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Shoe Lacing Tips for Sore Feet

For years I've been telling people it's the little things that count. Small changes in the food we eat and how we exercise can mean the difference between getting in shape or staying fat.

So when a client suggested that changing the way I lace my shoes can help with foot problems, I was intrigued.

Like most people, I learned to tie my shoes when I was four years old. The method was simple. Crisscross the laces until you get to the top and tie it in a bow. It's easy, it works and I figured there weren't many other options. Boy, was I wrong.

A mathematician named Burkard Polster at Monash University in Victoria, Australia, decided to see how many ways shoes could be laced up. Taking a shoe with two rows of six eyelets and adding the condition that each eyelet must assist in pulling the two halves of the shoe together, Burkard calculated that there are 43,200 different ways to thread the laces.

Now, most of those are just going to be tangled messes of knots. But a few can lessen or eliminate pain. To save you from trying out all 43,000 options, here are the top six ways to lace your shoes and relieve aching feet.

Lacing Instructions

High Arches High Arches can cause your instep, the arched upper surface of your foot to get sore. An easy way to solve this problem is to start with normal crisscross lacing, but at the midfoot, feed the laces up the sides. (This is called parallel lacing.) Don't cross over again until you're ready to thread the last hole. By keeping the area open over the instep, your foot won't have all that extra pressure on it.

Wide Forefeet Number 1 Wide Forefeet Number 2 Wide Forefeet can create all sorts of pressure in regular shoes. If you can't get shoes designed specifically for this problem, feed the laces up the sides in parallel. Start crisscrossing again when you get near the top.

Another option is to use two sets of laces on each shoe. Use one set for the bottom half of eyelets and another for the top ones. That way, you can leave the bottom ones much looser for a better fit.

Slipping Heels Slipping Heels can create blisters and slow you down. Assuming the rest of the shoe fits properly, what you want to do is create a more secure fit around the ankle. The best way to do that is with a locking lace.

You feed the laces through normally until one eyelet is left on each side. Don't cross over. Instead, feed the laces top-down through the last eyelet. Then cross the laces over and feed each one under the parallel lace you just made. Pull them tight and tie like normal. This tightens up the area around your ankle without making the rest of the shoe any tighter.

Narrow Feet Narrow Feet that slide around can be taken care of by using a type of locking lace. The goal is to tighten the shoe in the middle. Lace using a crisscross pattern halfway up. On the middle hole put the lace end back through the same hole, creating a loop on top of the shoe. Cross the laces and thread them through the loops you created. Tighten and tie together. Now get a second set of laces and thread them, crisscrossing like normal, up to the top and tie them up.

Hot Spots Hot Spots can happen anywhere on the top of your foot and are often caused by extra pressure on that particular spot. To pinpoint the area, put a dab of lipstick on the hotspot. Then slide your foot in the shoe and press the tongue down on the hot spot. When you take your foot out, you'll have a mark below the eyelet you want to skip.

Lace your shoe like normal until you get to the eyelet just before the spot. Then lace parallel up to the next eyelet. You'll end up with an empty spot where laces don't cross, that should eliminate the pressure point.

There they are. Six simple straightforward ways to help aching feet.

BONUS! Better, Faster Way To Tie & Untie A Double Knot!

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.

Updated 5/19/2022
Updated 5/31/2016