How-to

Quick and Easy Heel Lock Lacing for Runners (With Video)

Heel lock lacing, also known as runner’s lacing or runners loop, is an alternative way to lace shoes to prevent heel slippage and excessive foot movement. By crisscrossing the laces across the top of the foot, heel lock lacing creates a snug, secure fit for active pursuits like running, hiking, tennis, and more.

This advanced lacing method enhances stability, reduces friction that leads to blisters, and minimises pressure on the toes. Read on to learn how to properly execute the heel lock technique for optimal comfort and support.

Understanding Heel Lock Lacing

Conventional shoelace tying often leads to a loose fit in the heel and midfoot areas. This allows your foot to slide around inside the shoe during activity. Excess foot movement causes blisters from the friction. Your toes can also jam into the front of the shoe on descents, which can lead to black toenails and bruising.

Heel lock lacing addresses these issues by crisscrossing the laces horizontally across the middle of the foot. This closes the shoe snugly around the midfoot and heel for a stable, locked-in feel. The laces essentially act as extra “straps” holding your foot in place within the shoe.

Runners first popularised this lacing method to prevent foot slippage when pounding the pavement for miles. But heel lock lacing can improve fit and stability in any active pursuit including court sports, hiking, cross-training, and walking. It helps ensure your foot doesn’t slide around inside the shoe.

Preparing Your Shoes for Heel Lock Lacing

To effectively execute heel lock lacing, you need appropriate footwear and laces:

  • Shoe type: The shoe must have at least 6-8 eyelets extending up to the top of the ankle collar to allow for the crossover lacing. Low-cut shoes won’t work well.
  • Lace material: Flat laces with some elasticity make heel lock lacing easier. Oftentimes round, slippery laces lack the friction to stay secured during dynamic activity. Waxed round laces work better than plain round laces.
  • Lace length: You need longer than average laces, around 54-60 inches. Heel lock lacing requires more lace length to crisscross up the shoe and feed back through the loops.

Start by lacing up the bottom of the shoe using the traditional crisscross “over-under” technique up to the second to last eyelets. This provides a solid base.

Step-by-Step Guide to Heel Lock Lacing

Once your base is laced up, execute the heel lock crossover pattern:

Step 1

  • Continue lacing straight up to the top two eyelets on the same side.
  • The lace should come up through the second to last eyelet and out the very top eyelet on each side.

Step 2

  • Take the lace coming out the top eyelet and loop it inward to create a “bunny ear”.
  • Feed the lace into the top eyelet horizontally on the same side.
  • Repeat this bunny ear loop on both the left and right sides.

Step 3

  • Take the left lace and crisscross it over to loop through the bunny ear on the right side.
  • Take the right lace and criscross to loop through the bunny ear on the left side.

Step 4

  • Pull the crisscrossed laces snugly to lock the heel and midfoot in place.
  • Consider wrapping the laces horizontally around the back of the ankle for extra stability before tying the bow.
  • Tie the knot as normal at the top.

The end result should be the laces tightly criss-crossing over your foot for a secure fit. Walk around and make any adjustments needed to fine tune the snugness.

Troubleshooting Common Heel Lock Lacing Issues

It takes some practice to perfect heel lock lacing. Here are some common hurdles and fixes:

Issue: Laces feel too tight and dig into the top of your foot.

Solution: Loosen lace tension or use wider laces to distribute pressure.

Issue: Laces are too short to complete the heel lock crisscross.

Solution: Get longer laces in the 54-60 inch range to allow for the crossover.

Issue: Heel still feels somewhat loose.

Solution: Pull laces tighter so they fully cinch the heel horizontally. An additional ankle wrap can also prevent heel lift.

Issue: Toes jam against front of shoe on descents.

Solution: Skip the last 1-2 lower eyelets to reduce pressure on the toes.

Be prepared to experiment with things like lace tension, skipping eyelets, and ankle wrapping to customize the fit.

Conclusion

Lacing with heel lock takes some practice but pays dividends in stability, comfort and foot protection once mastered. Don’t be afraid to watch tutorials and tweak the pattern until you dial in the ideal lacing arrangement. Your feet will thank you on long runs, hikes, tennis matches or any active endeavor.

Say goodbye to painful blisters and loose heels by becoming competent in heel lock lacing.

Appendix: Heel Lock Lacing Visual Guide

For visual learners, here is another video demonstrating proper heel lock lacing technique:

FAQ About Lace Lock or Runners Loop

Does heel lock lacing work?

Yes, heel lock is effective. It secures the heel in place, reducing slippage inside the shoe. This is particularly beneficial during activities where foot stability is crucial, such as running or hiking​.

What is the best lacing for heel slip?

Heel lock lacing is considered one of the best methods to prevent heel slip as it tightly secures the foot and minimises movement within the shoe

How do you prevent heel blisters from lace shoes?

Preventing heel blisters involves ensuring a snug fit without excessive tightness. Heel lock can help, as well as using proper socks, ensuring shoes are the correct size, and breaking in new shoes gradually. You might also consider using padded heel inserts or specific blister-prevention patches​

Why use a heel lock?

A heel lock is used to prevent the foot from sliding forward in the shoe, reducing the risk of blisters, toenail damage, and improving overall shoe fit. It’s particularly useful in activities that cause the foot to push forward repeatedly, such as downhill running or hiking​​.

What are the benefits of lock laces?

Lock laces provide a consistent, secure fit and are designed to lock in place once adjusted, so they don’t require retying. They are beneficial for quickly putting on or removing shoes, and they can accommodate swelling of the feet as they can be easily adjusted for comfort. They’re also great for athletes, children, the elderly, or those with mobility issues who may struggle with traditional laces​.

What if I feel discomfort after lacing my shoes with the heel lock method?

If you experience discomfort, try adjusting the tension of the laces or re-lacing the shoes to ensure the heel is secure but not too tight. The fit should be snug, not constricting

Author - Mathew Stuckey

Mathew Stuckey is the founder of Ultramarathon Central, an online platform dedicated to supporting and inspiring ultra runners from all walks of life. With a passion for pushing the limits of what's possible, Mathew has taken on some of the toughest ultra events in the UK, including the Monster Triathlon.

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