Archive for the ‘Exercise’ Category

How to tie a shoelace

September 22, 2009


Now this might not seem to many to be a subject related to Science. However it is inconceivable to me that we are still persisting with something so obviously flawed as the common shoelace knot.

Only yesterday on my morning jog  I was barely metres from the front gates of the Institute before the lace in my left training shoe had come undone.

This may surprise many of you I am sure – the very idea of my going for a ‘jog’, however I regret to say that the summer break has seen me over indulge in a few pleasures that are starting to make show round my mid-riff. Now I can’t stand the thought of working out in a gym (I have a childhood fear of female bodybuilders inherited in part from my mother) and I dislike taking part in competitive sport – if I am not going to win. I am the best there is in the scientific field should I expect any less in another?

So it is I found the only exercise left open to me (and the cheapest) was the humble jog. All I needed was an open space and I was good to go. Admittedly after my first jog I realised that my usual attire of lab coat, shirt and tie weren’t appropriate either and after rectifying the problem with a visit to a local sports shop, I was good to go.

However it was not long before I was held up once more by faulty design work in the lace department. Why might this be? Certainly it was not as though the laces hadn’t been competently tied. Indeed my housekeeper has being tying my laces for years with little usual problem. I can’t begin to tell you the inconvenience in having to stop every few minutes on a jog to wait for my housekeeper to find me and do my laces back up again.

But fear no longer reader, of errant laces coming undone on you anymore. It was merely a matter of applying the problem to science, of which nothing cannot be solved, and I have devised a foolproof new knot that will revolutionise the way people wear shoes. Except slip ons and sandals.


  1. Take the left hand lace (right hand if you are facing me) and hold it up. We shall call this Lace A.
  2. Now take the right hand lace and hold in a similar fashion. This is Lace B.
  3. Bring Lace A and Lace B together crossing one over the other (it doesn’t matter which, whichever you are the more comfortable with).
  4. Twist Lace A round Lace B, do this five times, creating a tight cord. It is important this is done in a clockwise manner (unless again you are facing me and should then be anti-clockwise).
  5. Take Lace B, and loop it under Lace A (back to note 3 if you did not cross Lace A over the TOP of Lace B you will have to completely unlace the shoe and start again). This should still leave you with approximately 4 metre length of Lace B.
  6. Now Lace A should be looped back on itself and held between the thumb of the right hand and the fore finger of the left.
  7. With your other hand take Lace B and tie three equally spaced knots in the lace at no more than 2cm intervals. (If you wish you may use a ruler).
  8. While still holding Lace A, pull as tight as you can, preferably till your foot starts to tingle, and quickly tie off round the ankle.
  9. With the remainder of Lace B, take a pair of scissors and cut off as close to the shoe as possible, discard the remainder knots and all.
  10. Repeat on the other shoe, in mirror. 

Voila! The perfect shoelace knot. I appreciate the above may seem overly complicated to some – so I have also devised a simple mathematical formula to explain the process.

A≈ 8 √∞ – B / 42 + 3

See you on the tracks!