Nobody is born with shoes on their feet. Logical conclusion: We are not designed by nature to put our feet in sneakers, high heels, running shoes with pronation supports, platforms or other more or less comfortable shoes. For anatomical reasons, not every foot fits in every shoe. Especially people with very wide feet usually squeeze them more badly than right into their shoes every day. In the long run, this not only ruins your shoes, but also your feet themselves. No wonder when they are cooped up in a leather or cotton corset for many hours. It is also hardly surprising that more and more people are giving their feet more freedom. And if you can’t go completely barefoot, more and more people choose sock or barefoot shoes.

In the following article you will find out who sock shoes are useful for, what concepts there are and what terrain the minimalist shoes are suitable for.

Even children are recommended to discover the world barefoot as often as possible. The reason is simple: while the little feet are more or less immobilized in shoes, they have to work “in freedom”. For example, they compensate for unevenness on the floor. In this way, children can train and strengthen the still developing foot arch and foot muscles at daycare age. And thus also reduce the risk of a later splayfoot, skewed foot or flat foot. However, walking barefoot on park or footpaths is not without risk. Sharp stones or even broken glass can injure your feet. And this is where the sock shoes come in. In contrast to “normal” sports or leisure shoes, their upper material is elastic. Instead of a solid sole, a reinforced, often rubberized sole prevents possible cuts. However, the training effect is similar to that of running barefoot. Most manufacturers of sock or barefoot shoes offer their models for very small (like these Leguanitos “active”), but also for adult feet. Here’s the “Classic” model from Leguano.

If you like it a bit more puristic and natural, you can also leave out the rubberized sole. With so-called sock shoes, the sole area is only reinforced with an abrasion-resistant material. In the case of the Skinner Socks (available here, for example), this is a Swedish polymer, a material that is also used in marine engineering. Sock shoes with such a sole are therefore also an adequate replacement for normal hiking or barefoot shoes with a flexible rubber sole for trekking tours or other outdoor sports. Some models are even protected against moisture. Whether with or without a rubber sole: Both variants are challenging for the arch of the foot.

Tip: Take it slow with the first pair of sock or barefoot shoes. Running is not only more strenuous, it is also unfamiliar at first.

Admittedly, walking through the forest or the mountains in socks sounds a bit strange at first. Many people can’t even imagine going to a restaurant or the opera with just socks on their feet. Understandable. But even for such occasions there are shoes that offer the feet the greatest possible freedom – and still look elegant. Slip-on sneakers are the magic word here. The flexible soles are similar to those of sneakers or running shoes like the Free from Nike. The upper part of the shoe is reminiscent of a sewn-on sock. Neither the heel cap is reinforced, nor does the upper material need a lacing. Plain and simple. Here’s the NMD CS 1 City Sock from Adidas.

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Anyone who is still wondering what exactly the difference is between sock shoes and barefoot socks should remember the following: Both terms mean the same thing, although the term sock shoes is becoming more and more common. Probably also because you can basically wear the models mentioned above like shoes. The latest trend when it comes to barefoot socks: Because some barefoot fans find conventional barefoot fashion too narrow in the toe area, there is a trend towards socks with a wider toe area. Possibly a healthy alternative to the toe socks that didn’t really catch on. These non-slip socks from Zyll are designed to fulfill the dream of more freedom for the quintet of toes while still looking good while snorkeling, diving and swimming.

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