A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Shoe lacing tricks for pain-free running

Blisters, foot pain, high arches and black toenail are common problems for runners. Before you rush out and spend money on new running shoes, try heel locking laces or changing the way you lace your shoes first for a free fix.

The impact of shoe lacing on running

Your shoes are important for your whole body. Besides blisters and black toenails, the added impact from running can cause pain in your ankles, knees, hips and lower back. Tendonitis, heel pain, stress fractures and muscle fatigue are all common ailments that runners can face.

“When your feet hurt, it is not uncommon for your body to compensate with gait that will cause other areas of your body to hurt as well,” said Dr. Brian Rougeux, Marshfield Clinic Health System podiatric surgeon. “Another concern with foot pain is that if it is not given enough time to heal, pain can linger on for weeks or months which can become very debilitating.”

Simply tying your shoes tighter may lead to more pain and foot problems for some people. Instead, Dr. Rougeux recommends these shoe-lacing tricks if you have pain and injuries from running.

heel locking laces for heel slippingHeel locking laces for heel slipping

Problem: Your foot is slipping, causing blisters or pain from the added impact.

Lacing solution: For heel locking laces, you tie your shoes as you normally would. The only difference is when you come to the last eyelet. Instead of crossing, pass the lace through the final eyelet with the laces coming out inside the shoe. Finish by crossing your laces and inserting them through the loops that you’ve created. Pull tightly to secure shoe and tie the laces. This helps to lock your foot into the shoe and reduces friction that can lead to blisters.

Lacing solution for black toesBlack toenail

Problem: Your big toenail is black or sore from rubbing or hitting against your shoe.

Lacing solution: Lifting the toebox will help with black toenail. This will give more room for your toes. To do this, you need to adjust your laces so one side is about 3x longer than the other. Start by lacing the bottom eyelet, routing the laces into the shoe. Pass the shorter lace to the top eyelet on the opposite side. With the longer lace, crisscross through all the remaining eyelets. At the top, tie as you normally would.

Lacing solution for high archesHigh arches

Problem: The top of your foot is sore or raw from rubbing against the top of your shoe. This happens because you have high arches or you tied your shoes too tight.

Lacing solution: The goal is to take pressure off the top of your foot at the site of pain. Start by marking on your shoe where the pain is. Then begin lacing your shoes as you normally would.  At the site on your shoe that you marked, skip crossing over and pull it up through the next eyelet on the same side (you can skip more than one eyelet). This allows more room over the area that is having the rubbing. Resume lacing as normal.

If lacing your shoes differently is not helping, make sure you are wearing an appropriate size shoe. An easy way to approximate is that there should be about 1 thumb width between the end of the shoe and your longest toe.

“Sometimes getting an over the counter orthotic can be beneficial, especially with heel pain,” said Dr. Rougeux. “Most importantly if you ever have concerns about foot pain, you should make an appointment with a foot specialist to ensure it is not something that requires special attention.”

For foot pain help, talk to a Marshfield Clinic Health System provider.

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