanks again! I look
    forward to reading more of your blog as I am new to
    running.

  20. Kelly @ IdealistMom.com May 17, 2013 at 7:14 AM #

    This is so awesome! I have a wide forefoot, and this is the
    first time I’ve ever seen a trick like this. I always just thought
    I had to loosen the laces up top, but it never felt right. Pinning
    this now!

  21. kellyholmes May 17, 2013 at 7:15 AM #

    This is so awesome! I have a wide forefoot, and this is the
    first time I’ve ever seen a trick like this. I always just thought
    I had to loosen the laces up top, but it never felt right. Pinning
    this now!

  22. Lydia PutaBirdonit Crandall May 18, 2013 at 12:21 PM #

    I tried the lacing for narrow feet today. That’s
    incredible! I will always lace my shoes this way! Thank
    you!

  23. Ferne Oyster May 22, 2013 at 10:12 AM #

    thank you for the post! i actually have made a “new” one. i
    use a combo of wide forefoot and high instep. i danced ballet for
    years and it can defiantly warp your feet, they look normal now but
    shoes can be a problem. now my shoes feel like they were made just
    for my feet :)

    • katieRUNSthis June 6, 2013 at 5:43 AM #

      Good for you for developing a technique that works for you! Please email me a pic and I’ll add it to this post! :)

  24. Paul May 24, 2013 at 9:42 AM #

    Thanks for this post! awesome stuff. although I am not your
    typical runner, I do like to do sprint type training like HIIT and
    Hill Sprints. I find that when I run (sprint) on paved surfaces I
    develop soreness in my heals and to the outer aspects of my feet.
    do you know of any ways of lacing your shoes to help with this? I
    know I also have lower arched as well. Thanks Paul

  25. JoaTend May 26, 2013 at 9:27 PM #

    I came across this via Pinterest. I’m not a runner, but all
    the same, I tried the high-instep lace technique on my walking
    shoes, and it made a huge difference in even my short walk to
    work.

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