8 Ways To Lace Running Shoes To Reduce Pain and Improve Fit

When you pull a new pair of running shoes out of the box, chances are you don’t think too much about the laces. But the how you lace running shoes can make all the difference.

It not only impacts your general comfort, but simple alterations in lacing patterns may frequently fix common problems such as heel slippage and blisters. Before you jump in to a new pair of shoes, see if the lacing style doesn’t change the way they fit.

Because foot types and running forms differ, there are a range of lacing methods designed specifically for runners.

No matter what kind of runner you are or the shoe you’re wearing, these lacing techniques can help with some common problems runners face as well as different types of feet.

In this article, we’ll be discussing the 8 different styles of lacing styles you can use and which problem or foot type they’re suitable for.

Making Sure Your Shoes Fit Well

First we need to ensure that your shoes fit well and aren’t the cause of any of the issues you’re experiencing.

When it comes to running shoes, you want adequate space between your toes and the front of the shoes (approximately a thumb’s width). This is to make sure your shoe isn’t too small.

If your shoes are too small, you may develop bruised or black toenails, as well as blisters.

  • You should have enough space between your toes and your running shoes to wriggle and spread your toes widely when running.
  • If you’ve learned that you have wider feet than the average person, look for shoes that feature a wide-fit option.
  • Ensure that your shoes aren’t too big or too loose, and that your feet don’t slide around when you run.

Shoes should fit snugly yet comfortably around your midfoot and heel, with comfortable cupping at the back of the heel. Another indicator that your shoes are excessively tight is tingling or numbness in the toes while running.

When your shoes are laced up, they should be tight enough that the laces won’t come undone while you’re running, but not so tight that it hurts the top of your foot.

Finally, your running shoes should fit and feel like this:

  1. Snug at the heel and midfoot with a little wiggle room in the toes
  2. Little to no movement while gripping the shoe’s heel and raising your foot
  3. The top eyelets on either side of the tongue should be parallel to one another.
  4. A snug fit that provides comfort while reducing and increasing stability.

Lacing Styles for Common Problems

Here are some lacing styles that can help with some common foot problems and injuries. Remember though, while they may address minor issues they are not an alternative for seeking medical advice, especially if your problem still persists.

1. For Black Toenails or Toenail Pressure

If you frequently experience black toenails or runner’s toe, consider a lacing technique that elevates the toe box, allowing your toes to have more room.

I also used this when I wanted to run on a broken toe! Mine was the pinky toe, so instead of pulling up from the big toe side, I pulled up from the pinky toe side.

This ‘Toe Cap’ lacing technique lifts the toe box and creates more room for your toes.

  1. Begin by lacing diagonally across the shoe from the eyelet at the big toe to the eyelet at the top on the other side.
  2. Make the other lace about 4 inches longer than the one you just laced through and crisscross it across all of the eyelets.
  3. Tie the knot at the end as you would normally.

Lacing for Toe Pain

2. For Heel Slipping and Heel Blisters

A frequent symptom of heel slippage is the development of heel blisters or excessive wear in the fabric of the heel. I use this style of lacing on 90% of my running shoes!

Using a ‘Heel Lock’ form of lacing will prevent your heel from sliding out of the shoe.

It will restrict the amount of up and down movement of your foot makes within the shoe as much as possible. This helps to prevent friction, which causes blisters.

  1. Start by lacing the shoes in the standard crisscross pattern all the way to the second-to-last eyelet.
  2. Without crisscrossing the laces, go straight up into the final hole.
  3. Thread the shoelace through the loop on the other side.
  4. Tie the knot at the end as you would normally.

This technique tightens the circumference of the shoe around the heel, but it can also place undue strain on the tendons on the top of your foot, limiting ankle movement. So if you start feeling pain, then you might need to loosen or leave this style behind.

Heel Lock Lacing

3. For If Your Shoes Feel Too Tight

If you frequently find that your shoes are excessively tight, try lacing them in a ‘Parallel’ or ‘Straight Bar’ method. This will work for those with wide feet or if you find your feet swell during long runs.

