How to Lace Your Shoes for the Right Fit

Avoid heel slippage and reduce risks of blisters and black toenails

Shoe lacing techniques can help with shoe fit problems. Simple changes in how you lace your sneakers can help if you have a wide foot, narrow heel, wide instep, narrow foot, or if your heel slips in and out of your shoe.

Changing your lacing pattern will affect the fit of the shoe, so use caution after making a change. See how it feels while wearing the shoes for just 10 or 15 minutes. Build up your time spent walking or running with the new lacing pattern.

1

Lacing Technique to Prevent Heel Slippage

Shoelacing technique to avoid heel slippage
Wendy Bumgardner ©

To keep your heel in the heel cup of the shoe, lace your sneakers to form a lace lock at the top of your shoe, also called a runner's loop. This will allow you to tie the shoe tightly at the top without narrowing the fit for the rest of the shoe.

  1. Lace up from the bottom of the next-to-last eyelet.
  2. Then lace over and down through the top eyelet on the same side to form a "bunny ear."
  3. Do the same for the other side.
  4. Now lace through the opposite "bunny ear" you formed between those two eyelets.
  5. Now when you tie your shoe, you can get a good tight fit at the ankle but keep it loose over the rest of the top of the foot.

This way of tying your shoes is very important in preventing black toenails when you walk or run, especially when going downhill. A black toenail can happen when your toes bang against the toebox if your foot can slip forward in your shoe. This technique may also help prevent blisters that can develop from the friction caused by too much foot movement within the shoe.

2

Shoe Lacing Technique for a Narrow Foot

Shoelacing Technique for a Narrow Foot
Wendy Bumgardner ©

Use this lacing pattern for a narrow foot. If your sneakers have two sets of eyelets on each side, lace through the ones farthest from the tongue. This will draw the two sides of the shoe together more snugly.

If that is not enough, then use the "lace lock" as with the heel slippage, only between the second and third eyelet. This keeps the laces from loosening.

  1. Lace down through the next eyelet on the same side to form a "bunny ear."
  2. Do the same for the other side.
  3. Now lace through the opposite "bunny ear" you formed between those two eyelets.
  4. Continue lacing diagonally. You will have formed a lace lock.

Now wear the shoes with this new lacing pattern for just 10 to 15 minutes of walking at first. Loosen or tighten the laces as needed.

3

Shoe Lacing Technique for a Wide Foot and High Instep

Shoelacing Technique for Wide Foot
Wendy Bumgardner ©

Use this lacing pattern for a wide foot and a high instep. If the shoe has two sets of eyelets on each side, lace through the set closest to the tongue.

For more room, use the window lacing technique. This will allow space for expansion, and tightening the laces won't over-tighten the fit across your instep.

  1. From the bottom, lace up through the first eyelets.
  2. Cross the laces over and lace down through the second eyelets.
  3. Don't cross over, lace up through the third set of eyelets on the same side.
  4. Crossover and lace down through the fourth set of eyelets.
  5. Don't cross over, lace up through the fifth set of eyelets on the same side.
  6. Crossover and lace up through the sixth set of eyelets.
  7. Continue until you have used all of the eyelets you wish to use, then tie your bow.

Wear the shoes for 10 to 15 minutes at first to adjust to the new lacing pattern.

4

Shoe Lacing Techniques for a Narrow Heel and Wide Forefoot

Two Shoelacing Techniques for Narrow Heel and Wide Forefoot
Wendy Bumgardner ©

If you have a narrow heel and a wide forefoot, you are probably always frustrated. When the heel fits, the forefoot is too narrow, if the forefoot fits, the heel slips around.

Solution 1: Use two sets of laces. You should buy two shorter laces and lace the bottom three eyelets with one lace and the top eyelets with another lace. Then you will be able to adjust the width and tension for each set of laces.

The drawback is that you have two chances having your shoelaces come untied for each foot. You can probably do a permanent knot for the lower set of laces, or use a lace keeper solution to keep them tied.

Solution 2: Use a combination of the wide forefoot window lacing technique and the narrow heel lace lock technique.

  1. From the bottom, lace up through the first eyelets.
  2. Cross the laces over and lace down through the second eyelets.
  3. Don't cross over, lace up through the third set of eyelets.
  4. Crossover and lace down through the fourth set of eyelets.
  5. Don't cross over, lace up through the fifth set of eyelets
  6. Crossover and lace up through the sixth set of eyelets.
  7. Don't cross over, lace down through the seventh set of eyelets, forming a "bunny ear"
  8. Now lace through the opposite "bunny ear" you formed between those two eyelets.

Now when you tie your shoe, you can get a good tight fit at the ankle but keep it loose over the rest of the top of the foot.

Changing your lacing pattern will affect the fit of the shoes, so it's best to wear the shoes for shorter periods and shorter distances at first until you have adjusted to the new fit and feel.

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