Forum: Highland / Highland

Lacing Highland Dance Shoes-A note from Craig Coussins 'Hullachan'
By Hullachan_ShoesPremium member
On Mon Apr 20, 2009 06:15 AM

Tying the shoes the correct way?

I can not and will not tell a dance teacher how to teach. ThatÂ’s not my job. My job is to offer research and solutions to issues that arise in shoe fitting and manufacturing.
However with the knowledge that we have, causing long term injury to dancers by telling them information that may incur dancers to come back to the source and question the injuries sustained by following the recommendations about what is and what is not the right way to tie shoes on their feet is something that may arise in the future. Hence that is why I should offer alternative information based on study and publicly available information that will help the dancer to avoid injury from incorrect lacing methods.
I designed a new way to tie the shoes. There is a short video on my website if you wish to look at the process of tying.

This only applies to my Hullachan designs. Please look at the website page with the video here: www.hullachan.com . . .

Lacing
1. Lace normally up to the last set of eyelets or loops.
2. Cross over the laces.
3. Lace the end of the lace through the SECOND set of eyelets from the inside.
4. Take through the back loop.
5. Pull the heel up onto the foot with the laces.
6. Lace through the FIRST set of eyelets now.
7. Pull the excess lace from the front of the foot through the eyelets.
8. Tie in front and either cut off or tuck in.
Always pull the heel up tightly when your laces are thru' the back loop and then pull the sides up when the side eyelets are laced.
THIS WILL STOP THE SHOE DIGGING INTO YOUR ACHILLES AND REDUCE DAMAGE OVER THE ARCH OF THE FOOT.
Always pull the heel up tightly when your laces are thru' the back loop and then pull the sides up when the side eyelets are laced.
Tying around the Arch:

Tying around the arch was, and has been the method used by dancers for over 50 years. However my own medical research resulted in the simple prognosis that tying around the arch will inevitably damage the foot and it pressures on the softer long tendons of the arch. Some dancers have very strong feet and they may well be able to take lacing around the arch but the greater majority of dancers will find that tying around the arch will cause their feet to become sore and that is the indicator that this method of holding shoes onto the feet is inherently damaging. Its no good me telling you this without having a solution of course and I worked for two years to discover a method of tying that would neither damage the feet or cause long term injury. I was successful in that endeavor. The Hullachan lacing method is the better way to hold your shoes on without that long term self damage caused by tying around the arch.

Achilles problems.
In this thread there has been some mention of Achilles damage. Here are the results of my own research.

Achilles tendonitis can be caused by a number of factors. These can include simply ignoring any pain at the back of the leg of heel, extra classes preparing for a Championship or show, such as dancing twice a week and suddenly practicing five times a week. Breaking in a new shoe that is far too stiff, and not warming up, or cooling down properly. Fortunately, you are a body and not a machine, however, machines break and so can bodies. Be sensible and warm up correctly.

Shoe pressure at the back of the foot, tying laces around the mid foot which stops the full functionality of the foot joints, getting kicked or damaging the tendon at the heel or just above the heel area.

Damage to Tendons from Dance Shoes?

I was asked about this in November 2005 at one of my lectures in dacne Injury and avoidance. This was in regard to the difference between different dance shoes. The question was that if 18% of ballet dancers will suffer an Achilles injury at some stage in their dance life how does that compare to other Dance. This was my answer:

It depends on the dance discipline. In Highland Dance, around 35% of dancers will get some form of tendonitis injury and Achilles is one of the more common ones experienced by Highland Dancers. In ballet the damage can be caused by faulty landing and twisting but the cause of Achilles in Ballet is nearly always caused by the tapes or laces being tied too tightly around the ankle, causing compression of the sheath and subsequent damage.

In Highland and Irish Dance, the damage is further caused by tying around the arch that can reduce blood flow to the extremities of the foot. The tying around the ankle is secondary here but in tandem with the arch constriction then that sets the dancer up for an Achilles or tendonitis injury. In Irish Dance, there is likelihood of around 30 to 40% chance for an Achilles or arch tendon damage if the dancer ties their laces around the arch.

