I have sweaty feet. There, I said it. I know, it’s gross, but up until last July, it hasn’t been too much of an issue for me. However, it, along with the fact that my feet are prone to blistering, created a real problem for me when I made the switch to minimalist footwear. Make me run for more than about three miles in a pair of Vibram FiveFingers and I’ll show you a blistering problem of the worst kind on the balls of my feet (ok, ok…it looks worse than it is, but it’s pretty disgusting). Even my Merrell Pace Gloves can leave my feet in a sad state. I’ve poked around forums enough to know that this is likely due to a sweat/friction combo that becomes a problem in minimalist footwear because most, if not all, minimalist shoes are meant to be worn without socks. While some people experience this problem because of an underlying issue with their form (pushing off with the balls of their feet and toes instead of just lifting), others, and as far as I can tell, myself, have to deal with it just because. A few people have had success with applying Vaseline or Body Glide to their feet before runs, but I use many of my minimalist shoes for casual purposes as well as for running, so adding a layer of grease to the inside of them (this post just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it?) didn’t sound like the best idea to me. So, as simple as it sounds, the best solution I’ve found is (yep, you guessed it) socks!
As you might expect, wearing socks with Vibram FiveFingers requires socks with separate toe pockets, which is not something I thought would ever enter back into my wardrobe after their brief rise to popularity when I was in middle school (here’s lookin’ at you, rainbow-striped knee socks). Luckily, there are several quality options on the market today, including Injini, Smartwool, and Toesox. With prices ranging from $10-$16, they are fairly expensive as far as socks go, but all of the pairs I’ve purchased thus far are holding up very well. Their sweat-wicking properties combined with the small amount of added cushioning are keeping my feet blister-free. Keep in mind that these are also a great sock option for shoes with an enclosed toe box because they help t0 prevent any blisters from forming between your toes if they rub together. I started out with just one pair of toe socks, and have ended up with a total of four pairs because I like wearing them every time I run. I will attest to the fact that antimicrobial properties of these socks allow for them to be worn more than once without the socks starting to smell, so if you are running 3-4 times a week, you can probably get away with just a couple pairs.
My favorites of the ones I’ve tried so far are the Smartwool Toe Sock Micro (made from Merino wool) and the Injinji Performance Series Lightweight No-Shows (a recent addition to the Injinji line-up). The Smartwools were great during the winter for keeping my feet warm without adding too much bulk inside of my shoes. They fit comfortably inside my Vibram FiveFingers, whereas some of the heavier Injinjis may make your VFFs feel a bit too snug. The Injinji No-Shows excel in warm weather; they are thin and light, but well-constructed. They are one of the best options for VFFs when the temperatures rise because they act more as sweat-wicking liner than a sock, keeping your feet dry and comfortable, without making them too warm or compromising the “sans sock” fit of your shoes. The No-Shows are also great because, they are, for the most part, only slightly visible above the edge of the shoe, but have a slightly thicker tab that extends up the heel (along your Achille’s) to help prevent any rubbing in that area.
As far as I can tell, with one exception, you can’t go wrong with any of the Smartwools or Injinjis. One style that I would recommend avoiding unless your shoe is fitting a bit large are the Injinji Performance Series Midweight socks. My single toe box shoes feel significantly tighter when I wear these socks and I can’t wear them with my VFFs because they make them uncomfortably tight. I don’t have any experience with Toesox, but based on their website, it looks like their hearts are in the right place. They also offer some half-toe socks that look interesting and might be good for people who want to add socks to their VFFs, but can’t fit the extra material in the toe pockets.
As always, feel free to let me know in the comments if you have any questions or concerns![suffusion-widgets id=’1′]
Meagan is a geochemistry research lab manager, runner, Netflix binge-watcher, and Mom to a rescue dog, a bunny, and a human child. She started running in May 2011 and ran her first half marathon in October 2012, followed by her first marathon in October 2013. In July 2018, she joined the triathlon world and completed an Olympic-distance race. After an extended break (pregnancy/maternity leave), she is making a long-overdue return to running and is preparing for a high-elevation half marathon at Crater Lake National Park in August 2020.