Lacing Your Shoes

The American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) and Auburn University School of Kinesiology have teamed up to provide regular news articles to keep you informed about current findings in the field.

It does matter how you do it.

While we all learned to tie our shoelaces as early as Kindergarten, there are in fact more appropriate ways to arrange those laces. Now while Bloomberg’s business site focuses on “style,” and suggests different lacing techniques for formal and casual shoes as well as sneakers, researchers in the Sport Biomechanics lab in the School of Kinesiology have conducted their own research. In their case, the focus has been on increased comfort and perceived security of the shoe to the foot. The project is being led by Chris Wilburchris wilburnn, a President’s Graduate Opportunities Program fellowship holder.

The focus on lacing has derived from studies that have observed certain biomechanical parameters of the foot under various lacing strategies and footwear, and which have found reductions of plantar and dorsal pressures.

Anecdotally, the runners loop strategy has been reported to make the heel feel more snug in the shoe, and so this is what was put to the test. The study followed the idea that if the heel is better seated, the center of pressure path may be reduced. Three footwear conditions were examined: barefoot, the traditional lacing, and the runner’s loop lacing strategy.

What did they do?
  1. biomechanicsVolunteers were asked to walk across a special walkway which is 30 feet in length. They did this in bare feet, again with traditionally laced shoes, and finally with shoes using the runner’s loop.
  1. The walkway is equipped with 2300 pressure sensors which measure how fast the person walks, their stride length, as well as which parts of their foot strike the ground each time they take a step.
  1. In this study, the researchers’ interest was on what is called the “center of pressure deviation”. That is, how far from a straight line from back to front does the foot strike the ground during the three different walking conditions.
  1. As the volunteer crosses the walkway, the sensors indicate the pressure exerted by various parts of the foot. Using mathematical formulas, the team can examine which condition is the most efficient.
What they found
  1. Walking barefoot results in considerably more side to side motion of the foot than when wearing shoes.
  1. The runner’s loop technique was superior to the normal lacing technique in reducing this center of pressure movement.
  1. This means that the runner’s loop encourages a more efficient walking pattern due to less shoe slippage.
  1. Further, it is suggested that this more stable and snug fit of the runner’s loop laced shoe can enhance an athlete’s “feel” for the ground, which is of considerable advantage in sports performance.
How to do the “runner’s loop”
shoelace1 1. Unlace your shoe until you have two eye holes on each side of the shoe.
shoelace2 2. Instead of crossing over, feed the lace through the next hole on the same side. Do this on both sides.
shoelace3 3. Then pull the lace out a little so you have created a loop.
tie shoe  4. Straighten out the laces.
tie shoe  5. Cross the lace from one side down through the loop on the other side. Do this on both sides.
tie shoe  6. Pull the laces out to tighten. Then pull the laces up, then out, then up again. (This brings your heel in closer.)
tie shoe  7. Complete the bow.
tie shoe 8. If you have excess lace, tuck it through the front of the shoe.


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