Shoelaces are there for a reason
By Joe Black | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This may be one of those columns that confirms my old fogey-ism but have you ever wondered why (mostly) teenagers never want to tie and untie their shoes? Maybe you haven’t noticed but I sure have.
I guess it starts with injuries because that’s mostly when I see them.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the most frequent sports injury is the ankle sprain. The classic sprain is where the foot turns to the inside, injuring the outside of the ankle. More commonly the result of jumping and then landing on someone else’s foot, it can happen while alone while simply stepping off of a curb.
If you have injured your ankle, there are a couple of keys to deciding maybe what you’ve done. First, let me teach you a couple of terms. “Inversion” is when your foot turns to the inside. Since the ankle sort of goes out, some people mistakenly describe what happened to them by saying that their ankle turned “out.” What’s important here isn’t what happens at the ankle but what happens to the foot.
“Eversion” is where the foot goes to the outside.
Now here’s the important part of that. If you have an eversion injury and it hurts on the inside of your ankle, you can probably ice it and watch it for a few hours to see what happens.
If you have an eversion injury and it hurts on the outside of your ankle, you very well may have broken your ankle and need to avoid weightbearing and get it evaluated, particularly if the pain is severe.
If you have an inversion injury and it hurts on the inside of your ankle, you can probably ice that one too and watch it for a few hours. However, if an hour later you can describe the pain as severe, then you should have it seen about.
And if you have an inversion injury and it hurts on the outside of your ankle, you probably have a garden-variety ankle sprain and need to put ice on it, rest it, and elevate it. If severe pain lasts for more than a few hours, get medical attention.
None of this is meant to be a substitute for medical attention to any injury. But the fact of the matter is that most people will do one of three things when they hurt their ankle: Do nothing, do the right thing (Rest Ice Compression Elevation), or do the wrong thing. Maybe the first and last are the same.
In other words, most people self-treat ankle injuries anyway so I’m just trying to help you make smarter decisions and understand what is going on.
Now back to the shoelace thing.
Let me tell you first that laces on athletic shoes are there for a reason. Do this: Look at your running shoes. See those stripes and bands on the side? Those are there for a purpose. When your shoelaces are snugged up, those stripes pull up on the shoe so that it cradles and protects the foot. Bands that go from front to back are there primarily to assist in cupping and supporting the heel.
You can prevent a lot of injuries by having well-fitted shoes with the laces up tight. And that means also that you untie your shoes when you take them off and re-tie them when you put them back on. Tucking your laces into your shoes, making them so you can simply slip them off and on without bothering with the laces defeats the purpose of the shoe. You might as well wear houseshoes (or those flimsy, rubbery things that too many people wear that I will not name because I don’t really like to be sued) around for all the good your shoes are to you.
So now parents, feel vindicated because what you’ve been preaching forever is now gospel.
Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Write to him at (email@example.com)