How to Lace Your Shoes for the Right Fit

Avoid heel slippage and reduce risk of blisters and black toenails

Shoe lacing techniques can help with shoe fit problems. You may think the shoes are the problem, but often you can change how you lace them and get a better fit. Learn how to lace your shoes to correct common problems with a wide foot, narrow heel, wide instep, narrow foot, and heel slippage.

Changing your lacing pattern will affect the fit of the shoe, so use caution after making a change. See how it feels while wearing the shoes for just 10 or 15 minutes. Build up your time spent walking with the new lacing pattern.

1
Lacing Technique to Prevent Heel Slippage

Shoelacing technique to avoid heel slippage
Shoelacing technique to avoid heel slippage. Wendy Bumgardner ©

To keep your heel in the heel cup of the shoe, lace your shoes to form a "lace lock" at the top of your shoe.

This will allow you to tie the shoe tightly at the top without narrowing the fit for the rest of the shoe.

  • Lace up from the bottom of the next-to-last eyelet.
  • Then lace over and down through the top eyelet on the same side to form a "bunny ear."
  • Do the same for the other side.
  • 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.

This technique is very important in preventing getting black toenails when you walk or run. Those can happen when your foot slips forward in your shoes and you keep banging your toes against the front of the toebox. It may also help prevent getting blisters on your foot may rub more often if it keeps moving backward and forward in your shoe with each step.

2
Shoe Lacing Technique for a Narrow Foot

Shoelacing Technique for a Narrow Foot
Shoelacing Technique for a Narrow Foot. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Use this lacing pattern for a narrow foot. If your shoe has 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, then use the "lace lock" as with the heel slippage, only between the second and third eyelet. This keeps the laces from loosening.

  • Lace down through the next eyelet on the same side to form a "bunny ear."
  • Do the same for the other side.
  • Now lace through the opposite "bunny ear" you formed between those two eyelets.
  • Continue lacing diagonally. You will have formed a lace lock.

Now wear the shoes with this new lacing pattern for just a short distance and 10 or 15 minutes of walking at first. Adjust accordingly and build up your time walking with this new lacing pattern.

3
Shoe Lacing Technique for a Wide Foot and High Instep

Shoelacing Technique for Wide Foot
Shoelacing Technique for Wide Foot. Wendy Bumgardner ©

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 over and under technique pictured. This will give space for expansion, and tightening the laces won't over tighten the fit.

  • From the bottom, lace up through the first eyelets.
  • Cross the laces over and lace down through the second eyelets.
  • Don't cross over, lace up through the third set of eyelets.
  • Crossover and lace down through the fourth set of eyelets.
  • Don't cross over, lace up through the fifth set of eyelets
  • Crossover and lace up through the sixth set of eyelets.
  • Continue until you have used all of the eyelets you wish to use, then tie your bow.

Wear the shoes for 10 to 15 minutes at first to adjust to the new lacing pattern. Steadily build up the time you spend wearing the shoes when you adjust the lacing pattern.

4
Shoe Lacing Techniques for a Narrow Heel and Wide Forefoot

Two Shoelacing Techniques for Narrow Heel and Wide Forefoot
Two Shoelacing Techniques for Narrow Heel and Wide Forefoot. Wendy Bumgardner ©

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 3 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 is that you have two chances now of having a "blowout" on each foot. You can probably do a permanent knot for the lower set of laces, or use Ian's Knot or a lace keeper solution to keep them tied.

Solution 2: Use a combination of the wide forefoot over-and-under technique and the narrow heel lace lock technique.

  • From the bottom, lace up through the first eyelets.
  • Cross the laces over and lace down through the second eyelets.
  • Don't cross over, lace up through the third set of eyelets.
  • Crossover and lace down through the fourth set of eyelets.
  • Don't cross over, lace up through the fifth set of eyelets
  • Crossover and lace up through the sixth set of eyelets.
  • Don't cross over, lace down through the seventh set of eyelets, forming a "bunny ear"
  • 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.

Changing your lacing pattern will affect the fit of the shoes, so it's best to wear the shoes for shorter periods and shorter distances at first until you have adjusted to the new fit and feel.

Sources:

American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society Lacing Techniques for Proper Shoe Fit.

New Balance Shoes: Product Insert - Lacing for Better Fit.

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