This piece first appeared in the October issue of Competitor Magazine.

Written by: Wendy Wilson

Photo: Scott Draper

Sure, elastic shoelaces seem like a good idea for runners, but are they really?

It depends on what you’re training for, said Aaron Hersh, gear guru for Triathlete magazine, sister publication to Competitor. Elastic laces crisscross down the shoe like traditional static laces, but rather than being knotted off, they’re locked in place. This allows the runner to slip shoes on and off quickly and easily—no tying and untying required.

“Elastic laces are typically used by triathletes,” Hersh said. “They’re able to change into their shoes quickly in the second transition without having to tie the knot on the laces.”

For competitive runners, however, elastic shoelaces may do more harm than good, Hersh said.

“The connection between the runner’s foot and the sole of the shoe suffers when using elastic laces,” he said. “It’s not a dramatic change; it’s a subtle change, but the foot is able to move around slightly more in the shoe. Elastic laces lead to a higher chance of developing blisters on the underside of the foot.”

Of course, individual results may vary.

“A lot of it has to do with the type of shoe,” he continued. “But switching from normal-fabric laces that do not stretch to elastic laces reduces the quality of the bond between the foot and the sole of the shoe.”