How to Tie Your Shoes the Right Way

Published by Englin's Fine Footwear on 8th Jan 2019

So your shoelaces just won't stay tied.Sure, you could resort to a double knot, but that look just isn't as clean as a simple, one-layer bow. It's also not as effective as the proper tying technique. Yes, you heard us right. There is a proper lace-tying technique, and it takes a little more effort than the rhymes you might have learned in Kindergarten would suggest to get it right!

How to Tie Your Shoes (The Right Way!)

Step 1: Pull the laces comfortably tight on your foot. Cross the right lace over the left lace and tie a knot.

Step 2: Take the lace you are now holding in your left hand and create a loop. It's going to look exactly like it did when you learned how to tie your shoes the first time.

Step 3: Take the lace in your right hand and bring it to the left side, crossing underneath the loop to do so.

Step 4: Wrap the lace back over the top of the loop. Tie a bow.

Step 5: Sit back and enjoy your beautifully tied shoes. Or take off running to test the technique. Whatever you prefer, really.

Why Does This Work?

A very good question with a surprisingly complicated answer! It basically all comes down to the type of knot you create. If you follow these steps, you'll end up with a type of knot called a reef knot. If you're not careful in following these steps, you'll create a granny knot instead. Why does it matter what type of knot you create? Physics.

Granny knots and reef knots are extremely similar in appearance.

Left: Granny Knot Right: Reef Knot

Can you see the difference between them? In the granny knot, one loose end of the blue lace goes over the red loop and the other loose end goes under, and the loose ends of the red lace do the same to the blue loop. With a reef knot, the loops interlock more firmly because the loose laces go through the loops the same way (so both the loose red laces go under and both the loose blue laces go over). This makes reef knots much harder to slip than granny knots.

When your feet move, the bow of your shoes is whipped back and forth. The forces exerted on the laces will eventually be enough to untie either knot, but since a granny knot is less stable it will come untied more quickly and more often. Interestingly, scientists are just starting to understand the mechanics of how and why shoelace knots fail. We know, it seems too obvious to even merit study, but the study of your shoelaces coming untied is the first step to understanding why more complex knotted structures come untied. For a better explanation of this shockingly complicated subject, read up on the shoelace experiment done at UC Berkeley.

Whether or not you care about the knot science behind it, this trick is one of the best types of lifehacks: simple to implement and actually useful. Sure, having to stop to tie your shoes is a minor annoyance in the grand scheme of things, but it's a minor annoyance that is easily dealt with. Impress your friends with your new-found shoelace tying superpower!