Experts in sports medicine since 1974, serving Greater Boston, Brookline, Newton, Wellesley areas and beyond.

A wise sage from modern American mythology once said

Do or do not; there is no try.

Its a philosophy we all might live by: if you’re going to do something, or live a certain way, do or live it! Don’t just waddle through life trying all the time.

Likewise, don’t go through life waddling around with poorly tied laces all the time either!

All too often we see patients in our office with their shoes practically falling off, barely tied up and definitely not doing the job they are meant to do. evenkeel_blog_yodaSetting your feet up for comfort throughout the day involves more than choosing the right socks and shoes, it also means knowing how to tie those laces. Surprisingly, this is something most of us are doing incorrectly.

“You must unlearn what you have learned.” – Yoda

We hate to break it to you, but granny – not to mention mom, dad and teacher – were wrong when they instructed you on the old “rabbit through the hole” trick. But they almost had it right! The proper way to tie your shoes begins much like you’re used to:

  1. Cross the left lace over the right and tie a simple knot.
  2. Make a loop with the right lace – and here’s where most people go wrong – and then wrap the left lace around it from back to front not forward and back like you were probably taught.
  3. Grasp it with the index and forefinger before pulling it through to complete the bow.

Confused? Check this out. Ian Fieggen, the shoelace guru, also recommends this method. Additionally, there’s a TED Talk on the topic of shoe-tying if you need some more convincing.

The easy way to tell whether you did it correctly is by pulling at both laces from the base of the bow. Try this with your shoe off and in your lap. When you pull apart from the base of the laces, does the bow turns lengthwise, in line with the long axis of the shoe? If so,  try again. When the bow lies horizontally across the shoe, then pat yourself on the back because you did it the right way.

“Size matters not…” but tying your shoes  does.  

As with most issues affecting the feet, the results often build up over time and can cause a chain reaction of problems from the heel up. If your foot is not held securely inside the shoe via a stable knot, the heel can slip out.  and cause the toes to grip your shoe. evenkeel_blog_yodalacesIf you don’t currently wear custom foot orthotics this can be bad because it puts extra strain on the toes and can wear away at the protective padding on the ball of the foot. If you do wear custom foot orthotics and the shoe isn’t tied correctly, the orthotic can’t make proper contact with the foot and won’t work quite right either.

Now its also true that an over tightened shoe can be problematic and even painful for feet. This can sometimes be caused by swelling of the feet which occurs when sitting or standing in the same position for a long period of time. If you tie you shoes fairly tight, and then it feels like they are too tight later, after you have been sitting for a long time, its a good idea to loosen your laces, retie your shoes and walk around for a few minutes.

It’s possible that this heel-slipping, toe-gripping way of walking could go on for years with no problems, until one day you have unexplained foot pain. It’s important to seek out a diagnosis from a podiatrist, who can prescribe a number of treatments such as custom orthotics, as well as advise on the changes you need to make to stave off foot problems from the root. Even minor discomfort is worth having a professional take a look, after all, the solution may be as simple as learning to tie your shoes.

So be mindful of your shoe tying training, as Master Yoda says:

If you end your training now – if you choose the quick and easy path as Vader did – you will become an agent of evil.

Ok, maybe that’s  a bit extreme, but you get the point.


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