Why does only my right shoelace come untied?

On the continuum of important questions, this one probably ranks less than zero, but I’m still curious what could cause it. Ready for it?

Why does only my right sneaker come untied? If I single knot my sneakers, I’ll have to re-tie the right one 5 to 10 times a day, while the left one stays tied all day.

This has happened on more than one pair of shoes.
No one has ever told me that I list, or walk imbalanced.
On visual inspection, the shape of my right and left foot seem pretty similar.
I have been told that I “pronate” slightly when I walk.

What sorts of things could be the cause of this? Why does only my right shoe come untied?


You undoubtedly tie both the same way, wrt to which lace you place over the other to start the knot, etc. Try tying the right one as a mirror image of the way you tie the left one, and I’ll bet it stays tied. The knot isn’t symettric - if you tie both the same way, the lace that’s “on top” is on the outside of the shoe on one side, and the inside of the shoe on the other.

I have a pair of shoes this happens on, too. I’ve always wanted to experiment but it never occurs to do so when I have time.

  • Is it the shoe, the foot or the lace? Swap laces between left & right shoe.
  • Have somebody else tie your shoes for you.

The second could make for an interesting ice breaker.

Most people tie the second (bow) part of a shoelace knot in a consistent way (i.e., always right over left OR always left over right) that feels natural to them. People tend to be less consistent about how they tie the first part of the knot.

Since you’ve had the problem on more than one pair of shoes, the most likely explanation is that it’s related to the one thing that hasn’t changed - you. I would guess that you tie the first part of the knot on the left shoe so as to make a square knot, and the first part on the right shoe the other way round so as to make a granny knot.

No question, Gary T’s explanation is the correct one. It’s the knot, not the foot or the shoe. Some way or another, you’re tying the two knots differently. Tie and retie your left shoe a few times, noticing exactly what you’re crossing over what and when. Now retie your right shoe using those exact same steps. Problem solved.

No, I tie both the first part and the bow identically on both shoes.

On the suggestion of yabob, I’m trying an experiment: I’ve consciously reversed the “right over left-ness” of the knot on my right shoe. I will wear it that way today and see how often (or if) I have to re-tie the shoe.


No, I don’t think it is. Most people tie each lace the same way, but often their walk has a lateral component to foot motion, in which the movement of each foot is opposite in direction to the other. This can cause the laces to pull tighter on one foot but loosen up on the other. I’ll bet the OP has a slight outward or inward snap of the foot at the end of each step.

I tried to post this earlier, but it didn’t take.

Short verison: GaryT probably has it right. Try this site. It may explain many things. He also has different methods of tying and lacing shoes and boots.

I’d never heard of this, but given the info we now have, it seems the most plausible explanation. I imagine it’s awkward for most people to tie the left and right knots as mirror images, but if it solves the problem, it’s the thing to do. I’ll be interested to hear the results of trying this.

I have never had this problem nor do I have it now. I just tie my laces tight and they do not become untied. Go figure!

I’ve always had this problem, and I’m going with this solution for now (Occam’s razor). Man, it’s *hard *to reverse something you’ve done your whole life! The only way I can do it is to loosely tie the left lace before putting on the shoe, with the shoe pointing toward me, then slipping it on my foot and tightening the lace.

That won’t do it. Rotating the shoe 180 degrees does not change the orientation of the knot.

The old Boy Scout reminder for tying a square (=reef) knot, as opposed to a granny knot, is “right over left, then left over right.” It also works to do it left over right, then right over left. To get the mirror image effect on your shoes, one side needs to be tied starting with right over left, and the other side starting with left over right. It’s sometimes a little awkward tying the first part of the knot differently from how you usually do it, but for most people is quite noticeably awkward tying the second (bow) part differently from usual.

Tying right over right, then right over right; or left over left, then left over left; will produce a granny knot, which is not desirable. cantara’s link has pictures which may help. Just be aware that the mirror image of a square knot is a square knot, and a mirror image of a granny knot is a granny knot. The link does not show these mirror images. What you need is mirror image square knots, obviously changing only on the side that comes loose.

I was going to make that point. The experiment could be interesting, but I suspect the practical solution to the problem is to learn to tie the knot differently so that it is able to resist lateral forces from both directions. If nothing else, just tie an overhand in the finished loops. I do this, not to prevent slippage, but because the sneakers I buy seem to come with really long laces, and I have to do something to keep from walking on the damned things.

I am a runner, so I have faced the chronic untied lace problem many times.

About a year ago I ran across Ian’s Shoelace Site (the one cantara linked to) and started using Ian’s Secure Shoelace Knot.

I haven’t had a shoelace come undone during a run since then, and it’s getting so that I tie my shoes that way without really having to think about it.

Not sure what type of shoes your are talking about, but if you cross your legs at the ankle under your desk, you may always tend to put your left heal across the top to the right shoe.

Or, it could be the “There’s Always A Van On The Corner” syndrome.

Does this happen with more than one pair of shoes, or have you only just started noticing it?

Anyway, to see if we can hone in on a precise cause, here are a couple of diagnostic steps that you might like to try:
-Try walking around in the southern hemisphere for a few days
-Try wearing your shoes on the opposite feet for a few days

I’m the OP. From the page above, I realized that I was actually tieing my shoelaces in a granny knot. The granny knot seems to work fine on my left shoe. I’ve changed the knot on my right shoe to a square knot, and the problem seems to be solved. No untied right shoe in 3 days.