How to Lace Your Shoes

How to Lace Your Shoes for the Best Fit

Runner tying shoelaces

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Shoe lacing techniques can help with shoe fit problems. Simple changes in how you lace your shoes 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 shoe's fit, so use caution after making a change. After making a change, see how it feels while wearing the shoes first for just 10 or 15 minutes and adjust the tension as needed.

Build up your time spent walking or running with the new lacing pattern before you wear them for an extended time.

Lace Shoes to Prevent Slippage

To keep your heel in the shoe's heel cup, 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 great for preventing black toenails when you walk or run, especially when going downhill. If your foot can slip forward in the shoe, your toes can bang against the toebox and bruise your toenails.

This technique of lacing up from the bottom may also help prevent blisters that can develop from the friction caused by too much foot movement within the shoe.

Lace Shoes on Narrow Foot

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, use the "lace lock" as with the heel slippage, only between the second and third eyelets. 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.

Walk around for a few minutes. Loosen or tighten the laces as needed.

Research has shown that using a seven-eyelet "heel lock" technique can keep shoelaces tight and promote stability. Even more importantly, this technique can reduce the risk of injury.

Lacing With Wide Feet and a High Instep

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. Cross over 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. Cross over 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 briefly and adjust the tension of the laces for comfort.

Lacing With Narrow Heels and Wide Forefeet

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 to this method is that you have two chances of 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.

How to Choose the Right Shoe Lacing Technique

Finding out which shoe lacing technique is right for you may require some experimentation and trial and error. Try going to a running store for a foot analysis and shoe fitting first. The fitting can help you determine if you have wide or narrow feet, a high instep, wide forefeet, or narrow heels, which can help you determine the lacing technique you should try.

No matter the technique you use, be sure to keep shoes laced tightly and double-knotted to ensure they don't come untied mid-workout. Keeping your shoes laced tight (but not too tight) can help reduce the impact load on your feet, reducing the risk of injury.

Frequently Asked Questions

How should you lace running shoes?

The technique you should use to lace your running shoes depends on if you have a wide or narrow foot, a narrow heel, a high instep, or if your heel slips in and out of your shoe.

How do you lace running shoes to prevent numb toes?

Use a runner's loop to form a lace lock at the top of your shoes. This technique will keep your heel from moving around in your shoe and prevent numb toes.

How do you lace shoes to prevent heel slippage?

Prevent heel slippage by forming a lace lock at the top of your shoes with a runner's loop.

A Word From Verywell

When it comes to walking or running comfortably, having the right shoe fit and shoe lacing technique makes all the difference. Take the time to assess your feet before buying new shoes or changing the way you lace your shoes. It's important to learn how to lace up shoes for your feet. You'll find that you can walk or run longer, won't get tired as quickly, and will be less prone to injuries. As an added bonus, you'll also be able to avoid black toenails, heel slippage, and painful blisters.

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Article 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. Hagen M, Hömme A-K, Umlauf T, Hennig EM. Effects of different shoe-lacing patterns on dorsal pressure distribution during running and perceived comfort. Res Sports Med. 2010;18(3):176-187. doi:10.1080/15438627.2010.490180

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