By Ryan Hodierne
The process of buying a new pair of shoes, whether it’s for running, hiking or walking, can be a daunting one.
Seeking professional advice from a specialist store is something that I cannot recommend enough. You want to walk out of that store not only with the best shoe for your intended purpose, but with a pair that fits and feels great.
What makes the shoe fit even better however, is the technique used when lacing them up. If we consider the number of eyelets visible on any shoe, it becomes evident just how many permutations can be used.
In the following diagrams, we will narrow these methods down to avoid those done for aesthetic purposes, and rather focus on those that really do serve an intended purpose.
The Loop-lock technique is the most common technique used by runners. It secures the shoe to the foot and prevents heel slippage while running or walking.
The Straight lacing technique is characterised by the shoe lace traveling in a straight line from eyelet to eyelet. The primary benefit here is in alleviating unnecessary pressure off the bridge of the foot, as would be the concern for someone with a high foot bridge.
Gap lacing is an interesting technique very rarely considered, yet many runners and hikers suffer from the issue that this technique alleviates. It allows for the alleviation of unnecessary pressure at the top of the foot in a given area. It is most common for feet with bunions, growths or feet that are prone to blistering.
The following technique is used to minimise the possibility of tearing the upper mesh of the shoe’s toebox. It is aptly named the Toebox lift.
Some runners have hypermobile toes that lift while running. Often the result of this is the big toe pushing through the upper material of the shoe. With this lacing technique, the one end of the lace is strung diagonally across from the inside eyelet of the shoe to the top eyelet as the remaining end is criss-crossed up. As the laces are tied, the toebox of the shoe will lift up and away, enough to provide room for the big toe to move around in.
These lacing techniques make it very evident that when you next don your new pair of running kicks for their first run, consider your foot type and what lacing technique will best suit your foot. Don’t overlook that pretty pattern your laces form; you should consider whether they serve the right purpose or not. With the right lacing technique the fit will feel more personalised to your feet for which we seldom take care of, yet they take us the distance.
Ryan Hodierne is a sports scientist who firmly believes sport makes the world go round. He's also a training author and keen adventure athlete who competes in offroad triathlon, MTB and trail running events around the country.
Source: This article appeared in TRAIL magazine Issue 61, September/October 2013