Quick Tips on Running Shoe Lacing

Shoe Lacing Systems

What are laces good for?

Laces help keep your shoes securely on your foot. They should apply pressure evenly and appropriately. Not too tight, not too loose. Just the way the story Goldilocks and the Three Bears would have described it.

Once you have found the perfect lacing system you are sure to discover it changes before very long. Running shoe manufacturers often change the position, orientation and spacing of the eyelets and the lacing system. One would like to believe it is an evolution to greater comfort, efficiency and fit. But appearance and marketability plays at some role.

Over the past few years though, the lacing system that many manufacturers have been adopting returns to a long established standard and is much easier to modify.

Selected Lacing Systems:

  • Traditional
    • Conventional diagonal (Chevron)
    • Conventional Parallel
  • Reduced Pressure Parallel
  • Skip Lacing Pattern
  • Loop Lock Lacing
  • Double Lacing (for wide forefoot and narrow heel)

What Problems Can Laces Cause?

Too loose overall:

  • Foot slips around in the shoe
    • Plantar fasciitis
    • Tendonitis
    • Posterior Tibialis tendinopathy
    • Flexor Digitorum Longus tendinopathy

Too Tight overall

  • Uncomfortable
  • Parallel lacing can help

Anterior ankle pain

  • Nerve compression
  • Tendon compression
  • Cure : lower lace by an eyelet

Midfoot compression or hot spot

  • Pain in midfoot
  • Compresses nerves and tendons
  • Cure : skip lace pattern
  • Make sure you remove the laces from any “tongue guide” loop
skip lace
skip lace

Tight toe box

  • Pinched nerve
  • Neuroma
  • Bunion pain
  • Hammer toes
  • Aggravate incurvated toenails

Band elastic laces

  • Often too loose
  • Too tight
  • Uneven compression

Barrel clips or locks

  • Can feel like big lugs banging up against your foot
  • They can be irritating, aggravating, and annoying

Slipping heel

 

  • Use a lock loop at the top
Lock loop lacing

Wide Forefoot, Narrow Heel

  • Double lacing (2 sets of laces) for each foot

Low Heel Drop And Achilles Tendonitis

Two articles currently up on the Runner’s World news and blog areas take opposite approaches to Achilles tendon problems. One cites a study of normal individuals who were asymptomatic and measured “load” in the Achilles tendon and concluded that there would probably be no help given by a heel lift. This was not a clinical study of treatment however and it has no validity regarding statements made about treatment. In fact the least helpful part of many studies is in the “discussion” part of the study where the authors speculate about what their study means, but which their study did not show. Please beware of author speculation. There are only a few who are accurate in their speculations. And some of them win Nobel prizes.

The other article is a blog by a coach who noted that her runners seemed to be having an inordinate amount of calf and Achilles problems. These are clinical and coaching observations and not a published study. But, there truly may be wisdom in systematic observations. Over the past 6 months she noted that this injury seemed to have surged and become a trend. The calf and Achilles problems were often seen among runners who had thought they were purchasing the same shoe they had run in for years only to find that the “heel drop” (heel to forefoot height differential)  had dramatically decreased. Initially I was going to post on Coach Jenny’s blog article  but I’ll just link to it and make my remarks here.  I believe she is right on top of things in her blog.

Over the past 3 years many manufacturers have attempted  to “minimize” nearly their entire product line. A shoe which had a 12 mm heel drop, now has 8 mm. And of course zero to 2 mm are often touted as the ideal. But the reality is that not everyone responds well or even the same to changes.

As George Sheehan said “we are all an experiment of one”. And the modern reality is that studies, trends, and memes are aggregate while injuries happen to individuals. And individuals need tailored solutions that are not always the trendy advice making the rounds.

So in spite of  some “nay-sayers”, who adamantly disagree, I side with Coach Jenny. Often returning those 4 mm or so back as a heel lift, can make the difference between comfort and pain. Instead of a soft gel or foam heel lift, I prefer a solid heel lift made of firm layered plastic film, hard rubber, or leather. You may find that after months of icing, foam rolling, massage and even lower heel drop shoes, this may be your answer. But if you’ve had the pain that long, you may need to check in with your sports doc. (And hope the advice is different from what has failed during your experiments!)

