How to tie your shoelaces so they won't come undone, according to engineers

It's all about creating a strong knot rather than a weak one

If you find your shoelaces come undone every time you wear them, you’re not alone.

The majority of people are taught to tie their laces incorrectly which means they’re more likely to come undone, mechanical engineers have discovered.

The mistake we’re making is tying the first knot with the left lace over the right and doing the same for the bow - left lace over right.

Or tying the first knot right lace over left and doing the bow in the same way.

To make sure your laces stay done up, you need to do the bow in the opposite way to how you’ve tied the knot.

So if you cross the left lace over the right to tie the knot, make the bow by crossing the right lace over the left. Or vice versa.

By crossing the laces the same way both times, you create a weak knot (also known as a granny or false knot). But if you do them opposite ways, you’ll make a strong knot (or reef knot).

A strong knot will sit horizontally across the foot instead of being diagonally angled towards the ankle.

According to the research by the University of Berkeley in California, strong knots are far less likely to come undone than weak ones.

“We are trying to understand knots from a mechanics perspective, such as why you can take two strands and connect them in a certain way that can be very strong, but another way of connecting them is very weak,” explained study co-author Oliver O’Reilly, a professor of mechanical engineering at Berkeley.

Despite their findings, the researchers don’t know why strong knots are less likely to unravel.

“We were able to show that the weak knot will always fail and the strong knot will fail at a certain timescale, but we still do not understand why there’s a fundamental mechanical difference between those two knots.”

The study did find, however, that it takes a combination of a foot hitting the ground and a leg swinging to make a shoelace come undone - simply swinging your leg whilst sitting isn’t enough.

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