A mix of the whipping activity of a shoelace when you step forward and the impact of her foot... <+> on the soil will job-related to loosen her shoelaces as you walk or run.

You are watching: How to keep leather shoelaces tied

Oliver M. O"Reilly, UC Berkeley

In order come tie her shoes, there"s a straightforward knot that almost all of us learn exactly how to make once we"re tiny children: a "criss-cross and tuck" part, adhered to by a "loop-and-pull" part. That basic knot has three strong advantages to it over many other types:


It properly takes increase the remainder of the size of the shoelaces, therefore they don"t drag on the ground. It can be easily undone top top purpose, just by pulling on the loose ends deliberately. And also it forms a fairly strong knot, i can not qualify to come undone throughout the food of a day of center walking.
The result of a traditional shoe-tying method, where two opposing laces come together to develop an... <+> easily-undone knot with two loops on one of two people side.

AnonMoos that Wikimedia Commons

Of course, many of us have actually experiences where it takes only a couple of minutes of middle walking come undo our efforts of tie our shoes. This is true, and also scientists have recently do a the majority of progress towards understanding why.

The reasons? One needs to do through the physics that goes right into the forces that wade provides, but the various other is a information you"ve probably never noticed before.


A effectively tied shoes will result in a reef knot, wherein the laces sit squarely atop her shoes.

publicly domain / max pixel

When girlfriend tie her shoelaces into a bow, what type of knot do you end up with? carry out you wind increase a knot the looks favor squared off, wherein the loops sit evenly and also horizontally across the shoe? (As shown above.) Or perform you wind up v a knot where your shoelaces sit askew, with one loop higher and one loop lower than the original "criss-cross and also tuck" component? (As shown below.)


one improperly tied display will an outcome in an askew knot, recognized as a granny knot, which is less secure... <+> and weaker than a reef knot.

Hans that Pixabay

Although both knots come from the same knot-tying method, among them is far stronger than the other. The squared-off knot, known as a reef knot, occurs when each the the "loose ends" fromthe bow liesopposite come the direction the the incoming lace (prior come the "criss-cross and also tuck" component) once the shoes is tied. The askew knot, well-known as a granny knot, is the opposite: the occurs when the "loose ends" line up with the direction that the incoming lace. Both knots have actually the exact same actions that get in them, but the granny node (below, left) is fairly weak, if the reef knot (below, right) is relatively much stronger.


The difference in between a weak (granny) knot and a strong (reef) knot has every little thing to perform with which... <+> next the loops and loosened ends lie on, loved one to one another.

O. O"Reilly, C. Daily-Diamond and also C. Gregg/UC Berkeley

The physics explanation for why the reef knot is stronger than the granny node is tho under investigation, but scientists have actually a stormy idea regarding what"s going on. Once you go or run, there are two components of the movement that job-related to loosen your shoelaces:

the "whipping" activity of the laces together you move your foot front exerts pulling pressures on the loops, and the "impact" pressures of her foot top top the ground reason the whole shoelace, including the knot, to endure vibrational forces.

With solid enough forces, or even with weak pressures that space exerted enough times, either knot will certainly come undone.


But the granny knot will certainly come undone much much more quickly and easily 보다 the reef knot. It"s theorized that, in particular, the "whipping" motion is the granny knot"s significant undoing, together anyone v long, floppy, askew shoelaces might notice. As soon as you move your foot forward, those loops lag behind the shoe, and when you avoid your foot"s front motion, those loops proceed forward, both of i beg your pardon exert forces on the knot. In a properly-tied reef knot, there"s a crimp in the knot the serves to keep the loosened ends that the shoelaces from sliding, however the granny knot has no together crimp.


A crimp in the reef knot, that doesn"t show up in the granny knot, might make every the distinction in why... <+> the last comes undone therefore easily.

Fabmania the Wikimedia Commons

As a result, those of you who tie her shoes in a reef knot will certainly probably find yourselves frequently making it to the end of a work without having actually to re-tie her shoes, while those who tie the granny node -- an especially if you"re active -- will likely have to retie that multiple times a day. Yet there"s something an easy you can do come re-train yourself: examine exactly how you tied your shoes in the first place! comes up with either a reef node or a granny knot isn"t merely a matter of coincidence, however rather a matter of technique. And if you have actually the wrong technique (as, full disclosure, ns did till my beforehand 30s), you can re-train yourself.


one infographic top top the three steps in shoe-tying, explaining which type of knot you"ll wind increase with.

E. Siegel

Tying a shoelace node has, mechanically, three procedures where you have two different alternatives for just how you tie them:

A left-over-right or right-over-left "criss-cross and also tuck" component, make a loop through either your left lace or your best lace, and then pack the lace either "over" or "under" the loop prior to pulling the loops through.

As you have the right to see, above, there room eight different feasible outcomes. By switching just one (and just one) step -- and I introduce the very first one if you"re trying come retrain yourself in different ways -- you deserve to go indigenous a granny node to a reef knot.

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The oldest recognized leather shoe, which was tied with shoelaces, more than 5500 year ago.

Pinhasi R, Gasparian B, Areshian G, Zardaryan D, blacksmith A, et al.

And this have to be usual knowledge, considering shoes and shoelaces are more than 5,500 year old! It"s incredible that only today, in 2017, are researchers figuring out just how shoelaces come untied indigenous our mechanical motions, and also that there space still open questions around it. Yet the valuable side is clear: if the laces of your shoe room askew, you"ve been tie them wrong all along! currently that you know just how to resolve it, it"ll cost you an extra ten seconds to tie lock for about 6-8 weeks, and also that"s exactly how long that will take to retrain your brain. The defense of having actually a well-tied shoe is fine worth it!


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I am a Ph.D. Astrophysicist, author, and science communicator, who professes physics and astronomy at miscellaneous colleges. I have won many awards for science writing

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I to be a Ph.D. Astrophysicist, author, and also science communicator, who professes physics and also astronomy at miscellaneous colleges. I have won countless awards for science writing because 2008 because that my blog, Starts through A Bang, including the compensation for ideal science blog through the academy of Physics. My two books, Treknology: The science of Star Trek indigenous Tricorders come Warp Drive, past the Galaxy: exactly how humanity looked beyond our Milky method and found the whole Universe, are accessible for acquisition at Amazon. Monitor me on Twitter