Four optimal shoe lacing techniques

Lacing techniques can be as daunting as the process of buying a new pair of shoes, whether it’s for running, hiking or walking.

Seeking professional advice for choosing the right shoe 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.

Using the following infographics from RunRepeat, 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.

Loop-lock lace-up

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.

lacing techniques, optimal lacing, runners, lacing, infographic, Run Repeat

Keeping the foot in place is absolutely crucial while in motion. That’s where the loop-lock lace technique can come in handy. Infographic: RunRepeat

Straight lacing

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.

lacing techniques, optimal lacing, runners, lacing, infographic, Run Repeat

This lacing is also called “parallel lacing” or “lydiard lacing”, and many runners use it daily to ease the pressure at the top of the shoe and perfect their run. Infographic: RunRepeat

Gap Lacing

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.

lacing techniques, optimal lacing, runners, lacing, infographic, Run Repeat

Special lacing technique that allows changing the tightness of the grip during the run. By applying it right, you can even out the pressure and avoid foot fatigue. Infographic: RunRepeat

Toebox lift

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.

lacing techniques, optimal lacing, runners, lacing, infographic, Run Repeat

Painful cramping can be battled by creating more space in the forefoot. Infographic: RunRepeat

These lacing techniques make it very evident that when you next don your new pair of 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. We seldom take care of our feet, yet they take us 
the distance.

For more lacing techniques

See RunRepeat’s article on lacing techniques


Originally published in September/October 2013 issue 61.


Other articles posted in this period

About Ryan Hodierne

Ryan is a sports scientist who firmly believes sport makes the world go round. His specialty is in Performance Analysis. He has assisted many of SA's national teams at the highest level, including the Olympics. He's a training author and keen adventure athlete who competes in off-road events of all kinds. He is the official Otter African Trail Run and Tour de Tuli training coach. Ryan currently resides in Singapore where he functions as a biomechanist, serving the nation's top profile athletes at the Singapore Sports Institute. Email him at

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