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The Safety Tie.

Irish dancers have more bad habits when it comes to safety than any other kind of dancer. Many teachers overlook proper stretching and warm up exercises and fail to train and tone young bodies to prevent future health problems. Next to ballet toe-shoes, Irish dance shoes are the worst sorts of torture devices in the world of dance. The poor design of the shoes is compounded by the ignorant habits perpetuated throughout Irish dancing. The most common short and long term injuries to Irish dancers feet and legs stem from improper lacing and fitting techniques.

The consensus is that girls care more about how they look like then how they feel. It is considered "traditional' for dancers to wrap excessively long laces around their ankles. However, there is no historical basis for this "tradition'. Most dancers we polled never really thought about why they do it despite the pain and injury it causes.

When the shoe manufacturer Hullachan introduced its first generation of shoes with a "safety lace systemĒ dancers were reluctant to wear them based on the fact that they might look different than their peers. I found this ironic considering the lengths to which the same dancers will go to out do one anotherís solo dresses.

Incidentally, you can use the same safety lacing scheme with any brand without paying a premium for a special shoe.


The most common and dangerous lacing practice is to wrap long laces around the ankle. This causes restriction of the muscle tissues, cuts off blood circulation and can cause severe and permanent damage to tendons. I assume dancers do this because they donít know what to do with the extra laces. This practice is wrong and dangerous.

No good teacher should allow it. I know of several instances where teachers have forbade students from altering their laving scheme for sake of 'uniformity.' Any teacher who forbids a student from using a safety lacing scheme is ignorant and unconcerned with student safety. The damage improper lacing can cause may stay with you for life. If your teacher cares more about how you tie your shoes than about your safety then maybe its time to look for a new teacher.

The second most common way to use up that extra lace is to wrap it under the foot. This causes the same problems as the previous method but injuries resulting from this tend to be more sudden and immediately debilitating. Many dancers think this helps the foot look arched but this practice can end your dancing days in a flash. Your time is better spent developing a real arch.

So what to do with all that extra lace? Simply cut it. But first, follow these lacing guidelines.

The Safety Lace.

Lace from the bottom up as usual. Pass the lace through the bottom loop and continue on to the first loop on each side. donít cross them until they pass the first side loops at the bottom of the vamp, then lace up to the top loop crossing the laces alternately just like a sneaker. Once through the top loops cross the laces again and pass them through the side loops. This should form an X between the top loops and the side loops. up to this point everything should be familiar.

Now the safety tie. Continue each lace from the side loop to the back loop and pass each through the back loop. This will make the laces cross each other in the back loop. Once crosses through the back loops continue back around to the side loops and pa the laces back through the other way. Now they hang toward the front of the shoe ready to be tied like a sneaker.

You can skip the last part and leave them hanging from the back. Just wrap them around to the front and tie them off. Either way is fine but if the shoes slide easily off the heel try the opposite version. Depending on foot shape and shoe brand, one of these methods will work.

The whole point is not to wrap the laces around the ankle more then once. Note: you only bring the laces from the back of the shoe, or side loops, and tie them together. Do not wrap then around the ankle again. That defeats the purpose of the safety tie

Cut off the excess lace. For synthetic laces, burn the ends with a cigarette lighter or match to prevent fraying. tie knots in natural fibers. Get an adult to burn laces! If your shoes have no side loops just skip that part and do everything the same as if it had loops. To thread the laces through the loops use a Bobbie pin (safety hair pin) to pass through the loop and thread the lace through it. Then pull it back through with the pin.