We’re all taught from a young age how important it is to keep your laces tied. Nobody wants to trip over a stray shoelace! But did you know that the way you tie your laces can also have an impact on the functionality, fit, and comfort of your shoes?
For example, the traditional zig-zag pattern for lacing your shoes is one of the least functional methods! It also tends to loosen up quickly, leading to heel lift and painful blisters. It can also cause lace bite by increasing the pressure between your ankle and the tongue of a skate or cleat.
According to Ian Fieggan, the inventor of the World’s Fastest Shoelace Knot (yes – it’s a thing!), there are almost 2 TRILLION ways to tie shoelaces. And each of those methods has unique benefits and drawbacks!
Don’t worry – you don’t have to memorize all 2 trillion options! Just check out this list for the most useful shoe lacing methods for work or sport.
Top 8 Most Useful Shoe Lacing Methods
#1: Lock Your Heels In Place With Lock Lacing
Have you ever wondered what that extra eyelet is for on the top of some sports shoes? It’s so you can lock your shoelaces in place using the lock lacing technique! This technique creates “pulleys” in your laces for extra tightening, allowing you to lock your foot in place to prevent slippage, heel lift, and blisters. If you do a lot of hiking or running this lacing method is a must-have. Here’s how to lock your laces:
- Lace your shoes like normal until you get to the second-last eyelet.
- From the second-last eyelet, run the ends vertically on the outside of the shoe and in through the last eyelet.
- Cross the ends, then feed them through the loop you just created between the last two eyelets.
- Tighten and tie your shoes.
For visual learners, check out this great video from Harry Runs to see how it’s done:
You can place a lock pattern anywhere you feel you need extra tightening in your shoes. If you feel you need more support at the base of your shoe, simply add a lock in the middle two eyelets instead of the top two! You can also combine this technique with any of the other methods listed below for even more support and functionality!
#2: Use Bush Lacing For Hiking or Biking
When you’re hiking or biking, it’s important to keep your laces out of the way. With this lacing technique, you can maintain even pressure over your entire foot and tie your laces off to one side, reducing your risk of a snagged shoelace.
This inside-out style of shoe lacing might look a little strange, but it has some impressive benefits:
- Eliminates gaps under the horizontal laces that could get caught on the brush while hiking
- Distributes pressure evenly across the whole upper half of the foot, providing a more comfortable fit
- Keeps loops and loose ends away from hazards like bicycle chains or undergrowth
To maximize the benefits of this technique, follow these steps for one shoe, then repeat in reverse for the other one. For hiking, position your knots on the inside to keep your laces away from the undergrowth. For biking, position your knots on the outside to avoid your bicycle chain and other moving parts. Here’s how it’s done:
- Begin with your laces straight across on the inside of the shoe, with the ends poking out through the bottom eyelets.
- Choose which side you want the knot to be tied on. On that side, run the end straight up and in through the next eyelet, then straight across through the opposite side.
- If you have an odd number of eyelet pairs: run that same end straight back on the outside, doubling back and tucking the end under the loop you just created, similar to the heel lock method above. Then, take the other shoelace end and run it straight across horizontally on the inside before continuing.
- Run both ends up on the outside, skipping one eyelet on the way up.
- Run both ends horizontally across on the inside and out through the eyelets directly across.
- Repeat until your shoelace ends are poking out of the top two eyelets on one side, then tie as normal.
#3: Use Progressive Lacing for Wide Feet
If you have wide feet, you’re probably well aware of the issues that can come with ill-fitting shoes. Shoes that are too tight in the wrong places can cause pain, blisters, bunions, and calluses. This progressive shoe lacing technique uses steeper angles near the toe than at the ankle, providing extra room for wider feet.
To create a progressive shoe lacing pattern on shoes with 8 sets of eyelets:
- Start with your laces running horizontally on the inside and out through the 3rd set of eyelets from the top.
- Cross the ends and feed in through the 3rd set of eyelets from the bottom.
- Run both ends straight down on the inside and out through the bottom set of eyelets.
- Cross the ends and run them in through the fourth set of eyelets from the top.
- Cross the ends and run them under the sides and out through the second set of eyelets from the top.
- Cross the ends and run them under the sides and out through the top eyelets, then tie.
#4: Keep Your Shoes Permanently Tight With A Knot
This next method is useful for hockey skates, work boots, or any footwear that you’d like to be able to slip on and off without losing tightness in the toe. By adding a knotted segment into your laces, you can lock them in place at whichever tightness you prefer. Then, you just loosen the area above the knot to take off your boots.
