How to tie your shoelaces for running

How to tie your shoe laces 
Nick Scott, Personal Trainer

When we’re kids, learning to tie our shoelaces is a big deal. But once we’ve mastered it, we don’t tend to give knots a lot of thought – even though the way we lace and tie our trainers plays such a huge role in the way we run.

To think, most people spend hours researching that perfect running shoe. Some even go as far as seeing a podiatrist to have an orthotic fitted. But after all that, when we hit the pavement and find our new shoes rub our feet or those niggling injuries keep on persisting, we’re lost as to why.

All when the answer could be as simple as not tying your shoelaces right or tight enough.

Without getting too technical, research1 has shown that tight laces can reduce pronation, being the way your foot rolls inward when you run. Even when you invest in stabilising shoes, they may not work the way they should if your feet aren’t held down properly inside your runners by laces that are tightly fastened.

When your ankles and arches aren’t supported, you can’t maintain an energy-efficient running gait and minimise your risk of injury. But when trainers are laced the right way, they can have positive affect on impact loading rates – resulting in less shock and an increase in your running economy.

Now, have you ever wondered about that mysterious extra eyelet at the top of your shoe? You know the one which sits a little wider up near the tongue? Well, if you’re anything like most of my clients, you normally skip it and tie your shoelaces at the sixth hole – all, when really, that seventh eyelet could hold the answer to ‘that perfect fit’.

The trick is to use the extra hole to create what’s known as a “heel lock” or a “lace lock”. This method is said to produce extra friction between the laces and your ankle, keeping the ankle and heel area snug and preventing heel slippage in your running shoe.

But heel lock isn’t the only method. In fact, there are many others to suit different foot types and problems, including these two:

  1. Volume Lacing: If you have a tender spot on the top of your foot, try skipping those eyelets directly over the sensitive area and avoid placing extra pressure to it. This volume technique is good for those runners who experience pins and needles through the top of their feet, too.
  2. Parallel Lacing: If your shoes are too tight along the top of your foot, look into parallel lacing. You’ll find there are loads of videos online which show exactly how to do it properly – just like there are for many other styles of lacing.

So head to YouTube and give a few options a go to see which one works best for you. Otherwise, if injuries continue, speak to your healthcare professional.

1. Hagen, M.; Hennig, E. M., Effects of different shoe-lacing patterns on the biomechanics of running shoes. Journal of Sports Sciences 2009, 27 (3), 267-275.

Information provided in this article is not medical advice and you should consult with your healthcare practitioner. Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this publication. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest.