The way you’re tying your shoes may not feel all that important, but when you’re hitting the open road or the trails for a run, believe us: it is. A poorly tied or loose-fitting shoe is unfortunately a factor in sprained ankles, blisters, and even shin splints. So if you want to run your best, it all starts with the moment you lace up before trotting out.
Experienced runners know that you can protect your feet and enhance your comfort by using a simple lace-tying tactic called “Heel Lock,” an airtight knot that is different than your traditional knot. With early-fall marathon season lurking right around the corner, we took the liberty of explaining this method in full. Bonus: it’s great for more than just running. Try this technique before you do any of these 10 Best Cardio Workout for People Over 40, and you’ll be feeling better and looking better in no time.
Find the right kicks.
No amount of tactics for tying shoes will help you if you can’t stand the shoes you’re in. Find a pair of running shoes that are snug but not tight, and feel more like an extension of your body than a piece of attire. If they look cool, that’s great, too: anything to boost your confidence during a workout is a great thing. And if you need some inspiration, check out the top 5 pairs of running shoes for the year.
Lace ’em up.
Lace up your shoes normally: From the outside in, alternating sides. (Yes, you’ve been doing this part right.) Lacing from the outside-in cinches the shoe with a snugger fit around your foot than lacing from the inside-out does.
Don’t forget the final hole.
You know that second hole on the top of your shoes? Well, as it turns out, that hole isn’t superfluous. In fact, it’s the most essential component of the “heel lock.” This particular method comes from the folks at Illumiseen, a company that makes LED safety accessories for runners, cyclists, and dogs.
And remember: while you’re taking steps to mitigate injury, be sure to master the 5 most essential warm-up stretches of all time.
Run your laces through these holes from the outside, and without alternating sides, as seen in the photo above. This should create two loops on each side of the shoe. You’ll use these loops to eventually anchor the final knot.
Cross your laces.
Now, switch back to alternating sides, and run your laces through the opposing loops, as seen in the photo above. The laces end up pulling against each other, creating an airtight hold against the tongue of the shoe. This knot won’t come undone any time soon.
Pull down, not up.
From there, pull your laces down—tightly. If you pull up, that results in unwanted looseness, ultimately leaving extra room in the heel, which can lead to blisters.
Next, tie your shoes like you always have. Double-knot it if you can, so you don’t run the risk of having them come untied while you’re dashing through the park. If you’re using 54-inch laces—you likely are, seeing as that’s standard for most pairs of running shoes—you’ll have enough slack for a double knot.
Feel your heel.
Try to stick your finger in the heel. The shoe should be flush against your heel to the point where it’s difficult to slide your finger in.
Touch your toes.
Likewise, your toes should be flush against the front of the shoe. All in all, the shoes should fit like gloves.
Hit the ground running.
Now, what are you waiting for? Get out there and dominate your 5k!
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