To add a knotted segment to your laces:
- Use shoelaces that are slightly longer than usual to accommodate the knot.
- Lace your shoes as normal until about the middle of the shoe. Tighten your laces up to this point as tight as you would like. Remember, you’re going to be locking this in place so make sure you’re happy with it and can still comfortably remove your shoe!
- Add a reef knot by looping the left end over the right end and through, then loop the right end over the left end and through. Tighten to lock in place.
- From here, lace the rest of your shoes as normal. From now on, your laces will maintain tension at the toe permanently and all you have to do is loosen the section above the knot to take your boot off!
#5: Use The 2-1-3 Method To Avoid Lace Bite
Lace bite is a sharp pain caused by irritation and uneven pressure on the front part of your ankle. It’s a common issue for hockey and soccer players but can also happen in work boots. The more you wear the offending skates or boots, the worse the pain becomes. That can be a big issue when you’re wearing them for hours at a time!
Luckily, there is an easy way to prevent lace bite without sacrificing the fit of your boot. It’s called the 2-1-3 method, and it works like this:
- Lace your shoes as normal until you reach the ankle area.
- Cross the ends on the inside and poke them out through the second set of eyelets up (skipping one set of eyelets). This is row 2 in the sequence.
- Cross the ends on the outside, and run them in through the eyelet below. This is row 1.
- Cross the ends on the inside, and run them out through the second set of eyelets up (skipping one set of eyelets again). This is row 3.
- Tighten the laces and continue in a normal zig-zag pattern to finish lacing, then tie.
By maintaining firm pressure on the ankle, you can prevent the rubbing and slipping around that causes lace bite, even when you’re breaking in a new pair of skates. However, if you are already suffering from lace bite you will want to reduce pressure instead of increasing it to relieve pain. That’s where our next tip comes in!
#6: Relieve Lace Bite From Hockey Skates With Gap Lacing
If you are already suffering from lace bite but still need to wear your skates, cleats, or work boots, there is an easy way to reduce pressure on your ankles and get some pain relief.
By adding a gap in your lacing to avoid the area of discomfort, you can prevent additional rubbing or pressure that causes pain. In taller boots, you can also increase flexibility at the ankle using this method. Here’s how it’s done:
- Lace your shoes normally until just below the area of sensitivity.
- Run the ends straight up the sides and in through the next set of eyelets, creating a gap in the zig-zags over your ankle.
- Once you’ve passed the ankle, go back to crisscrossing as normal.
If you want your laces tighter, you can position the vertical lines on the inside of your boot instead of the outside. Note that the gap doesn’t have to be over your ankle – it can be placed anywhere you feel your shoes putting too much pressure!
#7: Keep Your Laces Tight With A Double Helix Pattern
This lacing style isn’t just pretty to look at – it’s also extremely functional! By tucking the outer diagonals under the inner ones, you can increase friction, which creates a locking effect as you lace up your boots.
This method is particularly effective for any footwear where firm support is needed – like skates, boots, and climbing shoes. Here’s how to recreate it:
- Start with your laces straight across at the bottom set of eyelets. Poke the left end out through the bottom-left eyelet, and feed the right end in through the bottom-right eyelet.
- Run the right end diagonally up on the inside of the shoe and out through the next highest eyelet on the left.
- Run the left end up diagonally on the outside, tucking it under the diagonal you just made in the middle to lock it in place. Then, feed it through the next highest eyelet.
- Continue up the shoe, running the diagonal on the inside first then tucking the diagonal on the outside under it as you cross over. Repeat until you get to the end of the shoe, then tie your shoes.
#8: Use The Train Track Lacing Method to Protect Your Laces While Skateboarding
It’s not unusual to go through a pair of shoelaces in a matter of days or hours while skateboarding, particularly when you’re using traditional flat laces! Many popular tricks put the high points of your shoe (and therefore, your laces) in direct contact with the grip tape, which is sure to wear them down over time.
With this train track lacing pattern, you can minimize high spots and extend the life of your laces without sacrificing the tightness of your shoe. Plus, it just looks cool! Here’s how to create a train track shoelace pattern:
- Start with your laces straight across the inside of the shoe with the ends poking through the bottom eyelets.
- Run both ends straight up on the outside and in through the next set of eyelets.
- Cross both ends straight across on the inside of the shoe and poke the ends through the occupied eyelet on the opposite side. Take care that the aglet (the hard end of your laces) doesn’t catch on the shoelace fibers on the way through.
- Repeat up the shoe, tightening as you go.