Lock Lacing

Lacing (pic)

Vertical segments with the opposite ends passing underneath form “pulleys” for extra tightening, locking the heels for less slippage in running or climbing shoes.

Eight pairs of eyelets, variation 1

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Lacing Technique – Variation 1 – High Lock

• Lace the shoe up to the second-from-top eyelets using any lacing method (eg. Criss Cross Lacing is shown here).

• The ends run straight up on the outside and in through the top eyelets.

• The ends are crossed, then each end is fed under the vertical section on the opposite side.

• The ends are returned to the middle for tying, which pulls the vertical sections inwards.


• Variation 1 has the lace ends emerging from the top eyelets before passing under the “locks”.

• Variation 2 has the lace ends emerging from the second-from-top eyelets before passing under the “locks”. This results in the knot sitting slightly lower.

• Variation 3 replaces the vertical “locks” with locking “loops”. These are less effective at tightening but more effective at locking, which helps with slippery shoelaces.


Tightens firmly

Reduces slippage

Harder to loosen

“Shortens” ends


• Also referred to as “Lace Lock”, “Loop Lacing Lock”, “Heel Lock” or “Runner's Tie”.

Lock Lacing is also used by rock climbers to prevent any movement or twisting of the shoe under the stresses of climbing, as well as by speed skaters to give maximum ankle support.

• Although Criss Cross Lacing is shown in these examples, and is probably the most common method used, the shoe can be laced with almost any lacing method. In fact, as pointed out by Kyle B., Ladder Lacing naturally ends with a similar “Lace Lock.”

Lock Lacing is one of the suggested odd workarounds for implementing Straight Bar Lacing on shoes with an odd number of eyelet pairs.

Lock Lacing also creates more friction, which should help prevent the knot from coming loose, especially with slippery synthetic shoelaces or if you are unknowingly using a Granny Knot. Replacing slippery shoelaces or changing your Shoelace Knot are better alternatives.

Lock Lacing Theory

Many shoe stores recommend Lock Lacing techniques to help prevent slippage, and many people swear by them. In fact, many sports shoes have twin eyelets at the top to suit Lock Lacing. So what's behind the “magic”?

The answer is simple leverage. While pulling the lacing tight, the upper straight sections get pulled into a triangular shape, acting like “pulleys” to provide even greater tightening.

When shopping for shoes, don't be too impressed by a savvy shoe salesperson using Lock Lacing to get a slightly better fit from an unsuitable pair of shoes! If you've found some shoes that meet all of your other needs with the exception of a bit of heel slippage, then Lock Lacing could be the ideal solution. However, if there is a fair bit of heel slippage, Lock Lacing will only help so much, and it could be wiser to seek some better fitting shoes.

Shoe lacing photo

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Shoelace Lengths for Lock Lacing

Variation 1 – High Lock
Pairs of
length needed
ends by
8 pairs136 cm54 in–1.4 cm–0.6 in
7 pairs126 cm50 in–1.4 cm–0.6 in
6 pairs115 cm45 in–1.4 cm–0.6 in
5 pairs105 cm41 in–1.4 cm–0.6 in
4 pairs94 cm37 in–1.4 cm–0.6 in
3 pairs84 cm33 in–1.4 cm–0.6 in
2 pairs73 cm29 in–1.4 cm–0.6 in
Variation 2 – Low Lock
Pairs of
length needed
ends by
8 pairs138 cm54 in–2.1 cm–0.8 in
7 pairs127 cm50 in–2.1 cm–0.8 in
6 pairs117 cm46 in–2.1 cm–0.8 in
5 pairs106 cm42 in–2.1 cm–0.8 in
4 pairs96 cm38 in–2.1 cm–0.8 in
3 pairs85 cm34 in–2.1 cm–0.8 in
2 pairs = (N/A)
Variation 3 – Looped Lock
Pairs of
length needed
ends by
8 pairs144 cm57 in–5.3 cm–2.1 in
7 pairs133 cm53 in–5.3 cm–2.1 in
6 pairs123 cm48 in–5.3 cm–2.1 in
5 pairs112 cm44 in–5.3 cm–2.1 in
4 pairs102 cm40 in–5.3 cm–2.1 in
3 pairs91 cm36 in–5.3 cm–2.1 in
2 pairs81 cm32 in–5.3 cm–2.1 in

NOTE: These are approximate shoelace lengths for using this lacing on an average sized sneaker. For more accurate lengths, use the Shoelace Length Calculator.

Comparative Length

• Longer shoelaces needed than those for basic Criss Cross Lacing.

• If the original shoelaces are re-used, this method effectively shortens the ends.

More details about length comparisons.

Visitor Feedback

I just recently bought some gorgeous suede Pascal Docs, but because of how soft the leather is, there was quite a bit of heel slippage in spite of my insoles. I tried the full Lock Lacing method but found it too tight for my liking – plus it was hard to loosen which is important for me – so I left the eighth eyelet alone and it works like a charm.

– Dominika N., Feb-2024

I recently acquired a pair of Corcoran 1500s, timeless to style, but time-consuming to lace with 12 eyelet pairs! Using an under-over from the bottom to the 5th eyelet for keeping my foot secure, adding the gap/army lacing “jump” to skip over the 6th eyelet that cut into my leg when moving and put undue tension on the leather, finishing with 4 rows of bar lacing to provide even and comfortable support, then using the 11th and 12th eyelets to form a lace lock, I made my already perfect jump boots even better!

– James D., Aug-2022

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

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This page last updated: 09-Apr-2024. Copyright © 2005-2024 by Ian W. Fieggen. All rights reserved.

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