This was well researched by both me and many leading dance injury specialists including work done by the famous Justin Howse who wrote the book, Dance Technique and Injury Prevention with his associate, Shirley Hancock back in 1988. Mr Howse was the senior consultant and orthopedic surgeon to the Royal Ballet Schools, The Royal Academy of Dance and the Remedial Dance Clinic, London. Ms. Hancock was the senior physiotherapist to the to the Royal Ballet Schools, The Royal Academy of Dance and the Remedial Dance Clinic, London. I have consulted with them over the years when I was the fitter for over 150 Ballet companies all over the world. My own research in the 35 years of fitting to improve my range of Ballet shoes and to try and reduce injury which is rampant in Ballet, resulted in the creation of the Hullachan Highland range of shoes. None of the ballet shoe manufacturers I spoke to was, at that time, willing to invest in that research to reduce injury and so I started my own company making Highland and Irish Dance shoes. Why? Well I am part Scottish and Irish, my mother was a famous Dance teacher and Adjudicator, Sadie Simpson (Coussins) and I invested everything I had to make that dream happen-at least for Irish and Scottish dancers.


Treatment for Achilles Tendonitis.

R.I.C.E. treatment is, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation, so please get that into play immediately to reduce the problem and do it at least three times a day over three or four days.. See a doctor as soon as you can. If your Achilles is getting less painful still continue treatment of R.I.C.E. for the next two to four weeks or until it is healed.

Reduce practice of course to about half of that you normally do. Avoid too much stretching. However saying that use correct stretching and if you do get an attack of Achilles tendonitis from your dancing, do not stretch too enthusiastically, but continue to stretch gently or if attending a doctor, follow their advice. Avoid stair, wall, incline and towel stretches. Try not contract the muscles in the initial period of pain.

If this does not show positive results, use a firm heel support or lift of no more than a quarter inch or half a centimeter. Do not use flat shoes in day-to-day use such as trainers. The idea is to relieve the pressure on the tendon so that it does not stretch too much. A good preventative part of your general warm up should be gentle calf stretches.

Do not use overly cushioned insoles in Pumps that are too soft. Some materials feel great to start with but then collapse and become hard. Cheaper cushioning will do this.

I should point out that when I designed the Hullachan Shoe I inserted a special medically approved thin heel cushion and insole. This was not too thick and had the benefit of helping prevent heel strike as well as stopping too much depression following an Achilles tendon problem. Too much cushioning is very bad, as, after contact with the floor, the heel of the foot will sink down lower as the shoe absorbs the shock. That will then further stretch the tendon as the body moves over the foot. Too thick a heel cushion such as a rubber-cushioned insole can have the opposite effect of the preventative measures I incorporated into the Hullachan Shoe. Therefore avoid all trainers when practicing if you get Achilles tendonitis.

Recently I have designed a new kind of Highland Shoe called the Hullachan HSS which delivers a better feel of the floor and supports the arch on a more streamlined way. The padding I use is carefully designed to protect the feet while offering the right amount of support. Full details are on this page here: www.coussins.org . . .

Please feel free to ask me questions and I hope that you found this posting constructive.
Best wishes,
Craig.
Craig Coussins
hullachan.com

9 Replies to Lacing Highland Dance Shoes-A note from Craig Coussins 'Hullachan'

re: Lacing Highland Dance Shoes-A note from Craig Coussins 'Hullachan'
By bek24
On Mon Apr 20, 2009 08:49 AM
Hi thanks for your post, it was quite informative. I just had a question, what about rying around the ankle? I came from ballet and that is always how i tied my ribbons so naturally i felt more comfortable tying my highland shoes like this. does this cause damage too?
re: Lacing Highland Dance Shoes-A note from Craig Coussins 'Hullachan'
By emmyport
On Mon Apr 20, 2009 09:52 AM
Hi Mr. Coussins,

I'm curious as to your thoughts on laces vs. elastic, flat vs. round laces, etc.

