When I started to run, I had no idea how to tie my shoes. I know that sounds stupid, but let me explain. I was asking my running friends if I should keep my laces tight or loose. I felt that my calf tightness and shin splint pain could be related to how I tied my shoes. I never got a definitive answer because each runner has a different preference on how tight they tie their shoes.
I used Nathan Lock Laces for a while which are elastic cords with a lockout system. This provides some flexibility and you don’t have to untie your shoes in order to take them off. I loved the convenience factor, but wasn’t sure if it was also causing my laces to be too loose. I searched online and found out that there are several alternative ways that you can lace your shoes in order to alleviate pain. There are patterns for people with wide feet, high insteps, narrow heals, and even problems with your big toe (great if you get black toe nails). Here is a great diagram that I found (courtesy of http://www.heandsheeatclean.com)
My favorite lacing pattern is recommended by Altra. It will allow your shoes to be tight in heel, relaxed over the arch (you should be able to put a finger under the laces here), and loose at the fore foot. This works particularly well in Altra shoes where you have a wide toe box.
- Start by running the lace straight across the bottom, over the tongue and downward into the shoe. Make sure both sides of the remaining lace are equal.
- Without crossing, skip under to the second set of holes, then over to the third set of holes.
- From the third holes to the fourth holes, cross the laces over the top of each other and insert downward into the holes on the opposite side. Continue this crossing technique until you reach the second-to-last set of holes.
- String the lace into the last holes upward from underneath. Create a small loop with each end by threading the lace back into the same hole.
- Slide the remaining lace from the opposite side into the hole.
By using this method, you allow your feet to spread out, which will cause a chain reaction and allow your legs to be looser as well. Let me know what your favorite alternative lacing method.