Friday, June 15, 2007

Tying Shoelaces So They Stay Tied

The bow knot we use to tie our shoes has some good things going for it. It's easy enough to learn, it's as quick as anything else to tie, and as importantly, it's very quick to untie. The trouble is, it comes undone too easily. I use a slight variation on the bow knot, which looks like a nicely tied bow knot but never comes untied until you untie it.

Athletes, children, even business people find it important to keep their shoes tied. Whenever I see some collegiate or professional athlete calling time out so that millions of people can watch him tie his shoes, I think "There's a guy who doesn't know how to tie this shoes!" And there are few things sillier than a man in a $1000 suit walking around with laces dangling from one $200 shoe.

The usual solution, retying the loop ends, looks ugly, doesn't stay as well as it should, and worst of all makes the knot difficult to untie.

Parents and coaches everywhere need to teach their kids the following simple little method. Once it becomes a habit, it's one less worry in life, and one less thing to nag about.

The problem is the ordinary bow knot we traditionally use to tie shoes. I use a slight variation on the bow knot, which looks the same (but neater), and never comes untied. I've used this knot with leather boots, dress shoes, and shoes used in running hundreds of miles.
  1. Cross the strings over to make the usual base, cinching it as tight as desired.
  2. Make a loop with one string.
  3. Wrap the other string around that one TWICE, instead of just once.
  4. Push the remainder of the wrapping string through two wrappings.
  5. Tighten fully.

This works with any shoe lace, whether cotton, synthetic, or leather.

As I typed all of this in, I did a web search to find a picture of shoelaces. It turns out that a guy has a whole site just about shoelaces. The Green Tennis Shoes Principle striketh. His site has pictures of this method, called the Better Bow Knot.

Why does this work?

As the two loops are pulled apart during the final tightening, notice that the two center wrappings cross over one another. That forms a little sub-knot, so that in order for one wrap to slip, the other has to slip first. As a result, neither one does.

Untying is the same as with a standard bow knot. Make sure the ends aren't pulled through the loops, and pull on the loose ends.

I suspect, without any data whatsoever, that this method may even be easier to learn for first-timers. The only hard part about tying a bow knot is in the wrap-and-tuck step. Wrapping twice should make it more clear to young learner how it should be done.

Or maybe knot.


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Anonymous said...

Actually, I think it's a great explanation. My 8 yr old son has psoriasis on his hands and often cannot tie his shoe laces himself if they come undone at school, which is why I was searching for a better knot. This makes complete sense.


Anonymous said...

@Anonymous_2012_05_01... Gosh. Kinda harsh ey? I use this knot and I watch folks tie their shoes. Of course it happens fast and don't get up close, but it seems that there are many ways folks go about creating the upper knot. Maybe his method doesn't sync with yours so well.

Me Again said...

Also!!! Before proceeding to the Better Bow, make sure you using a Proper Bow!!! Probably half the world does it wrong. And easy way to tell is (1) tie your shoe and look at the bows, do they lay parallel or do they twist perpendicular to the initial cross? (2) Stick fingers into the bows, and gently pull the lace back through, do you have a proper square/reef know, or a granny knot. If that ain't right you want to change either the direction of the base cross-over or else the upper loop and pull-through