What is Lace Bite?
Lace bite is inflammation of the tibialis anterior tendon, and it’s usually caused by friction. This friction occurs when the foot is in dorsiflexion because there is very little subcutaneous fat and muscle to protect the tendons. Dorsiflexion causes the flexor tendons to press against the top of the foot, making them more susceptible to lace bite. If you’re wearing stiff skates, or stiff tongues, very common with new skates, then your tendons will suffer through extra pressure.
If you just got off the ice after a practice or game and your anterior medial part of your foot (the top of your foot) is in a lot of pain, then there are a few things you can do to ease the pain. NOT medical advice: ask a Dr. before taking any medication.
An NSAID like ibuprofen can help ease some pain and swelling.
Ice your foot on the sore spot for 15 minutes on, 45 minutes off, repeating until you feel relief. Remember to put a soft cloth between the ice and your skin to avoid damage to your skin.
Heat. The literature isn’t conclusive on the effectiveness of heat for acute injuries and inflammation but this may be something to consider. One of the concerns with heat is that it may increase inflammation.
While the common recommendation is to rest and avoid the ice until you feel better, athletes know this is an absurd request. So below we are going to offer some advice on how to deal with this pain.
Wear clean dry socks, STOP wearing wet, crusty socks. Come on.
If your tongues on your skates are stiff, work them in a bit.
A product, formerly known as Gel Socks, has a thin layer of gel on the inside and some cushioning on the outside. This helps ease pressure and friction on your ankle when you wear them in your skates. A picture is available below, and a link to the site is available as well. (NOT an advertisement, we make no commission, just sharing a product we support).
Another alternative, and cheaper, is to use sponges underneath your socks above the points of pain. Be careful using too thick of a sponge because they can defeat the purpose by applying even more pressure on your foot.
Donut sponges. These are little sponges that have holes in the middle of them. If the pain is isolated to a small area these may be beneficial.
In Closing, Lace Bite can be very painful but taking time off isn’t an option for this level of injury. Try some of these recomendations and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out.
Levitsky et al. Lace Bite: A review of tibialis anterior tendinopathy in ice hockey players. Translation Sports Medicine 2020. 3:4;296-299.
Mike Walden. Tibialis Anterior Tendonitis. Sports Injury Clinic.