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See:

They link to these photos:

http://www.runnersworld.co.za/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2011/03/How-To-Lace-Your-Shoes-2-213x300.jpg

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".

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    I found that there was research available in the area, but behind paywalls. Anyone with access to journals may want to investigate! – Oddthinking Jun 29 '15 at 5:01
  • @Oddthinking: How much do you have to pay to get through the paywall? – Display name Jul 2 '15 at 3:30
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    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 '15 at 15:32
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    @nomenagentis: You show 7 different shoe lacing techniques in screenshots, which one are you asking about? – Display name Jul 4 '15 at 10:28
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    Wonder how much trimming toenails back would impact this condition. – PoloHoleSet Oct 18 '18 at 20:23
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Black, bruised and ulcerated toenails are a plague for many who run long distances. The toenails fall off and, each time they regrow, they are thinner than before. I've known several Ironman competitors who have resorted to getting themselves "declawed" to avoid further toenail loss issues.

The main issues regarding black/bruised toenails from running are to ensure proper fit and sufficient holdback of the foot during your run. When standing with the shoes on and, with the feet spread, there should be a minimum of 8mm-1cm from the end of the longest (big) toe to the end of the toe box. That's about the diameter of your baby finger.

Of the six lacing methods shown, number 1 will provide the best holdback of the foot during each landing strike. Ensure the laces are tied tightly through the instep, but don't constrain the toes and reduce circulation in the feet. Also of importance is to ensure you land on your heels with each stride; not on your instep or forefoot. This ensures better shock absorption and helps prevent driving the toes into the end of the toe box.

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    I'm sorry, but you need to provide references in your answer or your answer is going to be flagged and deleted. – DenisS Feb 10 '20 at 21:04
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    Welcome to Skeptics! Please provide some references to support your claims. – Oddthinking Feb 10 '20 at 22:32
  • -1 The last sentences are wrong, it is considered bad running form to land on the heel, and it definitely doesn't provide better absorption – clabacchio Mar 17 '20 at 15:52

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