Tuesday, 10 September 2019

A new lacing option or not?

It is known that the mid-line of the foot is where the 2nd toe meets the 3rd. It begs the question if a sandal using this mid-line point as a toe-post would work. I had ignored this possibility for a long time but eventually got around to crafting this "innovative" lacing system. I was curious to know if it would work and I could take minimalist running into a new realm of natural movement!

It took a while to work out where the ideal new point would be because the gap the between the 2nd and 3rd toes is not that well defined ... or my toes are a little stumpy!  A little digging with a pen marked the point but was this to be trusted? I also used the normal toe-post location between the big toe and 2nd toe as a guide to help locate the new anchor point which interestingly was located slightly in front of the aforementioned - in other words closer to the front of the sandal. 

As a safety measure I also inserted a tiny loop at the traditional "correct" toe-post point just in case I wanted to ditch the new innovation and restore my new sandals to trusted legacy lacing!

And so I set off. At first it felt very awkward and unbalanced. I wasn't sure how to position my feet and I wasn't able to rely on the foot sitting naturally in the sandal. Much of this was due to the fact that the laces were not tensioned properly and this created a new problem - how to tension the laces?

Trying and trying again was all I could do and I must admit the difficultly in getting it right. Even when it was working I knew the tension was not perfect, especially in the heel strap which I couldn't set correctly. As a result of this the sandal sat well for short walks but for anything longer it tended to be unstable.

Much of the lacing difficulty was due to the fact that it was simply too painful to put too much tension in the laces. It really hurt. This was very interesting because, as regular sandal runners will attest, a lace between the first and second toe is never painful and remains pressure free if setup correctly.

I tried for a couple of weeks to get accustomed to the new lacing. I kept these sandals on all day for days at a time. But in the end I gave up. There was simply no point in pursuing this painful exercise. 

While it felt good to have a little more freedom of the big toe and slightly better proprioception, there was no apparent benefit to the new lacing. After a month I cut off the radical toe-straps and inserted new ones using the tiny loops I had inserted during early construction. My sandals were restored to traditional lacing.

Now they look like this:

And now I have even used them for a few short comfortable runs!