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How to Tie a Heel Lock, Heel Lock Lacing

What Is Heel Lock Lacing?

Heel lock lacing is a shoe tying method that (as its name suggests) locks the heel into place to help prevent heel slippage so that your toes don’t get jammed into the front of your boot or shoe.

It’s the best shoe lacing method I know of to aid in preventing nasty blisters and dreaded purple or black toenails. Furthermore it’s an ideal lacing method for activities like running or hiking.

The finished results on the Thorogood 6″ moc
The finished results on the Thorogood 6″ moc toe, a pair of rugged work boots.

Lacing techniques for unique feet

Every foot is a little different. Luckily there are lacing techniques for every type of foot.  

High insteps

This is caused by bone or nerve conditions. It results in your body weight being localized on the ball and heel. Because the arch of the foot is higher than usual, it doesn’t distribute weight the way it ought to. It can cause a great deal of pain, even leading sometimes to plantar fasciitis. Lacing windows relieve the pressure on the arch and create relief. A lacing window is just a fancy name for “not crossing your laces over a particular part of your foot.” Basically, you find the part of your foot that feels compressed or that’s prone to sore spots and instead of lacing diagonally over that area, you pass the laces up an eyelet or a hook vertically. This creates a space in your laces that alleviates the pressure of a high arch. Lacing windows are also effective for other kinds of swelling across the tops of your feet, no matter the cause. Another way to alleviate pressure in your foot is to use parallel lacing. Instead of your boot laces crossing back and forth over each other, they run in parallel lines across the width of your boot. In order to accomplish this, you start by completely unlacing your boots except for the line that runs across the toe. Take one end of your lace and, staying on the same side of the boot, skip one eyelet and bring the lace up through the second one up. Cross the lace over to the other side of the boot and enter it into the eyelet opposite. Then, staying on that side of the boot, skip up one eyelet and bring the lace through the next one. Repeat this pattern with both sides of the shoelace until you’ve laced the entire boot, then tie it off.  

Toe-relief lacing

If your toes feel squished, you can fix this by tying your shoe twice. Just like with parallel lacing, you untie your boot all the way down to the line running across the toe. Re-lace your boot halfway up, whichever way feels best to you, then tie it off. Then take a second shoelace and start lacing again at the next eyelet up. Lace the boot all the way to the top with the second shoelace, then tie it off at the top with a heel lock. This allows you to adjust the tension on the toe laces without having to re-tie the entire boot. You can also alleviate toe -pressure by unlacing your boot completely, then re-lacing it, skipping the bottom eyelets and starting at the second ones up.  

Cuff pressure

Low Volume If you feel excess pressure in the upper part of your boot, above the ankle, you should also consider an alternate method of lacing in order to reduce skin irritation there. In order to alleviate it, finish by bringing the laces over the top of the final hooks and then tying off your boots.  

Low Volume

For those that have narrow feet, consider using the low volume knot to create a cushion for your feet. 1. Start by tightening the laces, like guitar strings, where the laces first loop out. 
2. Tie a surgeon’s knot to secure the top of your foot. 3. Lace around the first hook top-down. 4. Move on to the next hook, still looping your laces top-down. 
5. Tie a second surgeon’s knot. 
6. Follow this procedure until you reach the top hook and tighten your laces. Notice how this technique holds your foot securely without causing excessive pressure or irritation? Yeah, it’s a life changer.


How To Heel Lock Lace Your Boots (Or Shoes)

Here I’ve provided 4 quick and simple steps to achieve the heel lock. I’ve also provided gifs that go along with each step to help for those who prefer visual learning.

Step 1:

First you crossover lace as normal until you reach

First you crossover lace as normal until you reach the final 2 speed hooks on each side. Start by fastening the lace to both speed hooks on whichever side you like, then cross the lace over to the other side.

Step 2:

Next, you slide the laces up both speed hooks on t

Next, you slide the laces up both speed hooks on the other side, going overtop of the lace that you crossed over in the previous step.

Step 3:

Third, where the magic happens. You take the lace

Third, where the magic happens. You take the lace that you just fastened and cross that over to the other side, sliding beneath the vertical lace and pulling all the way through. It should look something like a frog’s face.

Step 4:

Finally, it’s time to put the finishing touc

Finally, it’s time to put the finishing touches on and lace ’em up! You could now tie your shoes as normal, but when the laces are long enough, I like to wrap my laces around the back of the boots and then finish the knot. I think it looks pretty cool and provides a bit more support above the ankle. Voila!

Visitor Feedback

I have recently retrained as an EMT, which involves wearing boots and standing for long periods of time. Initially, I found my uniform boots were very uncomfortable.

I was then directed to your site by an online EMT resource. As a result of this I tried a different method of lacing, the gap lacing method, with the lace lock to finish. I cant believe they’re the same boots! This has made them so much more comfortable and my 12 hour shifts don’t cause any foot pain.

– Lisa D., London, UK, Apr-2016

Even with a regularly tied bow, the shoelaces were still too long. Both the bow and the loose ends were almost touching the floor. So I googled some solutions, stumbled across your site again, and decided to try Lock Lacing because it took advantage of an extra eyelet on the side of my shoe that wasn’t laced up yet.

– Andrei R., USA, Apr-2014

I was trying on a pair of Ecco Shoes that I really liked but the heal was slipping, The young salesman said, “let me try a different lacing” and did a lock type at the top of the shoe. It was remarkable how it not only lessened the slippage but also solved a problem I have had with tied shoes for 60 years. I have an overly sensitive area at the top of my foot. Most shoes that are tied tight put pressure on that area and result in discomfort, the lock lacing doesn’t do that.