This is still not the entire answer for many individuals and there are other things to analyze. Shoe changes, training changes, terrain, and recent racing history along with individual biomechanics all come into play for a more complete analysis of the causes and the likely solutions. YMMV

 

 

 

What Causes Injury In New Runners

If we look at the scientific literature, the long and short of it is, we do not have any study that tells us what the risk factors are for injuries in new runners. A relatively new study at British Journal of Sports Medicine  looked at over 900 novice runners, classified their foot type, and put them all in a similar light weight shoe. They found that people with differing foot types all became injured at the same rate, except those that were considered “normal” were injured at a slightly higher rate. A study not long ago showed that runners who were assigned to motion control shoes were injured at a higher rate that those who selected a stability shoe. The study did indicate that assignments to shoes based solely on foot typing was not useful in preventing injury for uninjured runners. (The conclusion was limited to “moderate pronation” not severe pronation according to the author’s summary.) Of course studies like this make for good press.

It is important to realize that these studies do not provide information on how to treat runners that are injured.

All the studies over the years have shown that running is associated with running injuries as skiing is associated with skiing injuries. The studies themselves often vary widely in estimating the risk of running injury. Studies often define injury so differently that the most quoted figures define injury as occurring to between 25% and 65% of all runners over the course of a year. Even our election predictors can predict elections much closer than that. But this does not mean running is high risk especially while so many studies point out the benefit of running.

I still believe that many injuries are caused by overuse and incorrect training. But sometimes correcting that alone is just not enough. It is important to be flexible in approaching running injuries and not have one simple solution or one simple belief system to fix all running injuries. Not every injury is fixed by strengthening your glutes, using a form roller, switching to a forefoot landing style or burning all of your running shoes. But all of the above can be helpful at times. Training, muscle strength, weakness and imbalance, relative lack of flexibility, your individual biomechanics,  nutrition, sleep patterns, and running style, stride, contact, etc. and your running shoes all come into play as factors to be examined while determining how to optimize your running, how to recover and how to avoid future injury. I still advise avoiding the “terrible toos” of too much, too soon, too often, too fast, with too little rest. While we don’t have conclusive advise that this advise works, it does not sound bad at all, and the advise itself comes with very little risk.

I’ll quote from an email (relating to active, recreational runners) that I sent off to a friend earlier today, who has been uninjured for the past few years:

(The study we are discussing) “…means we can’t predict what will cause an uninjured, new runner to become injured.

It doesn’t tell us anything about how to cure any injury that you’ve developed. Or how to prevent an injury you’ve solved from coming back.
All studies lead to the following two conclusions: The best predictor of future injury is past injury. Running injuries are associated with running. But other studies clearly let us know that running is overall very good for you. (Especially if you are not running in pain.)
Once you find success and go a long time with no injury I recommend not messing with success. If you decide to make changes, make them slowly and carefully. And do it with the voice of Clint Eastwood in the background (no, not talking to an empty chair) saying “Do you feel lucky today, kid?”
But yes, the advice that all flat feet should be in motion control shoes is wrong and so is the advice that all high arched feet should be in cushioned shoes.
It is easier to treat an injury than to say with absolute certainty how to never get injured. But often the secret of avoiding re-injury comes from the knowledge of what you did to get rid of the injury.”

Now to round this off we just need to find some music that offers good, sound advice. Maybe something with scientifically proven advice…. or reflect on “Is It Too Much”?

Nike Vapor will not be Vaporware (The Nike Vapor Laser Talon)

Nikes Vapor Laser TalonVapor wear or Vaporware? 

The Nike Vapor Laser Talon is a new Football clete which is manufactured, in part, using 3D printing. It weighs 5.6 oz. The prepared press on the shoe states:

“Nike’s new 3D printed plate is contoured to allow football athletes to maintain their drive position longer and more efficiently, helping them accelerate faster through the critical first 10 yards of the 40.”

“”SLS technology has revolutionized the way we design cleat plates – even beyond football – and gives Nike the ability to create solutions that were not possible within the constraints of traditional manufacturing processes,” said Shane Kohatsu, Director of Nike Footwear Innovation.””

3D printing has been used for prototypes for several years. This is said to be the first shoe in which 3D printing using Selective Laser Sintering technology (SLS) as part of the standard manufacturing process.

Don’t look to be printing this out at home any time soon. It will be manufactured at the Nike production facilities. And it is not going to be individually customized at this time.

There has been some discussion about the name, with one blogger saying that it seemed cool enough to come from Spike TV. For me it rang a bell: shoes, wear the shoes, run in the shoes, play foot ball in the shoes. Vapor. Hmm, vapor – vapor and shoes. Vapor wear. Vaporware.

Vaporware is a term applied to software products that are announced and somehow never see the light of day. Wikipedia sums it up for those of you not familiar with the term Vaporware.

I don’t believe I’ve seen Nike fail to deliver on an announced shoe, so this new Vapor Wear is likely to be worn and not be like vaporware.

If you are ready to try your hand at 3D design but can’t afford a printer, I came across Shapeways, which offers tutorials and the ability to get started.

Nikes Vapor Laser Talon