Science Says You’ve Been Tying Your Shoelaces Wrong Your Whole Life
Don’t worry, we’re here to get you in the loop.
Here’s another thing your parents and teachers misled you about: tying your shoes.
It’s known by many names — bunny ears; loop, swoop, and pull; and “the Granny knot” — but the truth is that the way most people learned to tie their shoes is inefficient and scientifically inferior. Yes, scientists are studying this stuff, and what they’ve found is that the traditional method for tying shoes comes undone due to friction and movement. It can happen suddenly — even if your laces have been secure for hours.
In other words, the moment you start running, the clock is ticking on your safety.
This phenomenon was put to the test in a study at the University of California at Berkeley. Oliver O’Reilly, a professor of mechanical engineering, wanted to take a closer look at the actions we take when we run, so he put two assistants on treadmills and also employed a mechanical leg that would stomp on the ground, according to The Guardian.
O’Reilly and his team found that a runner’s foot strikes the ground at seven times the force of gravity, and each time the shoe hits the ground, the more the bows of your laces get jostled loose. In between, each time the leg swings forward, the extra lace gets pulled back and forth, loosening the knot even more. With just a few strides and stomps, the lace comes undone.
“It’s unpredictable but when it happens, it’s in two or three strides,” O’Reilly says.
If physics is not your bag, here’s a video that will help you visualize the phenomenon:
Here’s the good news: There’s a solution, and no, it’s not reverting to Velcro. (Though there’s no shame in that!) If you want to keep wearing your favorite running shoes or Air Jordans, you’ll be well served by learning to tie a square-knot bow.
Here’s how to do it: Pull the right lace over left lace, then pull it under and through. Then pull the left lace over the right lace, then under and through. For the bow, make some loops and pull the one in your right hand behind the one in your left hand.
It’s just a small tweak from the standard Granny bow, but it takes a little bit of practice to get right, since you’re unlearning what has basically become instinct at this point. Here’s a video that’ll help you better picture how to do it:
Good luck with the unlearning process!