Top of Foot Pain

I’ve struggled through run training cycles in the past… many times.

Typically, the pain I’ve dealt with is on the right side – knee, foot, hip. While these are standard runner injury spots, for me it likely links back to my broken hip (11 years ago). The slight imbalance has magnified over time, and has made training more of a challenge.

For my current training cycle, in an attempt to avoid this problem, I started back at the basics – knee strength, hip flexibility, pre-run warmups, etc. This has been working very well… until recently.

The tipping point for me is usually around runs of 4-5 miles. I’ll start to feel pain in the top of my right foot. It’s bearable, but in the past has been the beginning of the end. Once that pain sets in, I’m sure I favor the opposite leg to take pressure off my foot (right), which leads to pain in other places, which leads to no more running.

So, naturally, when I started feeling this pain after several months of gently building up base mileage and strength, I got nervous. I re-researched this issue and came across the same tales of tendonitis and other common top of foot runner injuries.

And, then I saw it.

I found an article talking about high arches/high instep and shoe lacing. Essentially, if you have a higher arch in your foot, standard shoe lacing may be compressing the top of the shoe/tongue against that arch, causing pain while running. Alternative lacing techniques can remove that pressure and make running more comfortable.

Best described at Ian’s Shoelace Site: “Also referred to as “Lydiard Lacing” or “Fashion Lacing”, this variation of Straight Lacing eliminates the underlying diagonals, which looks neater plus relieves pressure on the top ridge of the foot.”

Ian’s shows you how to correctly lace the shoe, based on the number of eyelets. Very easy to follow along.

This article at explains the issue along with the history of how the lacing style came about. There is also a quick video detailing the process.

So, I did it. Only my right shoe (for now). I also adjusted my hiking boots and a pair of runners I use everyday for work/wandering. The results were amazing.

I did a 5 mile run… with no top of foot pain. Then, 3 days later, a 7 mile run… no top of foot pain. Almost miraculous.

I’m still cautious, but if this simple fix allows me to train longer, and wander more, I’m sold.

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