Researchers untangle the mystery of why shoelaces untie

Researchers untangle the mystery of why shoelaces come untied

A new study has attempted to resolve the mysterious phenomenon by which neatly and securely tied shoelaces untie, particularly when the wearer walk fast or run.

Researcher Oliver O'Reilly said his shoelaces had been coming untied daily for more than four decades but he never thought much about it. But, around a decade back, when his daughter Anna was learning how to tie her shoes, he decided to find out why shoelaces get untied on their own.

Oliver O’Reilly, a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley, and his team did different sorts of stuff, including running on treadmills, and swinging their legs back and forth while sitting on a table.

They found that the impact of the shoe on the ground first loosens the knot, which leads to the whipping of the free ends of the laces. As the foot hits the ground, leading to swinging of the laces and the knot loses integrity.

Co-author Christine Gregg said, “We ran on treadmills. We swung our legs back and forth while sitting on tables … We were wandering the halls of the mechanical engineering building just staring at our shoes, watching them come untied.”

The new study titled “The roles of impact and inertia in the failure of a shoelace knot” was published and detailed their study in the most recent edition of the Proceedings of the Royal Society A.