Wide toe box shoes have so many benefits over the standard toe-squishing shoe shape but wearing the wrong socks means you’re only solving half the problem. You choose wide toe box because they match our natural foot shape for better comfort and feel and less blisters but are you choosing socks that compliment your shoes, or that work against?
Read on to learn more on wide toe box shoe benefits and why you should choose toe socks to make your expensive shoe purchase work wonders for your foot comfort.
Benefits of Wide Toe Box Shoes
For those of you that aren’t up to speed with all the benefits of shoes with a natural toe box, here’s a quick run-down on how they help stop your dogs barking (feet hurting).
Firstly, we’re going to put it out there that it’s so odd that we have to say “wide toe box” shoes and that they aren’t the NORMAL shoe shape. Before the last 10 years or so when Lems, Vivo Barefoot, Altra and many more shoe brands became mainstream shoes choices with natural shaped toe boxes, almost all athletic shoes curved inward at the big toe, to create a point at the end of your shoe, un-naturally curving inwards at our big toe.
Your big toes stay naturally aligned
Letting your big toe keep tracking straight and true reduces risk of bunion formation, reduces fraction and most importantly let’s your big toe function best to propel us forward, utilizing our plantar fascia and the Windlass Mechanism (tap the link to read out past article about how key this is to good foot function).
Allow natural foot positioning and Splay
Most running shoes compress our forefoot together and toes, reducing balance and often causing a heap of discomfort, hot spots, and blisters as well as other painful issues like Morton’s neuroma.
Really? Yip, here’s a quick test to show you:
Stand barefooted and measure the width of your forefoot (keep your bodyweight on your feet) and then measure the width of the innersole in your shoes.
Often, your shoes aren’t wide enough - but if they are and you already have wide toe box shoes? Awesome! Read on down below about socks that compliment them.
Why Toe Socks are Perfect for Wide Toe Box Shoes
Yes, you read that right, Toe Socks. Just like wide toe box shoes, they’re naturally shaped, allow best foot function and movement and work with our feet, not against them - but, just like natural toe box shoes, they’re looked at as strange and different. Here’s why you should choose comfort, over the social norm. Why you should choose comfort, over ease of use and foot health, over looks.
I’m just going to come out and say it. We (most of us) don’t have webbed feet, right? That’s why it’s key that when you choose shoes with a natural toe box that you also invest in socks that also allow your feet and toes to spread and splay naturally, while, as a huge bonus, stopping all skin-on-skin friction.
Photo Credit: James Goodwill
“Normal” socks, compress your toes together
All athletic socks, whether for running, hiking or whatever you do to be active, contain elastane in them (elastane, lycra etc.) that help keep the socks snug on your feet, reduce slippage and feel supportive.
That is all well and good for those purposes and kind of essential, but it also means your toes get pulled together and all day long have compressive force on them. This may be light compression, but it’s still increasing the skin-on-skin contact and reducing the breathability between your toes. It’s still a negative and means it’s tougher for your toes to use that awesome new toe box in your shoes! That sucks.
Promote Function and Let your Toes Spread and Splay
To fully utilize wide toe box shoes, our feet need to be unrestricted and free to move naturally. That leaves us with choosing either
- socks with a wide forefoot
- Toe socks
- No socks
Using standard shaped socks that have a wider forefoot sounds ok, but they also don’t move with your toes well and tend to have a loose fit and bunch up. At the other end of the scale, using your wide toe box shoes with bare feet (no socks) means there’s no low-friction barrier between your skin and the abrasive shoe materials and seams - a recipe for disaster if you’re putting in the miles!
That leaves us with toe socks. The foot shaped, foot-first socks that are like a second skin for your feet, allowing you to kick ass and get the most benefit from your shoes.
Stop the toe chafe
Toe socks aren’t just for great toe alignment and natural foot function. They also take away skin-on-skin running by wrapping each toe in a moisture wicking, seamless sleeve.
Less hot spots, skin redness and blisters thanks to less rubbing, less moisture and better a better toe gap. With better breathability and moisture, you'll even help stop athletes foot.
Wide toe box shoes allow more natural foot positioning and function to improve comfort, prevent blisters, bunions and more but with “normal” tube shaped socks squishing your toes together, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
Pairing natural toe box shoes with high quality toe socks is a win. They both optimize your foot’s natural function and improve foot health for better all-day comfort, whatever your adventure.
The best toe socks?
We’re a little biased here at Creepers but if you’re wondering where to get the best toe socks, check out our lightweight, breathable, and low friction merino toe socks for socks that feel like they aren’t there. No restriction, no seams or discomfort, just full, natural function.