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Shoe Lacing Techniques to Reduce Friction Blisters

shoe lacing holes

We know friction causes blisters, which leads to foot ulcers in people with diabetes and neuropathy. There are a couple shoe lacing techniques I’d like to share with you to help reduce the friction in your shoes.

If you have a high arch foot type, the top of your foot may rub against the tongue of the shoe.

Feel where the prominence is on the shoe so you know which holes you can skip in the shoe lace.

For this situation, I recommend feeling the top of your foot while it’s in the shoe for the prominence. Then re-do the laces so they skip the holes nearest the foot prominence. This puts less pressure on the foot in that area.

Skipping some of the holes in the shoe lacing can help avoid excessive pressure on the prominence.

If our shoes are not laced tight enough, the foot slips back and forth inside the shoe. If it slips enough, the toe can jam into the front of the shoe cause problems with the toenail, and the heel can jam the back of the shoe causing thick calluses. The key is to tie the laces tighter near the ankle.

This is where you want to tighten the laces.

If the laces at the top are too loose, the foot will slip and slide around in the shoe.

Basketball shoes and hiking boots are also great at locking the ankle into the shoe.

Heel Lock Lacing Technique

Some shoes, particularly running shoes, have extra holes at the top to allow a heel lock lacing technique. This is a stronger hold around the ankle than tying a regular knot.


Create loops on each side with the laces going through the extra holes, go across and through the loop, pull up towards you to tighten, and then tie the shoe like you would normally. If you’re confused on how to do this, there are tons of great videos on, just look up “heel lock lacing”.


Heel lock lacing technique

Usually shoes are well padded around the ankle. If you have diabetes and neuropathy and decide to try these techniques, check your feet frequently in the beginning to make sure it’s not causing a new problem. With that said, the overwhelming majority of diabetic foot problems are from shoes that are too loose, wearing slippers, or even going barefoot. So I commend you for reading this article and sticking with shoes!

Have trouble tying shoes?

If you have some difficulty or cannot tie your shoes, you can replace your shoelaces for an elastic one. It’s not as good as regular shoe laces, but better than Velcro or slippers. Lace locks are a great option to easily slip into and out of your shoes without having to tie your shoes. It replaces your shoelaces with an elastic lace. Even though it is not as good as tying regular shoe laces, using elastic laces are better than resorting to slippers.

Dr Haywan Chiu, DPM Haywan Chiu

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