How to Lace Running Shoes for Numb Toes and Other Conditions


Have you ever had your toes go numb while you were running? It’s annoying and uncomfortable. Numb toes may even lead to worse foot problems if you don’t fix it early on.

The good news is that there’s an easy trick to relieving numbness in your feet when you wear your running shoes. It’s all in the way you lace them up.

We’ve put together a list of ways to lace running shoes for numb toes and other conditions. Each technique is simple and easy to learn and has the potential to relieve aches that could ruin your running.

Become familiar with the lacing techniques that work for your feet. This quick and easy hack could save you from unnecessarily buying new running shoes!

What Causes Your Feet to Go Numb?

There could be multiple reasons your feet go numb while running or walking around. Any number of foot conditions may lead to pressure being placed on the feet in unusual places, which can obstruct blood flow or pinch nerves, leading to numbness.

Numbness can also result from tight-fitting running shoes or lacing your shoes too tightly. In many cases, numbness in the feet is a combination of a foot condition and incorrect shoe sizing or lacing.

How to Lace Running Shoes for Numb Toes and Other Conditions

Thankfully, your shoelaces could be your best weapon against numb feet. Learning how to lace running shoes for numb toes and other conditions can significantly reduce your pain and tingling and improve your running performance.

Numb Toes

Numb toes are often a result of the toe box being too tight and the forefoot not having room to wiggle your toes. There’s an easy way to reduce pressure on the toes and ease the numbness.

Run the laces through the first eyelets closest to the forefoot. Instead of crisscrossing the laces as you would normally, loop them through the next two eyelets on the same shoe side. From there, you can crisscross the laces the rest of the way.

This will provide a looser fit on top of the forefoot while still offering a tighter fit on the bridge of the foot, so the shoe fits comfortably.

Sore Toes

If your toes are painful rather than numb, you can lace your shoes slightly differently to relieve strain on the forefoot and ease your toe pain.

Run the laces through the top eyelet and then take one side of the shoelace to its final position. Zig-zag the other side of the lace through the remaining eyelets until it’s at its final position.

You’ll notice that there’s a noticeable gap on the side of the laces that goes in a straight line. This is where your toes should be. Make sure it’s on the right side!

High Arches

High arches can cause instability, arch pain, and tendonitis, among other things. Aside from choosing a shoe or insole that supports your high arches, here’s a technique to lace your shoes in a way that supports your arches even more strongly.

A single criss-cross over the forefoot provides some strength. Then, avoid crisscrossing for two eyelets, instead running the laces along the same side of the shoe for two eyelets.

From there, return to the usual crisscrossing pattern to provide extra tightness when lacing the shoe up.

This lacing system provides extra support for supination, adding another measure of protection against injury.

Flat Feet

No lacing technique can replace a pair of shoes that’s designed for flat feet. But if you need more support for overpronation, this lacing technique may provide it.

This lacing system follows a criss-cross system for most of the way. However, once you reach the second-last eyelet, you avoid the cross-cross and go for a straight link to the last eyelet.

From there, you need to weave each end of the shoelace underneath the straight section of the laces before looping one side over the other to tie it.

This can be a little complicated, so we highly recommend watching the video below and following along step-by-step to get it right.

Heel Slip

Struggling with your heels slipping out of your shoe as you run? This lacing technique will help lock your foot down so you can run safely and easily without blisters and rubbing.

It’s actually extremely similar to the technique used to support flat feet. It just doesn’t have the small loop at the very end of the technique. All you need to do is pull it tight and tie a good knot.

Narrow Feet

Runners with narrow feet can often struggle to find a good fit on their feet with regular-width shoes. This lacing method tightens the shoe around the foot more than usual, preventing your foot from moving around within the shoe.

From the first eyelet, straight-lace the laces to the next two eyelets. From there, crisscross the laces to the next eyelets. Then you’ll want to skip a set of eyelets and criss-cross the shoelace to the next eyelets and finish up.

Wide Feet

If you have a wide foot, finding a good fit can be equally tricky. This way of lacing helps to provide more space across the foot, which allows your foot to expand comfortably.

You’ll want to begin as if you’re doing a normal criss-cross technique. However, after the second eyelet, you’ll skip every other eyelet until you get to the end.

Bridge of Foot Chafing

Chafing along the bridge of the foot can lead to blisters and general discomfort. This technique can be tricky to learn, but it’s highly effective for reducing pressure across the top of the foot.

There are no crisscrosses on this style of lacing, but rather straight across the foot, allowing for some “breathing room”.

Swollen Feet

This unique technique gives your feet plenty of space to swell while still being well-supported with a decent lockdown.

Other Ways to Improve the Fit of Your Shoes

Get Your Feet Measured

As well as lacing your shoes in a particular way to relieve pressure, it’s a great idea to get your feet professionally measured. You can do this at any shoe store.

Once you understand the measurements of your feet, it’s easier to buy shoes that fit you properly. This may even eliminate the need for fancy lacing techniques!

Buy a Different Size or Width

Not all shoe brands have the same size range. For example, you might wear a size 8 in dress shoes or work shoes, but the same size running shoe could be too small.

This is another reason it’s best to understand your foot’s measurements rather than a simple sizing system. If you know the inch or millimeter size of your foot, you’ll always be able to choose the right size.

Buy Shoes With the Right Support

Choosing running shoes that support your feet in the way they need to be supported is essential. If you’ve got high arches or flat feet, lacing techniques can help. But it’s best to choose a pair of shoes that supports you correctly from the start.

You can always use the lacing style to add extra protection against whatever foot condition you have.

Photo of author


Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.

Leave a Comment