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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: Shoelaces coming untied

in: Orienteering; General

Apr 12, 2017 2:08 PM # 
Sumary article from Scientific American. It contains a link for the original article. If you don't have access but would like a copy, drop me a note.

I was well aware of the difference between the weak and strong overhand knots, the latter being the well known square not. However, I hadn't actually ever paid attention to how that applied to tying my shoes, which makes me feel a little silly. Before tightening down I put in an extra overhand knot using the whole loop and tail and generally don't have any trouble with laces untying. It happens very occasionally but I figure the net aggravation is less than when having to extricate a thorn (or other debris) from my shoe+foot and being forced to wrestle with tape.

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Apr 12, 2017 5:34 PM # 
Instead of the extra overhand knot, there's a better way, but it's easier demonstrated than explained in text. But maybe somebody who knows what I'm talking about will find a link with some pictures. Stays very secure, but easier to untie when youwant to than the "double knot".
Apr 12, 2017 6:56 PM # 
I use the Surgeon's knot although I call it the "Secret Swedish O-Kansas Knot," because Spike taught it to me and I believe some visiting Swedes taught it to him (that's the legend in my head anyway).
Apr 12, 2017 7:01 PM # 
Same knot but I've always thought of it as the daycare knot since someone taught it to at my kids' daycare center.
Apr 12, 2017 7:03 PM # 
J-J showed it to me, and told me it was something like a Swedish O-Kansas Knot, maybe 20 some years ago, and I have used it ever since, with great satisfaction. I was surprised some years later when my friend Arthur Sweeton saw young Zack, maybe around 7 at the time with his shoes untied, and taught him the knot. So there are perhaps other fonts of wisdom at work.
Apr 12, 2017 9:27 PM # 
I use a similar knot from the same site, Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot. It has the advantage of being symmetrical. I don't think it's every come untied on me, although I do have to remember to retie my laces before starting, as they stretch. If I need to retie whilst on the course, it's difficult to tie with an epunch and a thumb compass on my fingers.
Apr 12, 2017 10:50 PM # 
I use the Salomon knot. Never comes undone nor does it get in the way.
Apr 13, 2017 12:37 AM # 
I use the knot that that site calls Surgeon's Knot, although I use the name "surgeon's knot" for a different knot (according to my Boy Scout knot book). I also learned it from an O-Kansas member. So I guess we were talking about the same thing in the first place, rather than the "double knot" that I learned from my mother, which has as its only advantage that uses up a lot of lace if your laces are too long.

Charlie, are you sure I said the knot was from Sweden? Maybe I said it was from Sweeton. :-)
Apr 13, 2017 12:41 AM # 
Well, you could have, except I don't think either one of us had met that fine gentleman at the time you taught me that knot.
Apr 13, 2017 3:27 PM # 
This is useful. Wish I'd picked up on it 20 years ago. Tape is a bit of hassle both before and after the race.
Apr 13, 2017 5:31 PM # 
What surprises me is the number of people who insist the knot doesn't work and that tape is the only thing that does.
Apr 13, 2017 6:31 PM # 
They probably aren't tying it correctly (see first post).
Apr 14, 2017 4:02 AM # 
They "know" that such a knot is impossible. They don't waste time learning it. Therefore the knot does not work (for them).
Apr 14, 2017 7:06 AM # 
+1 for Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot
Apr 14, 2017 7:44 PM # 
Until I went to Texas this year, that knot had only come untied on my O shoes 2-3 times over the many years I'd used it (I learned it from one of my kids when he was in elementary school). Texas's vegetation managed to untie them more than once!
Apr 14, 2017 10:44 PM # 
I tried Ian's secure shoelace knot for today's mapping, and quite like it. It stayed completely as it started, and is fairly easy to remember. It seemed hard to adjust the loops for length after tying the knot, but then again the point is to resist vegetation tugging on the loops or knot, so that's to be expected.
Apr 16, 2017 11:22 AM # 
+1 for Ian's Secure Knot from me too. The only time I have to stop for a shoe lace is when a training partner's comes undone. Main side effect is smugness.
Apr 16, 2017 7:55 PM # 
For those who are knot-incompetent and can't seem to remember a knot even 24 hours after practicing it over and over, a simpler solution than tape is to tuck the laces into the shoe (by the ankle, path of least resistance). Works pretty well, very fast, and idiot/Army-proof.
Apr 16, 2017 8:57 PM # 
Science Friday had a segment on shoe tying this week, featuring one of the authors of the article referenced in the Scientific American study.
Apr 17, 2017 12:04 AM # 
The Secret-Swedish Knot, which is also being referred to here as the "Surgeon's Knot" (though I agree with JJ that there is at least one other knot that goes by the latter name) is a pretty sure bet and works even better when you subsequently pull the laces to make the loops super small and tuck the ends under the laces. I find the comment about having to tighten the laces interesting because the thing I like the most about this knot is that it DOESN'T need to be tight to work. That is a wonderful thing in ultras where your feet will swell during the race, so it's nice to start with the shoe a bit loose.

