Scientists at UC Berkley have proven that there is a right and wrong way to tie your shoes, and you've very likely been tying your shoes the wrong way since you were old enough to do it. On top of that, there is a reason why kids shoes stay knotted longer when they are tied by a parent or guardian.
The process of researching something so seemingly mundane was an entertaining read, but science can assist us in all things including tying your shoes. Researchers told subjects "tie your shoes and run on this treadmill until the shoe becomes unknotted".
Well some people got the treadmill, other people were told to stomp up and down or swing their legs back and forth through the air. They found that most shoes came untied due to a combination of impact and forward motion, but there was one kind of knot that kept peoples shoes tied.
The results of the best way to tie your shoes are contained in a scientific paper aptly titled "The role of impact and inertia in the failure of a shoelace knot." Quite a mouthful to say the least. Regardless of their long-winded nature, the results of tying your shoelace science cannot be ignored.
I'm serious, this is some mind-blowing stuff that I've only just discovered myself, but after a week of testing I can confirm throw in my completely useless anecdotal evidence with that of these researchers. When tying your shoes you probably use one of four knots, so let us start with going over those first.
The name is adorable and helps kids to grasp the concept of how to tie their shoes, but it isn't the ideal method. Tying shoes with bunny ears is extremely simple. Make a loop with each side of the shoestring, and wrap one loop around the other. Slide the wrapped loop through the hole created from wrapping the loop around and voila.
Bunny ears sit loosely on top of the shoe and will probably come untied in just a couple of hours. This is the method that I started using to tie my shoes and it can definitely be helpful in getting kids at least started with tying shoes, but eventually they will probably graduate to something a bit more secure.
OK, I'll admit right now that I've never mastered this knot and can't attest to how functional it actually is. They don't call it magic fingers for no reason. For real, construction of this knot will probably require much more time than I'm willing to invest learning to tie my shoes at this age.
Regardless, I will attempt to describe it briefly. Start as you would with the bunny ears, except instead of simply wrapping one lace around the other you cross them over each other. Once you've formed an X with the two loops, pull them through and you have magically tied your shoes. Maybe.
The Circle Method
Simple but convoluted, I don't know of anyone who does this but there must be someone or I wouldn't be covering it. Cross your laces, the same as you start any knot and then cross them over again. Don't tighten the second crossing or you'll get a forever kind of knot.
Instead hold the circle you've made open and thread each shoelace into the middle of the circle. Now you've got two loops on the side and the circle that will become the knot in the middle. All that's left is to tighten it. Another way to tie my shoes that took way too long to learn and performed less than admirably.
Swoop, Loop, And Pull
Now we're cooking with gas! This is the method that almost everyone I've encountered uses. No fuss, no muss, and it is only a slight variation on this method that determined whether a shoe is tied correctly or not. To start, cross your laces and take one string into your hand. This will be your loop.
Take your other shoe string and swoop it around the loop. Pull it tight and you're done. Bingo, bango! "OK, but Silly Feet... Where is the part that determined whether you've tied your shoes correctly or not??" Fear not good reader, I promised and I shall deliver.
Stay Knotted Friends
When you are swooping the loop in the above method of tying your shoes, which way do you generally swoop? The vast majority of us learned to swoop outward toward the toes of the shoe, probably because it is just easier rather than some nefarious plot to curse the world with constantly untied shoelaces.
In truth, the only way to tie your shoes and have them stay knotted is to swoop through and toward your body. This change is small but absolutely meaningful in keeping your shoes ties for extended periods of time. The science backs me up on this. Check out the link from the very beginning of the article!
The reason that this knot is so significantly different from the usual method is the resting position. If you swoop toward the toes of the shoe and then tighten the laces you'll notice the knot sits vertically against the shoe. When swooping toward yourself the knot will sit horizontally as was always intended!
After trying this method of tying my shoes I attempted to see how long they would stay tied. Well friends, I tied my shoes on Friday and they didn't come undone until my toddler got a hold of them on Monday. They were loose enough to slip on and off so the actual tying my shoes was a bit of a formality, but still!! That's a whole weekend spent without tying a shoelace! Well, at least not one of mine... We're still working on teaching the kids.
Before you go try it out for yourself, don't forget to help your feet be as sweet as that brand new knot! Try out Silly Feet's shoe deodorizer foot spray and when people get down to inspect that knot they won't be knocked off their feet.