POJ THEVEENUGUL/ShutterstockYou’ve probably been tying your own shoes since kindergarten, but that doesn’t mean you’ve been doing it right. There’s a scientific reason you should rethink your usual bow.
Most people tie their shoes using the “bunny ears” technique. Do that, though, and you’re basically asking for your laces to come loose. (If your favorite pair is lace-free, find out what your favorite shoes say about you.)
Scientists tested a couple types of knots for a study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. When hooked up to a pendulum simulating someone walking for 15 minutes, the bunny ears knot came loose every time—and faster than a different knot.
In another part of the experiment with real people walking on a treadmill, it only took several minutes for the shoelaces to start becoming undone. And once the knot loosened up, it got totally untied within two strides.
“What was remarkable to us was how fast it happened,” study co-author Oliver O’Reilly of the University of California at Berkeley told USA Today.
It might seem weird that shoelaces become untied when there’s nothing pulling on the ends, but the researchers figured it out. The impact of your foot hitting the ground, the motion of your shoe in the air, and the force of the free ends of your lace swinging around all mess with that knot you were counting on. (Beyond loose laces, don’t miss these 7 ways your sneakers can ruin your workout.)
The problem with the “bunny ears” is that it creates a “granny knot” in your laces, which is known not to be as sturdy as something called a “reef knot.”
Luckily, the researchers found better way to tie your shoes. With a technique that turned into a stronger reef knot, the laces came apart half as many times as the bunny ears did. And don’t worry, it doesn’t require any fancy knot skills.
To make a strong knot, start as you normally would, crossing your right lace over the left, then pulling the left lace through the loop you created underneath. Now make a loop with both laces. Here’s where it gets different. The classic bunny ears would bring one loop “behind the tree,” and pull through the new loop closest to you. Don’t do that! Instead, reverse it and bring it around the front before pulling it through.
Voilà! No more tripping over loose laces. As a bonus, the bow will sit straight for once, so you’ll look better, too. It’s just a matter of reversing that one step.
In other mind-blowing news, learn the weird ways you’ve been playing Monopoly wrong your whole life.