It’s quite common that people in some shoes experience a certain discomfort over the foot’s instep, under the tongue. It can be hard to understand what it’s all about, but it’s often due to a relatively thin tongue, which makes the lacing push through and becomes “sharp” for the foot. Here’s how to correct the problem.


Many will certainly recognise themselves in this. After a while of using a pair of shoes, you begin to experience a slight discomfort under the tongues of the shoes, which after some more time becomes even sharper, in some cases you experience it as really painful. When you loose the laces it will be better, but then the shoes will not sit as tight as they should.
The reason why this happens is then often since the tongue is thinner than normal, either that the lining is a bit thin, but more often that the shoes are made with a thin upper leather. There’s really nothing wrong here, and not everyone gets the above problems with these shoes, but it’s not uncommon. You can also experience this on shoes with a regular thickness of the tongue, for various reasons. Especially those with a bony foot can experience it.

If you feel this pressure, a bit sharp, at the tongue due to the lacing pushes through the lining, there are a couple of different ways to get rid of it. One can try to change the way the shoes are laced, change which part of the underlying laces that is against the tongue, for example, or change the lacing technique so that it does not continue to cut into the same place on the tongue. Usually, this only helps temporarily, however, singe soon there will be the same marks in the new place, then you can try a lacing where all the underlying parts only run on the edge. Rarely as convenient, and you may need to change to shorter laces, but the pressure from the lacing can decrease this way.

A lacing method that can prevent the lacing from pushing through the plow. Photo: Ian’s shoelaces

If nothing above helps, then the solution is to attach padding to the tongue. If it’s an oxford where the laces already are relatively open, the V shape is quite big, you have to go to a shoemaker who can put in a thin lining at the tongue’s inside. If you have the space to make the gap bigger, a padded self-adhesive tongue can work well (at Skolyx we have one in leather from Pedag). When the tongue is strengthened and becomes thicker, the lacing can not penetrate and the discomfort or pain hopefully disappears.

My Italigente for Shoegazing shoes has a thin upper leather, which makes me feel discomfort from the laces. After attaching a tongue pad in leather with foam center it has disappeared.