A Barefoot Guide to Socks That Don’t Squish Your Toes

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Can you do this in your socks?

Weird things start happening when you adopt a movement-centered lifestyle. Your bras and your waist band start feeling tight. You find yourself avoiding jeans because you can’t sit on the floor in them. You rip your socks and shoes off whenever you get a chance. Then suddenly it hits you. You’ve been uncomfortable your whole freaking life and just weren’t paying attention. #woke.

While I could go on and on about a movement friendly wardrobe, today we’re just going to talk about socks. If you’re here, you probably already know about minimalist footwear (If you don’t, welcome! And check out this post). But it doesn’t stop with shoes. MANY people start hating their socks after switching to barefoot shoes, and this picture illustrates why.

See how my last three toes are pushed in by the curve of the sock?

Socks can deform your feet just like shoes can. So if you feel like your socks are irritating your feet, it’s not in your head. They probably are.

What to do?

Go Sock-less

My son thought these were my husband’s feet…so sorry about the leg hair. It’s winter. Also, those are Feelgrounds shoes.

You could just not wear socks. This is how I roll most of the time, and it’s not as gross as you think. Healthy feet that get lots of blood flow and fresh air don’t grow bacteria the way cramped feet with poor circulation do. So you’re less likely to funk up your shoes. This works out better in shoes that breathe well and are made from natural materials like leather and cotton or hemp.

Wear Bigger Socks

If you have small feet, sizing up in socks is an option. This is a good way to get tights for work or thick wool socks. I wear these men’s socks as house slippers and love them. But this won’t work for everyone. My husband wears a men’s size 13, so sizing up in socks isn’t even a possibility for him.

Wear Toe Socks

Injinji Every Day Crew (out of stock in black, but there’s also these). Wearing Groundies Odessa boots

The next option is toe socks. I was kind of anti toe socks for a long time, because it just seemed like too much sensory input. Also, they look creepy. I was finally convinced to try them a few months ago by you, dear readers, and I am now fully converted.

I’ve been wearing these with all my low cut boots, like the The Drifter Leather Chelsea boots

Injinji is a favorite brand among barefoot-ers, so that’s what I tried and I love them. They are much more comfortable than regular socks and the material is so soft and stretchy it doesn’t bother my toes. I love that Injinji makes all different kinds of socks, including no-show socks (they call them hidden socks) and foot-shaped socks that aren’t toe socks. I had completely given up on the no-show socks because they all clung to my toes in an uncomfortable way, so finding these ones from Injinji was a real treat.

Wearing Vivobarefoot Court Sneakers

It does take a little more time to put on these socks because they have a left and a right and you have to deal with the individual toes. But it’s really not much of a cost to have socks that I’m not constantly tugging at.

Anatomical Wool Socks

My only beef about Injinji socks is that they’re kind of ‘spensive. I’m used to getting a 10 pack of socks from Costco for $10 dollars and having a drawer full of them. With my Injinji socks I have fewer and I keep close track of them so I don’t lose any. Getting the wool sock + liner combo gives you two socks and is a good way to save a little money.

I haven’t had them for too long, so I can’t say how durable they are. But they do have a warranty program where you can put in a request for a new pair if yours fall apart. It’s not explicitly stated how long the warranty is, applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and you have to contact them to apply. These Injinji socks definitely seem better than my Costco socks, which usually last me about a year.

Chunky boots socks

Belenka Icon Shoes

When it comes to fashion, thick socks are kind of a must in a woman’s closet. These are my favorite chunky boot socks that some of you have seen in my Instagram posts. I’ve been wearing them for two winters and they are some of the only regular socks I own that don’t bug my toes at all. They’ve also stretched even more over time (real wool stretches, whereas cotton socks can shrink in the dryer).

I also like the wool socks from Injinji as boot socks, but they’re not quite as chunky as the ones above.

Injinji Outdoor NuWool Socks and DaVinci Footwear boots (company closed)

Riding boot socks

The Drifter Leather Riding Boots

If you want tall socks to stick out of your riding boots, Injinji makes these that I plan to get for myself next season. Only thing about the Injinji ones is the brand tag is obnoxiously big and red, and I would definitely remove it before wearing. I currently have these regular knee high boot socks and they kind of squish my toes, but aren’t terrible.

Another option that I have yet to try is yoga socks or stirrup leg warmers. These can go over a bare foot or over a thin sock to fill in the space in a boot.

Conclusion

Rethinking your socks is a natural step on the path to toe freedom, and isn’t hard to do. You certainly don’t have to wear toe socks to be good to your feet, but it’s my new favorite way to let my toes do their thing while I stay warm.

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40 thoughts on “A Barefoot Guide to Socks That Don’t Squish Your Toes”

  1. REI has Iniji socks on sale right now.
    Love your reviews! They help me determine my size and discover new stylish options. Thank you!

      1. Hi Anya,
        Have you got any recommendations for woolly/warm tights? Love to wear dresses with lots of layers in the winter, but would also like my toes to have enough space! Thanks.