This equally distributes the laces which may alleviate food discomfort and is also sometimes referred to as the ‘Lydiard lacing’ technique. It’s a great one to try if your feet feel a bit swollen.

  1. Begin by lacing the shoes parallel by skipping alternative eyelets for each lace and running the lace up the side of the eyelets to relieve strain.
  2. Tie the knot at the end as you would normally.

If changing the lacing technique doesn’t help, check sure your shoes are the proper fit for your foot size, width, and pronation type.

Wide Foot Lacing

4. For Plantar Fasciitis or Arch Support

When it comes to Plantar Fasciitis, lacing can also make a difference. The more eyelets there are on the laces, the better. This gives you more control over how loose or tight different parts of the shoe fit on your foot.

To provide the most support for your heel and arch, loosen the laces around your toes and tighten the laces towards your heel.

  1. Start by only threading the shoelace through the sides.
  2. Begin lacing with a crisscross from the midfoot onward.
  3. Without crisscrossing the laces, go straight up into the final hole.
  4. Thread the shoelace through the loop on the other side.
  5. Tie the knot at the end as you would normally.

Lacing for High Arches

5. For If One Area is Too Tight

If you feel that your shoe feels tight in just one area, you can customize your shoe lacing pattern to accommodate this.

  1. Begin lacing normally with a crisscross pattern.
  2. Only thread the shoelace through the side eyelets in the area where the shoe feels too tight.
  3. Make a crisscross through the last two eyelets.
  4. Tie the knot at the end as you would normally.

Lacing Styles for Different Foot Types

Depending on the type of feet you have, lacing techniques can help a great deal by providing more stability and comfort. Here are 4 lacing styles for different foot types:

6. For a High Instep (Pain on Top of Foot)

A high instep means that the top of your foot is lifted somewhat higher in the center and closer to your ankle. This is also a typical occurrence among people with high arches.

If you have a high instep, wearing shoes may cause pressure or irritation on the tops of your feet.

And so, if you have a high instep or high arches, you can change your lacing to relieve the pressure on your middle section by utilizing the ‘Gap Lacing’ technique.

  1. Begin lacing normally with a crisscross pattern.
  2. Only thread the shoelace through the side eyes in the middle area.
  3. Make a crisscross through the last two eyelets.
  4. Tie the knot at the end as you would normally.

Lacing For Pain on Top of Foot

7. For a Narrow Foot

If you have a narrow foot, you should ensure that the lacing method you choose tightens the shoe. Here’s a method that does just that:

  1. Begin by lacing the shoes normally with a crisscross pattern.
  2. After that, skip one eyelet and thread the lace in a crisscross pattern.
  3. Finally, lace in a standard crisscross design.
  4. Tie the knot at the end as you would normally.

Lacing for Narrow Feet

I’m also a fan of finding shoes that tend to run a bit more narrow like Saucony or Nike.

8. For a Wide Forefoot or Bunions

Try a lacing technique that allows you to have extra space in the toe box if you have a wide forefoot. When running with bunions, it’s really important to give your foot enough space to prevent ongoing pressure and pain during the run.

Lacing running shoes for wide forefeet is similar to the ‘Gap Lacing’ pattern for high arches, except that you don’t start with a crisscross, allowing for additional space towards the toe.

  1. Start by only threading the shoelace through the sides.
  2. Begin lacing with a crisscross from the midfoot onward.
  3. Make a crisscross through the final eyelets to finish.
  4. Tie the knot at the end as you would normally.

This technique of lacing is great for other foot conditions apart from having a wide forefoot or bunions, such as:

  • Morton’s neuroma
  • Bursitis between the metatarsal (forefoot bones)
  • Corns and calls on the 1st and 5th toes

Hopefully the visuals and descriptions for lacing running shoes gave you some ideas to test out.

Looking for more running gear tips?

Other ways to connect with Amanda
Instagram Daily Fun: RunToTheFinish

Facebook Community Chatter: RunToTheFinishRunning_motivation_thumb

Sign Up to Receive a Weekly Newsletter with Top Running Tip

Lacing Running Shoes


Leave a Comment