They link to these photos:

shows different lacing techniques for running shoes: 1. Black toenail, 2. Heel slipping, 3. High instep, 4. Narrow forefoot, 5. Overall roomier fit, 6. Wide forefoot

lacing diagram: left lace goes from aglet to toe, right zig zags through every hole

The claim is that this lacing technique is effective at protecting the toenail on your big toe from being blackened (subungual hematoma).

Is this true?

The most authoritative source that I found was (Adams, Brian B. "Traumatic Injuries to the Nails and Toes." Sports Dermatology (2006): 262-281), which says:

Lacing techniques can prevent the foot from freely slamming into the toe box, especially on downhill courses when there is a great deal of force pushing the toenail into the end of the shoe.

However, he simply asserts that without reference to empirical evidence, so it seems to be just a restatement of the claim.

I also found a chapter/article (Werd, Matthew B. "Athletic Shoe Lacing in Sports Medicine." In Athletic Footwear and Orthoses in Sports Medicine, pp. 79-87. Springer New York, 2010.) that repeats this claim, and calls the technique the "Distal–Medial Eyelet Lacing Technique", but again, there are no references or any mention of empirical evidence. He says that the purpose is to "pull the upper material off of the big toe and decrease the pressure on the great toe and joint".

  • 1
    and also in "The Shoelace problem" cs.unc.edu/techreports/92-032.pdf where it is referred to as "shoe shop quick lacing" or "shoe shop lacing", but that doesn't answer the question either.
    – DavePhD
    Jul 2, 2015 at 15:32
  • 5
    @nomenagentis: You show 7 different shoe lacing techniques in screenshots, which one are you asking about? Jul 4, 2015 at 10:28
  • 6
    Wonder how much trimming toenails back would impact this condition. Oct 18, 2018 at 20:23
  • 2
    It seems to me that 7 years later there is an abscence of evidence presented, which to me suggests that the effects are overstated. From personal experience, a smaller shoe size leads to black toes when running longer distances, a larger sho size less so.
    – ghellquist
    Aug 4, 2022 at 6:50
  • 2
    @ghellquist Seconded. I'm a hiker--and blackened toenails on downhills is even more of an issue for us because we do so much more of it. I've never seen mention of anything about lacing other than it needs to be secure. Protecting your toenails is all about shoe size. Oct 2, 2023 at 2:30


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