        1. I don’t know of any warm tights that are toe socks or anatomically shaped unfortunately. But you could modify your tights by cutting toe holes in them and or wearing footless tights and then putting toe socks over the top. These over the knee toe socks from Toe Toe could be worn over thinner footless tights for example. I’ve always done creative stuff like that when I needed warm legs with dresses. Another option is tall leg warmers over the top of thinner toe socks.

    1. I’m new to barefoot shoes and everything but I knit boot cuffs to wear with less chunky socks since I live in LA it doesn’t get very cold so a full thick sock can be overkill. You can buy them on etsy or bootcuffsocks.com

  2. I’ve been wearing nothing but Injinji’s for maybe 7 years now. They last a long time, maybe 3 years before I get a hole from my big toenail. Love your blog and your shoe selection is much more extensive and stylish than Katy Bowman’s!

      1. We haven’t tried them yet, but I’ve been eying Plus12 socks. They have adult and children’s sizes, and they even have a gripper sock for younger kids. https://plus12socks.com/shop-2/?lang=en

        Toe socks will be a great option for our kiddo in the future, but it’s been nearly impossible to find barefoot-friendly socks for our young toddler.

        1. Those look great. Socks for little kids are tough, and even for bigger kids. Mine won’t wear toe socks, so we just size up in regular socks for when they really need them (in harsh winter). Otherwise, my kids don’t hardly ever wear socks. Their shoes get stinky, but I guess I can’t blame them for wanting the toe freedom. I might need to get some of those Plus 12 ones to see if they like them!

          1. Update: I ordered one pair of Plus12 socks for myself and several of their gripper socks for my toddler. I’m a fan! My only complaint is that the toe seam is quite noticeable. Otherwise, they’re so great. After scouring the internet for foot-shaped, grippy socks for my son, I am thrilled to have found these! I’ll definitely be buying more.

  3. Hi Anya, Thanks for this guide! With more time at home with shoes and socks off, my feet have definitely stretched out. I’ve started to notice that the compression band that goes around the middle of the foot on a sock has become bothersome for me. However, a lot of the sports (and casual) socks from injinji and toetoe have this band, which they call arch support. Any tips on finding a thin moisture wicking sport sock (mini crew length) that has room for toes, but no compression mid foot. (I bought the socks from your store, which thankfully look like they don’t have this band, but those are cotton and full crew, so I still looking for sport socks)

      1. Thanks Anya! Btw, I ordered some injinji socks and found that they really don’t apply much pressure around the mid foot. In fact, these are my favorite socks now by far. I guess not every sock that has a “arch support”/compression band around the middle of the foot really applies too much unnecessary compression.

        1. Oh good! I actually noticed after I replied to your comment that several of my Injinji socks also don’t have that compression band. Glad you were able to find some options that work for you.

  4. Check out Maggie’s Functional Organics. The wool hiker and striped footie have fairly generous toe boxes and are made without polyester!

  5. Don’t ever apologize for not shaving! Just because society has conditioned women we have to shave to be beautiful doesn’t mean it’s true! I don’t shave my legs ever and it doesn’t make me less of a woman!

    Also, some brands of socks sell “extended” sizes for those with big feet. For example, the socks my size-13 husband wears from Costco can be ordered online in extended sizes that have a range of men’s size 12-16. So if you’re on the low range of that it might work!

  6. Thank you so much for all the info! As it is getting colder I tried to wear Injinji toesocks but it messes with my proprioception to the point where I can’t tell what my toes are doing. I developed a painful nerve twinge in my right big toe. Going sockless for a few days helped but my toes keep turning blue so I was looking for other options. So happy to see there are options!

  7. I’m desperately trying to get more toe socks. I have a hard time with ordering online, it’s REALLY HARD for me!!!!!! Please just send me a phone number….😥 I need toe socks!?!?!?

  8. Hi Anya, I have one pair of toesocks but I also feel this kind of sensoric overflow and my toes get cold after a while. I really want to wear them and feel comfortable. How did you get used to the sensoric thing?
    Regards Katharina

  9. Are there any toe separator socks designed for people with long toes? I have very long toes and my toe separator socks feel tight. I also like to wear them with Correct Toes spacers, and the spacers keep on slipping toward the end of the toe because the toes on the socks are too short.

    1. Great question! My husband has extra long toes and has the same issue. Injinji was a no go for him, but Knitido DE has been one of the best options so far (I would also say Knitido Plus in the USA, but they only carry women’s smaller sizes).

        1. I wouldn’t know, I have one set of socks from Amazon but they don’t look the same as those. Just out of curiosity though I laid my Amazon ones on top of my Knitido socks and the Knitido toes were nearly .5cm longer than the Amazon ones.

          1. So, I got the Knitido DE socks, and they are made out of super stretchy material, so even though they look smaller than the Amazon socks I have, they are really bigger. Thank you for the recommendation!

  10. My son has webbed toes – his second and third toes are connected. Are there any toe socks that can be made to fit him?

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Hi. I'm Anya.

Hi. I'm Anya.

I first discovered barefoot shoes after a long history of foot issues. By changing my footwear and strengthening my body I was able to completely transform my life. Anya’s Reviews is my way of sharing with the world that healthy feet are happy feet!

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