Common Shoe Lacing Patterns
Carol Frey, M.D.
Foot and Ankle specialist

shoe lace symbol – illustration for the web

Chances are that you learned how to lace your shoes in kindergarten and haven’t thought about shoe laces since. Given all the differences and idiosyncrasies in feet, one lacing pattern for shoes couldn’t possibly fit the needs of everyone. In fact, certain lacing patterns recent injuries alleviate pain and relieve foot problems. If your shoes aren’t feeling comfortable, you might consider changing the way you lace them. The following are lacing tips from the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society.

Some General Lacing Tips

• Loosen the shoe laces as you slip into the shoes. This prevents unnecessary stress on the eyelets and the backs of the shoes.
• Always begin at the bottom and pull the shoe laces one set of eyelets at a time to tighten. This prevents unnecessary stress on the top eyelets and provides for a more comfortable shoe fit.
• When buying shoes, remember that those with a large number of eyelets will make it easier to adjust the shoe laces for a custom fit.
• The conventional method of lacing, criss-cross to the top of the shoe, works best fot the majority of athletes.

Seven Shoe Lacing Patterns

The following seven lacing patterns alleviate some common foot discomforts.

Narrow Feet
If you have narrow feet, consider using the eyelets set wider apart on the shoe. (See Figure A.) This will bring up the sides of the shoe more tightly across the top of the narrow foot.

Wide Feet
If you have wide feet, consider using the eyelets closer to the tongue of the shoe. (See Figure B.) Using the eyelets that are closer together will give more width to the lacing area and have the same effect as letting out a corset.

Narrow Heel and Wide Forefoot
If you have a narrow heel and a wide ball of the foot or forefoot, consider using two laces to achieve a combination fit. See Figure C. Use both eyelets to achieve a custom fit that accomodates the width of the forefoot and tightens arounf the narrow heel. Use the closer-set eyelets to adjust the width of the shoe at the forefoot and the wide-set eyelets to snug up the heel.

Specific Pain
If you have a bump on the top of your foor, a high arch, a bone that sticks out, or pain from a nerve or tendon injury, consider leaving a space in the lacing to alleviate pressure. (See Figure D.) Simply skip the eyelets at the point of pain and draw the laces to the next set of eyelets. This lacing pattern will greatly increase the comfort of the shoe.

High Arches
If you have a high arch, consider lacing your shoes so the laces travel in a straight line from eyelet to eyelet. (See Figure E.) By avoiding the criss-croos method, this lacing pattern creates no pressure points at the laces.

Toe Problems
If you have hammertoes, corns, bleeding toes or toe nail problems, consider lacing your shoes so the toe-box area is lifted. (See Figure F.) You can adjust the height of the toe box by pulling on the lace that travels directly from the toe to the top of the shoe.

Heel Fit
To prevent pistoning of the heel in the show and heel blisters try the lacing patterns shown in Figure G. (Notice the top laces are threaded through each other before tying the shoe.)

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