FWIW, I've also seen it listed in multiple places as a "Swiss Knot" and that's what I call it.
Apr 22, 2017 1:18 PM # 
What a useful thread! I used to do an extra overhand knot (similar to Iamstillhungry, but with loops only); but having read this, I am now testing both Secret Swedish (right) and Ian's (left). I think I might do one of them the wrong way around, but so far, none has come loose.
Apr 26, 2017 11:36 AM # 
Tim S:
Triathlon laces. No knots required.
Apr 27, 2017 5:27 AM # 
4 races through WMOC using Ian's Secure Knot and it is holing together better than any of my other techniques. Throw away the tape.
Apr 27, 2017 7:20 AM # 
You might need the tape for some other purpose. I'd keep it.
Apr 27, 2017 2:26 PM # 
Apr 29, 2017 6:09 AM # 
WMOC vegetation was pretty easy on laces, but I used the surgeons knot and had no problems. BUT, I have had it fail in some vegetation. tape has never failed me.
Apr 29, 2017 6:53 AM # 
I tried Ian's secure knot earlier this week. Positives: simple enough that even I can do it. Negatives: one came undone during a training. I'll have to stick with tape for races.
Apr 29, 2017 1:16 PM # 
Make sure you're tying it correctly, and be sure to pull it very tight. When I was doing tons of orienteering, it would fail on me maybe once a year, possibly because of carelessness on my part, which was far outbalanced by the number of times when I needed to get something out of my shoe during a race, which is nearly impossible with tape.
Apr 29, 2017 1:17 PM # 
I have used surgeons knot (it is identical to Ian's secure knot) since 1995 for trainings. For races I tape it with the same tape I use for taping emit backup paper. Sometimes comes undone during trainings. No fails with tape so far, laces or paper.
May 1, 2017 9:26 AM # 
I haven't given up on Ian's secure knot -- trying to use it on my regular shoes so I don't forget it. I'll make sure to do it tighter. It would be useful for training, for sure.

But for racing... what are people getting in their shoes that they need to take them off? I can't remember the last time I had to take a shoe off while orienteering, though I'm sure it has happened. And it takes about 3 seconds to remove tape, so about 2.5 seconds longer than untying shoelaces. Not sure it's worth ditching tape for races.
May 1, 2017 1:18 PM # 
I seem to get sticks and rocks in occasionally.
May 1, 2017 3:41 PM # 
You must have a better taping method that what I've seen others do (and what I used to do). Taking that off would take a minute even without an elevated heart rate.

I don't need to take stuff out of my shoes often, but when I need to, I really need to.
May 1, 2017 3:55 PM # 
Triathlon laces, such as those that came pre-installed on my Salomons, with that little slidey thing to tighten them up quickly, are great - as long as they stay tucked up in the little pouch on the tongue. However, if they come sneaking out and start flapping around - well, it can get ugly.
Imagine blazing along down a rocky hill side, when the toe of your right shoe get caught in the 8" continuous loop of the lace on your left shoe as your right shoe is swinging forward to stop you from plummeting face first down the hill.
The right shoe immediately stops any forward motion, snagged in that loop. Your body, on the other hand, what with momentum and all that, continues forward and down at an alarming rate.
The remainder of this short clip is left for the reader to envision on their own...
May 1, 2017 5:58 PM # 
Pink Socks:
when the toe of your right shoe get caught in the 8" continuous loop of the lace on your left shoe as your right shoe is swinging forward to stop you from plummeting face first down the hill.

Yup. Been there. After that incident, I cut that loop. Laces still work, you just need two hands to cinch 'em up.
May 1, 2017 7:28 PM # 
a better taping method

Maybe we need another endless thread about that. :-)

My technique:
1. use electrical tape
2. fold a bit at the end onto itself (sticky to sticky) to create a tab for easy removal
3. enjoy
May 1, 2017 10:13 PM # 
I have no idea what knot to use on an endless thread.
May 2, 2017 12:57 AM # 
when the toe of your right shoe get caught in the 8" continuous loop of the lace on your left shoe

Me too although I don't recall if it was right lace caught on left shoe or left lace on right shoe. Either way there was a downhill and a fence involved. I tend to only have problems in this instance if there is a hole in the tab that's supposed to be holding the lace in. I've tried taping up the holes but the tape comes off.
Jan 3, 2020 11:14 PM # 
Latest update on the stability of knots. Have to do a bit more looking to see if they have tested various shoe tying knots.

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