When you’re running comfortably, you probably don’t put a lot of thought into your shoelaces. For most of us, we do some bunny ears or loops and we’re good to go. But, did you know that the way you tie your shoes can make a big difference in the way you run? In fact, if you use proper lacing techniques, you can actually avoid these five common runner’s complaints. Read on for a step-by-step guide to proper lacing techniques for runners.
1. For Runner’s with Heel Blisters
If you’re getting blisters on your heels when you run, there’s a good chance the heels of your sneakers are slipping. To correct this problem, you can try a lacing method that squeezes the back of your heel.
To get started, lace your shoes normally, then unlace the top two eyelets (the extra eyelet on top of your shoe and the one just beneath it. Next, skip the eyelet that's second to the top, and weave the laces normally through the top extra eyelet instead, pulling toward the outside of your shoe. Finally, tie your shoes in your typical fashion.
2. If There’s Pressure on the Tops of Your Feet
This is a common complaint for runners with high archers or high insteps (when the top of your foot is higher in the middle and close to your ankle). To reduce pressure, you’ll want to use a lacing technique that makes your shoe roomier in the middle of your foot.
To begin, unlace the top three or four eyelets, leaving laces in only the bottom two or three eyelets of your shoe. Next, weave your right laces on the right-side eyelets, and your left laces on the left eyelets. Move your way towards the inside of your shoe.
3. When Bunions are an Issue
If you have a wide foot or are dealing with a bunion, you’ll need to lace your shoes in a way that gives your more room in your toebox. To add width, unlace your shoe so that the lace is only threaded through the bottom left and right eyelets. Now, weave the end of your right shoelace through the eyelet right above it, moving towards the outside of your shoe. Repeat with one eyelet on your left side. Moving back to the right side, pull your shoelace through the eyelet above it one more time, but move towards the inside of your shoe with this hole. Repeat this move on the left side, then lace the rest of the shoe normally.
4. If your Whole Foot is Wide
Of course, runners with wide feet can always invest in wide sneakers (New Balance and other major brands offer a great selection of wide styles) but until you make that leap, there are lacing methods that can help make normal-width shoes feel more comfortable.
When wide feet are the problem, start by unlacing your shoes all the way to the bottom. Then, lace your shoes normally, but don’t weave through the eyelets that are second-from-the-bottom on your shoe. Keep going as you normally would, but only use every other eyelet as you go along. This will leave you with a little extra room throughout your entire shoe.
5. To Beat Black Toenails
Black toenails are one of the ugliest (and most common) problems that runners must face. Long distance runs, or runs in short, tight shoes can put pressure on your toenails. Over time, that pressure can bruise or damage the nails, leaving you with this unsightly condition. But don’t worry: there’s a lacing style that can take the pressure off your toes, at least until you can invest in a better-fitting pair of kicks.
To begin, completely remove your shoelaces. Next, weave one end of the shoelace into the bottom eyelet (the one that’s closest to your big toe.) Pull the shoelace diagonally and through the top eyelet on the opposite side of your shoe, moving toward its outer edge. Now, take the other shoelace end and pull it through your bottom eyelet, moving towards the inside of your shoe this time. Pull that lace diagonally across your shoe and into the next opposite eyelet, still moving towards the inside of your footwear. Bring the shoelace straight back to the eyelet directly across, weaving it through toward the inside of the shoe. Now, move diagonally again, crossing your lace back over and through the next open eyelet, pulling towards the outside of the shoe. Keep going until you reach the top unoccupied eyelet, then tie up the two ends.
While proper lacing can alleviate a lot of runner’s complaints, there’s no replacement for proper foot care. If it typically hurts when you run, it’s time to get your gait checked out with your Elmhurst running doctors.