Thanks,
Emily
re: Lacing Highland Dance Shoes-A note from Craig Coussins 'Hullachan'
By Hullachan_ShoesPremium member
On Mon Apr 20, 2009 04:54 PM
If you look at the lacing video on my website that will help you follow the safe method I use to tie Hullachans.
re: Lacing Highland Dance Shoes-A note from Craig Coussins 'Hullachan'
By Hullachan_ShoesPremium member
On Mon Apr 20, 2009 05:06 PM
Its a good question but if you look at the laces that I use there is a also a very good reason for these.
Elastic can be pulled so tight that it will act like a Cheese Cutter and actually break the skin if pulled too tight. Dancers that use elastic do so for ease of use but then if the shoe is no longer as tight as they want, they tend to pull the laces even tighter and that is when the trouble starts. The easy example is to get you to put an elastic band on the middle joint of a finger and see what happens. It stops the blood flow. This is what happens when you lace around the arch. Elastic is so uncontrolled in this respect that it becomes dangerous.

Round laces roll over the foot and thee is a limit to what tension you can pull these.

Flat laces tend to cause folds in the laces and dancers will find that these become uncomfortable with wear.

Good fitters will advise you the best lace to use but Hullachan will only supply shoes with our traditional round lace. Its not perfect but its a lot better than anything else. Unless I can develop a lace that acts like a Bungee cord but will not become too thin when stretched,the round lace will have to be the lace for Hullachan.

Best wishes,
Craig
re: Lacing Highland Dance Shoes-A note from Craig Coussins 'Hullachan'
By Katja144member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Thu Apr 23, 2009 07:42 PM
Bek--I used to tie around the ankle too...in part because I had to do SOMETHING with those long laces! I think I've read that that too can cause trouble with the Achilles tendon if it's too tight back there.

These days I buy shorter laces like you can get at any store for regular shoes...30" or 36"...and just lace up my shoe like normal, cross them in front, bring them to the back and cross through the back loop, and that leaves just enough to tie behind the back loop and then tuck in the ends. It's also ten times faster to put my shoes on that way. :)
re: Lacing Highland Dance Shoes-A note from Craig Coussins 'Hullachan'
By Hullachan_ShoesPremium member
On Fri Apr 24, 2009 03:54 AM
I agree.
We are supplying shorter laces anyway now.
However we have a problem inasmuch as it depends on the shoe size and the height of the arch as to how long a lace should be when bought with a pair of shoes. So we try to find the average length.
But you are right in that some folk need a shorter lace and if the lace is too long cut the lace to the size that you are comfortable with and then burn the ends of the lace with a lighter for a second as many laces are made from nylon or dip the ends into clear nail varnish to seal the tips.

Best wishes Craig
Hullachan.com
re: Lacing Highland Dance Shoes-A note from Craig Coussins 'Hullachan'
By jainemac
On Fri Apr 24, 2009 11:19 AM
Thanks for your post..I have just recenty puchased some of the new hullachan shoes for my daughter..but I must say the laces are enormously long!
Are you saying that it is best to tie the shoe at the front just in a knot or bow and not tie at all around the ankle?
Many thanks..thought i would check before i cut the laces!
Jaine
re: Lacing Highland Dance Shoes-A note from Craig Coussins 'Hullachan'
By Hullachan_ShoesPremium member
On Fri Apr 24, 2009 12:09 PM
Hi.
You do not have to lace around the ankle or the arch anymore. Please watch our video on the website.

I will take advice from your posting and double check the lace length
Thank you.
Have great weekend.
Craig
hullachan.com
re: Lacing Highland Dance Shoes-A note from Craig Coussins 'Hullachan'
By jainemac
On Sat Apr 25, 2009 03:04 PM
many thanks for your reply...i cut the laces as suggested and heated the ends and sealed with nail varnish and just tied like a normal shoe...My daughter loves these shoes..and even more so after her first competetion wearing them today ..and she got 2 firsts!
Thanks for the info..and the video on lacing is great.

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