What are the benefits of toe socks?

Athletic toe socks reduce the friction between toes and shoes during activity. Typically seen in distance runners, toe socks provide a layer of fabric between each toe that reduces the likelihood of blisters, hang nails, and other foot injuries caused by rubbing of the toes on the shoe or other toes.
Toe socks can help reduce friction from your toes rubbing against one another, and from your toes rubbing on your shoe.  Traditionally distance runners use toe socks to help prevent blisters.  However, toe socks can also provide sensory feedback, which helps beginning runners and fitness walkers direct their attention to a proper toe "push-off" during a stride.

Beginning runners and fitness walkers often need to learn a more efficient running or walking form.  Dress shoes, high-heeled shoes, and casual apparel such as flip-flops can cause people to alter the way that their foot strikes the ground during a stride, to the point where a less efficient form has become habit.  Overcoming these habitual ways of moving takes mental focus, but taking the time to develop more efficient biomechanics can help runners and walkers improve their performance and reduce the risk of injury.

One important feature of an efficient running form is the "toe-off," when a person's center of gravity rolls through the ball of the foot, and the toes help "push" the stride forward. In ordinary socks, our toes only touch each other, and most of the time we are not aware of how our toes slide against one another as we move forward.  Toe socks can provide extra sensory feedback that comes from having fabric between your toes, and help draw a person's conscious attention to the movement of the toes during the "toe-off" portion of the stride.

For more information about how to improve the biomechanics of your walking or running stride, see the book "Natural Running" by Danny Abshire & Brian Meltzer.  

Continue Learning about Fitness Footwear

How can I make my sneakers fit better?
Dr. Michael Roizen, MDDr. Michael Roizen, MD
You can custom-fit your athletic shoes to your footfall with an orthotic insert. Some shoes stor...
More Answers
How should I choose a running shoe?
National Athletic Trainers' AssociationNational Athletic Trainers' Association
In general, running shoes should have a cushioned midsole, a firm heel counter, and about a th...
More Answers
Which brand of athletic shoes are considered the most comfortable?
National Academy of Sports MedicineNational Academy of Sports Medicine
Comfort of shoes depends on a lot of factors including shoe width, length, level of arch support, an...
More Answers
What Are the Best Shoes to Wear to Protect Your Feet?
What Are the Best Shoes to Wear to Protect Your Feet?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.