I know it seems silly that I would be telling anyone over 5 years-old how to tie their shoes, but I’m here telling you (in the nicest way) that you’re probably doing it wrong. I’m sure your shoelaces stay in place just fine, but how are your feet and back?
Let me digress for a moment for a little anatomy lesson. The foot is meant to be both flexible (for mobility) and stiff (acting as a base to propel or move the body). Our body is able to stand and move thanks to all those little bones in the foot. In an un-weighted and partially weighted position, the foot is flexible. However, as our weight transfers forward over our foot those little bones lock together and form a lever that hinges at our ankle. This locking allows us to propel our body forward.
Since we are a culture that does not squat, (anyone who has done traveling outside of US and Europe can attest to that), our ankles and calves have become tight. This lack of flexibility in the calf decreases the angle at which the ankle hinges. When this happens, our feet tend to “pronate” or shift in a way that may cause strain in the foot. Prolonged strain causes foot pain- from the dreaded plantar fasciitis to bunions. Each foot is different, but lack of flexibility in the ankle is a common problem. I believe that our tight ankles and calves need to be stretch out. Their tightness is directly related to our pronation. The lunge stretch is a good way of lengthening the calf. From the standing position, lean forward onto one leg, and take a big step back with the other leg into a lunge. The front leg bends and the back leg stays straight. Make sure you do not lock your knee. Hold for at least 20 seconds repeat 2-3 times.
So how does this relate to tying your shoes? Most people tie their shoes without putting weight on their foot, either sitting or lifting the foot up. This puts the foot in front of the knee joint and decreases the ankle hinge. Tying your shoes this way literally ties your foot into the wrong position. It decrease the hinging of the ankle and can hyper extend your knee. If the ankle is not hinged properly the bones in the base of your foot can’t lock and therefore can’t do their work. Placing strain on other parts of your body.
I recommend putting weight on your foot while tying your shoes. You can half kneel to tie you shoe with weight on the foot you are tying. You can also put your foot up on a chair if you lean your weight into the foot, dropping the heal a little( ie hinging the ankle). Tying the shoe with a weighted foot secures the hinge in at the right place- the front of the ankle not the middle of the foot.
Don’t believe me? Try tying one shoe as you normally would and the other with the ankle-hinge method. See if you can tell the difference. What do you feel? I promise it helps. I give this tip often to my clients who run, because I feel it creates better shock absorption through the feet, ankles and knees.