prevent foot pain using lacing techniquesIf you live in Seattle, you have limited days to spend hiking in our gorgeous mountains and beautiful urban parks.

Our season is so short that you don’t want to spend time figuring out how to keep your feet from giving you trouble. So often hikers are plagued with painful, black, ugly, ingrown, and fungal toenails. Blisters, heel pain, top of foot pain, and ball of foot pain are also common culprits among trekkers.

While finding comfortable hiking boots suited to the type of hiking you do goes without saying. you can also learn some simple lacing techniques to prevent foot problems on the trail.

Lacing Hacks for Preventing Painful Toenails and Blisters

You may experience painful problems with your feet when hiking because your feet slide forward in your boots. This can do two things.

  • Cause your toes to repeatedly hit the front of your boot resulting in micro damage to your nail. The nail bed can lift, your nail can get distorted, fungus can get in, and your nail can bleed and get black.
  • Cause your feet to rub against the inside of your shoes causing blisters.

Two lacing hacks for helping keep your feet back in your shoes or boots are:

Lace Lock or Heel Lock for Trail Shoes

At the top of your trail shoes, you’ll notice two eyelets right next to each other. That extra eyelet isn’t just for show but will help you lace your shoes to keep your feet from sliding forward. 


Surgeon’s Knot for Heavier Duty Hiking Boots

While most of us use trail shoes for many easier hikes with heavy-duty boots, a different type of lacing hack is needed to keep your feet from slipping forward. For that, you need a Surgeon’s Knot.

Adding two Surgeon’s Knots to your boots at the top of your instep will help tremendously. After taking any slack out of your boots by tightening all your laces, wrap the laces around each other twice before attaching them to a nearby lace hook to create this knot. Here's how!


Lacing to Relieve Top-of-Foot Pressure When Hiking

You can use a more open-style type of lacing in shoes and boots if you have high arches and a high instep or have pain on the top of your foot for some other reason. REI offers a technique called “Window Lacing” to accomplish the same thing with hiking boots.


Lacing to Relieve Ball of Foot Pain When Hiking

One of the most common types of ball of foot pain is Morton’s Neuroma. When the bundle of nerves between your 3rd and 4th toes enlarges it can cause pain in that part of your foot. Pressure from shoes or boots can make the pain feel worse, particularly when hiking. To relieve this pressure, you can use this lacing technique.

lacing to relieve ball of foot pain when hikingFor boots, REI makes the same recommendation. Skip the bottom two hooks on your boots and instead start your lacing one hook up. See photo.

Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.
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