Shoe tying may seem like elementary stuff. (Remember the story about the little bunny who hops around a tree and finds a hole?) But you can actually put your shoe tying skills to serious work. Often times the fit of athletic shoes can be modified by simply adjusting the way you tie your laces. This is great news for people who have found a pair of shoes they love but can’t quite achieve a comfortable fit.
If your heel is slipping
Try tying your laces in a ‘lace lock’. This will allow you to tighten the laces around the ankle without having to tighten the laces at the front of your foot. Lace up your shoe normally, leaving the eyelets closest to the ankle open. Instead of making a final ‘X’, thread each lace through the open eyelets. This will create a loop on the outside of the shoe. (To make this very clear, imagine you’ve just finished the ‘X’. You should have two tails. Take the right tail and thread it through the right eyelet so that the lace moves from the outside of the shoe to the inside. Don’t pull the lace all the way through! You want to create a loop just big enough for your little finger.) Once you have your two loops, take the laces and cross them. Now thread the tails through the two loops you created. (The left tail will now be threaded through the right loop, and the right tail will be threaded through the left loop.) You’re now ready to tie your shoe like normal. The extra loops allow you to tighten the shoe around the ankle, which will keep your heel in place, without tightening the rest of the shoe.
If your foot is narrow
You can use the lace lock to tighten the toe box of your athletic shoe if your foot is narrow. Start by lacing your shoes normally (i.e., begin with the eyelets furthest from the tongue and work forward). Once you reach the second eyelet, stop lacing. You are going to use the lace lock between the second and third eyelet. Take the tail of the lace that extends from the second eyelet on the right side of the shoe and thread it through the third eyelet on the right side of the shoe. (The lace should enter the third eyelet from the outside, and the new tail of the lace should end up inside the shoe.) Don’t pull the lace all the way through; make a loop. Do the same thing on the left side of the shoe. (The lace should move from the second eyelet on the left side to the third eyelet on the left side.) Once you have your two loops, cross the laces. Thread the left tail through the right loop and the right tail through the left loop. You’ve now created a lace lock which will enable you to cinch your shoe tightly at the forefront of your foot without the laces loosening. Continue lacing as normal. If your feet are extremely narrow, you may want to use another lace lock around the ankle.
The way you tie your shoes can completely change the way an athletic shoe fits. Put your shoe tying skills to work with special shoe tying techniques designed to address fit problems.
If your shoe feels too tight
It is not only runners with wide feet who complain of too tight shoes; people with high arches often feel like their athletic shoes are too constricting. The way to solve this problem is to lace your shoes with a parallel lacing technique rather than making X’s. To lace your shoes this way, start on the side of the shoe where your big toe is. To make this explanation clearer, let’s imagine that we are lacing the right shoe. Thread one end of the lace through the eyelet farthest from the toe (the first eyelet) and the other end of the lace through the second eyelet. The two tails should end up outside the shoe. (Note: both of these eyelets are on the left side of the shoe!) Once the first and second eyelets are threaded, take the tail of the upper lace and cross to the right side of the shoe. Thread the lace through the first eyelet on the right side, moving from the outside of the shoe to the inside of the shoe. Now thread this same tail through the third eyelet on the right side. (Notice we skipped one eyelet!) Repeat this pattern. Take the same tail and thread it through the eyelet directly across the shoe. (Again, thread the lace from the outside of the shoe to the inside of the shoe). Skip an eyelet on the same side and then thread it through the next eyelet (from the inside of the shoe to the outside). Note: we’ve been working with the same tail the entire time. Once you’ve reached the tongue with that tail, go back and repeat the procedure with the other tail, which should still be dangling from the second eyelet on the left side.
If your toes feel cramped
If your shoe fits perfectly except for the toe box, try using four laces that are half the length instead of two. Use the shorter lace to lace normally the upper three eyelets. Tie a bow. Now use a second shorter lace to lace the bottom three eyelets. Tie a second bow. This effectively allows you to tie a very loose bow in the toe area of the shoe, while maintaining a tight fit around the ankle.