How to Tie Running Shoes for a Snug, Secure Fit

How to tie running shoes

Verywell / Amelia Manley

Running is a popular form of exercise—one you can often do right out your front door, on the treadmill, and even while traveling. Although the sport does not require expensive equipment, you do want to invest in a comfortable pair of running shoes. Proper footwear can make a difference in keeping your feet as injury free as possible.

Another importance consideration is how you lace your running shoes. If you tie the laces too tight, you can cause nerve, tendon, and blood vessel compression on the anterior ankle.

Making sure your shoelaces are secure, but loose enough to allow a finger to slide into the shoe at the ankle is an important consideration when going on a run. For tips on effective—and pain-free—shoelace tying, find out what running experts and peer-reviewed researchers suggest.

Use Seven Eyelets

Lacing up with the traditional six eyelets can be one of the most unstable shoelace patterns, according to a recent systematic review on the role of footwear constructions. Researchers found that six-eyelet lacing led to a higher loading rate and caused heel peak pressure on the foot.

Using seven eyelets allowed runners to improve foot and shoe coupling without increasing pressures on the foot bones located in the rear and mid area. When lacing your running shoes, you may want to consider using all seven eyelets.

Switch to Elastic Laces

Elastic laces allow runners to tie their shoes faster, which is helpful in a triathlon or other multi-sport competition. Also, elastic laces help runners make sure that their shoe is not too tight and causing impingement on nerves or discomfort, says Peter F. Lovato, DPM, FACFAS, a Northern Illinois foot and ankle specialist.

Dr. Lovato recommends making sure the elastic laces are not so loose that you slide around, causing blistering. He also suggests retying your laces every time you put on your shoes to avoid stretching them out.

To tie elastic laces, running specialist and founder of the Lift Physiotherapy and Performance clinic Dane Ford recommends threading the laces through the eyelets on your shoe and tie them in a knot. Once the knot is tied, simply pull the lace ends until they feel snug.

"The knot does not need to be particularly tight," Ford says. "Be sure that the ends of the laces are secured so they do not come undone." 

Use the Runner’s Heel Lock

“One of the best tips for tying your running shoes is the runner’s heel lock,” says Matt Scarfo, NASM-CPT-OPT, CES, PES, FNS, Precision Nutrition Pn1 and running coach.

To create a heal lock, make an additional loop running between the two top holes, which helps you lace your shoes higher and keep your heel firmly in the shoe. This extra loop helps prevent slipping and blistering. It also distributes the force on the laces during each strike, and keeps your shoes from coming undone.

Allow for Give

Peloton instructor Bec Gentry opts for traditional shoelace ties with enough give to allow you to spread your toes wide laterally and raise your arch up a centimeter. This ensures your shoes are comfortable and avoids potential bruising.

“You should not feel the laces or the knot pushing on the top of your foot and your foot rise up and out of the shoe as you take a step," Gentry says.

A Word from Verywell

If the standard way of tying your running shoelaces does not work for you, trying different techniques could improve fit, prevent blisters, and reduce slipping. This includes using all the eyelets, switching to elastic laces, or trying the runner’s heel lock.

Use these methods during training at first and avoid attempting anything new on race day. If you continue to have issues with your shoes, you may benefit from speaking with a professional. Try talking with a running coach or a professional in a running store. If loose shoes have caused a foot injury or if you experience constant, painful blisters, a podiatrist could help mitigate these health issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you tie running shoes with long laces?

    For running shoes with long laces, make sure you use all of the eyelets when lacing up your shoes for the first time. The seven-eyelet technique also improves shoe and foot coupling. To keep any extra lace from dragging, be sure to double or triple knot the laces before you start running.

  • Should running shoes be loose or tight?

    Running shoes should be snug, but make sure you allow enough space for one finger to slide down next to the ankle. This step ensures you did not lace up too tightly. This also will keep you from constricting your bones and nerves. Shoes that are too loose will also have your feet sliding around as you run, and this could cause excessive blistering.

  • How do marathon runners tie their shoes?

    When it comes to tying your shoes for a marathon, it's up to individual preference. Researchers found that runners experience differences in plantar pressure, perceived comfort, and rear foot motion. Try different techniques to figure out what works best for you as you train for a marathon.

2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Vincent K, Vincent H. Seven tips to effective running shoe sizing. Cur Sports Med Reports. 2019;18(11):379. doi:10.1249/JSR.0000000000000645

  2. Sun X, Lam WK, Zhang X, Wang J, Fu W. Systematic review of the role of footwear constructions in running biomechanics: implications for running-related injury and performanceJ Sports Sci Med. 2020;19(1):20-37.

By Jennifer Purdie, M.Ed
Jennifer Purdie, M.Ed, is a certified personal trainer, freelance writer, and author of "Growth Mindset for Athletes, Coaches and Trainers."