– Tim E., USA, Oct-2010

Also been recommending lock lacing to our customers buying running shoes, as it works really well for me. I also use it on my etnies as a good way to finish the bar lacing as I have an odd number of eyelets (as pictured)

– Alex H., UK, Nov-2009

I must take exception to a comment you have regarding “Lock Lacing”. You seem to be of the opinion that it is not the answer if there is some heel movement in a running shoe. I disagree, in certain circumstances. If there is very minor slippage, it makes a world of difference. If the fit is way too wide for the person’s heel, the heel will still move. There are many runners who use “Lock Lacing” – so many that it’s actually referred to as the “Heel Lock” over here – with no adverse effects, including me. The problem with switching to another shoe that fits the heel more snugly is that the make or model may not suit the runner. Every company uses a different cushioning system and some use different systems in each model. Shoes that fit the heels slightly better are not going to be any good if the cushioning system is such that the runner can’t or won’t wear them. For example, Saucony running shoes fit my heel better than either Reebok or ASICS, but I can’t wear Sauconys because the cushioning does not suit the way I land: my forefoot goes numb within a couple of kilometres. I don’t have that problem with any other make of running shoe I’ve tried. “Lock Lacing” allows me to use other models that would cause blisters otherwise. It is a simple and effective answer for many.

– Jim G., USA, Apr-2009

I recently ran the Ridge to Bridge Marathon in the mountains of North Carolina, USA (I live in Greensboro, NC, USA). This race is unique because the first 14 miles are downhill. The race director suggested using the lock lacing method to keep the shoe snug and to prevent the loosening of the laces since it was so much down hill. I used the method and it worked great.

– Thad M., NC, USA, Nov-2008

I do have one comment on Lock Lacing. What you describe as the negative feature — harder to loosen — is actually why it’s a useful technique. The laces below the lock area are pretty much isolated from the area above — if one is not using one of your improved tying methods and the shoe comes untied, the forefoot won’t loosen up very fast, or at all. Because of my physiology, when I used this lacing method, I use it for exactly the opposite of what you say it’s most useful for. I need the top bit to not be tight (high instep and heel bumps) but like the forefoot tight, especially with racing flats. with lock lacing, I can do that.

– Larry M., IN, USA, Jul-2006

i also randomly discovered that ladder lacing combines PERFECTLY with lock lacing. since ladder lacing forms loops between all the eyelets, you can use the last one for lock lacing. my shoes have never felt tighter than they do now in this configuration.

– Kyle B., MD, USA, Nov-2005

I stop at the second from the top eye and then on the same side of the shoe pass it through the top eye forming a loop. The lace is then passed through the loop formed on the opposite side. A bow is then tied but it has no weight on it because of the previous instruction. If the knot does become undone it will not slip, hopefully. I was shown this method by a woman at ‘Just Comfort’ shoes, Stones Corner, Qld.

– Ian M., Australia, Apr-2004

Frequently asked questions about buying laces


Why buy quick shoe laces?

There are many reasons to buy quick shoe laces. The main reason is for convenience. For example, there are some circumstances where you might need to change your shoes quickly—to go from work clothes to exercise gear, or vice versa.

It could be because you work in the fitness industry and need quick access to different kinds of footwear for different exercises or classes.

Maybe you have a favourite pair of shoes that fit tightly around your feet—and it’s difficult to lace through the eyelets every time you wear them—and so you want an alternative option that will allow you more flexibility with how fast or slow your shoes feel on your feet.

There are other reasons as well! If you’re into sports, maybe running is your thing, and you need to change shoes quickly in order to race in various distances. Or maybe you rock climb—in which case, laces would be a hindrance rather than helpful. All of these reasons make buying quick shoe laces an excellent choice!

Buy quick shoes laces

Why buy round shoe laces?

While shopping for shoes, you will undoubtedly encounter an array of laces. Laces come in many shapes and sizes. Some shoelaces are a perfect circle, others a flat oval, while some have a slight curve to them.

Few people realize that all of these shapes serve one specific purpose: To make sure the shoe lacing process goes smoothly.

Since it is common knowledge that different styles of shoes require different methods of tightening them up, it makes sense that certain types of laces would be better suited for specific purposes than others.

For instance, round shoe laces are ideal for dress shoes because they allow the wearer to tighten the lacing quickly and with ease since there is no extra string left hanging from the eyelets on either side of the shoe.

Another important thing to keep in mind when buying round shoelaces is that certain materials fare better than others when it comes to holding up over time. Poor quality laces won’t be able to withstand the test of time and can easily snap under pressure, which defeats the purpose of using them in the first place.

It’s important that you take care when picking out which type of material or style will look best for your shoes.

Remember that round shoe laces are only meant to tighten, not support your foot like athletic shoelaces would do. By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be sure to find exactly what your shoes need (and deserve) no matter how formal or casual they may be!

Buy round shoe laces

Why buy reflective rope laces?

While it seems like everyone has started using LED lights to increase visibility, you might be surprised to know that the cheapest way is still through putting on a reflective rope shoe laces.

The white or yellow-ish/silver shoes with these neon ropes make your feet look as if they are glowing from within! Which they sort of are.

Plus, they’re inexpensive and come in different colours too.

In addition, the reflective ropes can be worn during day time as well for greater safety.

These reflective shoe strings reflect light back to headlights of cars when a driver crosses over them at night. They serve as an edge warning during dusk and dawn hours where headlights cannot reach every place by crossing the edge of roads.

Buy reflective rope laces