Wednesday, February 1, 2012

There's more than one way to lace a shoe

Most runners pay considerable attention to shoe choice but give little regard to the lacing pattern, defaulting to the factory-installed criss-cross lacing. There are alternative ways to lace up to reduce slippage and to improve the coupling between foot and shoe – which is important to make the most of the shoe’s cushioning and support features (Hagen, 2008). You may have noticed that running shoes often have an additional unused eyelet at the top of the shoe. It can be used for Lock Lacing to reduce heel slide and provide a more comfortable fit. A lacing change may also relieve some types of foot stress and pain.

I use lock lacing on some of my shoes. I first learned about it at our local running shop and find it works well even with the stretchy Xtenex laces (see my review here) that I use in nearly all of my athletic shoes.

For a comprehensive guide to lacing options see Ian’s Shoelace Site, and the Functional Considerations chart on the The Lacing Comparison page. It matches shoe fit issues with lacing suggestions. New Balance also provides remedial lacing patterns for issues like heel slip, high arches, top-of-foot pain, and a wide forefoot/narrow heel.

Hagen, M. (2008) The influence of different shoe lacing conditions on plantar pressure distribution, shock attenuation and rearfoot motion in running. Clinical Biomechanics.23(5), 673.