Five-finger toe socks are often fobbed off as creepy or a gimmick, but they have a lot of benefits over conventional socks. We’re going to cover those pros and cons so that you can know whether your feet would be happier in funny-looking foot-shaped socks.
Toe socks have been around for a while now, often relegated as a gimmick harking back to the 1980’s rainbow, calf-length socks (like this), or isolated to use in specific communities such as long-distance ultra and trail runners for toe protection.
Should toe socks be normal socks?
Let’s explore the pros and cons:
- Blister protection
- Foot hygeine
- Optimised biomechanics
Most people that have gone hiking over multiple days or run 20km+ would have experienced blisters on their toes from the friction of their toes rubbing together. This issue is all but gone when toe socks are used. Having your toes in separate sleeves reduces friction and hot spots and leaves you in blister-free bliss.
Athletes’ foot, sweaty toes, and other bacterial or fungal issues are all too common with feet. This often occurs de ot the feet being in socks and shoes for long periods with foot breathability and ability to spread out. Toe socks do help with reducing this as with fabric surrounding each toe helps wick away extra moisture and also allows a small gap between your toes to reduce moisture further
Your big toe plays an important part in foot mechanics. Your foot is made to be mobile and rolls with the punches when in stance phase but then turns into a strong lever when your heel comes up and you go to push off in order to move economically and not lose any force. This is called the windlass mechanism and occurs via your plantar fascia, which runs from your heel to your big toe. As our heel comes off the ground, your big toe is pushed up, increasing tension on the plantar fascia, which raises and stabilizes your arch up.
With traditional sleeve-shaped socks, all the toes are pulled and held together, often causing the big toe to losing its straight alignment and reducing your windlass mechanism. With toe socks, good function is optimized as with your big toe separate, it can maintain good alignment and continue to function how it was intended.
- Thin material
- Lagre variation in quality
- They look a bit creepy!
Due to the increased detail needed to manufacture toe socks, it’s difficult to make them very thick. As well as this, if the toe sleeve walls were too thick, they would become difficult to get on. This limited thickness means the socks won’t last forever and will eventually wear and get holes.
The quality socks aren’t cheap and that is partly due to the increased cost of manufacturing toe socks
Variation in quality
Yes, there are huge variations in stitching quality of toe socks available and the best ones have seamless toe stitching where the seam is not inside the toe sleeve and so there is nothing to cause irritation.
They look a bit creepy
This is largely because they are different from what we are used to I think and fair enough too, toe socks aren’t to everyone’s liking.
Toe socks are foot-shaped, rather than shoe-shaped and allow our toes to breath better and move better, as long as your shoes aren’t too narrow. They help reduce discomfort and irritation when on your feet for long periods and definitely help reduce blisters on long runs or hikes. So yes, they are functional, but not always easy on the eye for a lot of people.
Toe sock reccommendations
These are the best we have come across thus far:
Injinji: Most popular and well known
Creepers socks; Sustainably made Merino socks and high rating