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Hard Science

Here’s How You Should Actually Tie Your Shoes

Take a look down. Chances are, you’re looking at a lopsided tangle of bad technique.
(Photo Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images)

Take a look down. Notice anything wrong? Well, unless you’re some beach-bound denizen wearing flip-flops, you’re more than likely wearing shoes with laces. And it appears that the vast majority of the human race has been tying their shoes wrong the whole time

Yes, you’ve (probably) been tying your shoes wrong your whole life

The “bunny ears” method — the popular knot-tying technique that involves a pretty gripping story about a bunny running around a tree and back into its hole — is one of the worst knots to tie if you’re worried about longevity. The bunny ears knot (also known as the Granny Knot) is dubious thanks to its weak central knot, which comes undone due to repeated ground impact from the foot combined with the motion it takes to put one foot in front of the other. This motion often leads to one of the laces rubbing off against the other until one of them comes loose, resulting in what the researchers have called ‘catastrophic knot failure’ (and is also a sweet band name). 

What you should be doing is the (drum roll please) Square Knot (hold for applause), or what is sometimes referred to as the Reef Knot. It is a knot of such magnificence that it has been used by sailors for centuries and is, according to a knot theorist Professor Colin C. Adams, the “way to go.” 

So now, dear readers, you know that all those times you’ve looked down at your foot and thought, “Dammit now I have to bend over in front of strangers in public,” have actually been your knot’s fault and (k)not your own.


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