Whether you’re looking to enhance your foot-skills, keep your shoes clean and dry or improve balance, custom grip socks can help. These special socks are designed with rubber paneling on the sole of each sock to prevent slipping and are often used in gym classes such as yoga, barre and pilates to provide additional traction. Custom grip socks are also popular for team sports where players must change direction quickly. They have the added benefit of helping to avoid blisters and keep your feet cool and comfortable.
Despite their popularity grip socks have not been scientifically tested, and it is unclear what the optimal level of friction between the foot and shoe is to limit in-shoe foot displacement and enhance agility performance. This is particularly important as a recent study has linked different sock materials with plantar pressures and shear forces that are associated with foot discomfort and injury (Castro et al., 2021).
The aim of this study was to test the effect of grip socks on in-shoe foot displacement and change of direction performance during a side-cut and sharper turn change of direction manoeuvre. The results show that grip socks significantly reduced in-shoe foot displacement, especially during the sharper turn manoeuvre. This was attributed to the increased mechanical coefficient of friction between the sock and shoe which reduced in-shoe foot spreading and consequently deceleration in the rearfoot. The results from this study suggest that the grip sock provides a viable alternative to commercial indoor football shoes to improve agility performance in both male and female participants.
Before each trial participants completed a 10-minute warm-up including dynamic stretches and familiarisation to the cutting manoeuvres. They then completed five maximal effort 45deg side-cuts and five 180deg turns in each of the four sock conditions. A force plate was utilised to measure the sock-shoe contact forces and to monitor foot position. Participants were required to fasten their shoes to their preferred tightness before each trial and ensure marks were clearly visible through the top eyelets for all trials. Timing gates were used to monitor approach speed.
Blinding was not possible due to the rubber nodules on GS which are visibly distinct from regular socks. However, we do not believe that this confounded the results because it is unlikely that GS increases in-shoe foot displacement through the calcaneus, as previous research has suggested. Furthermore, the slender instep of the female foot requires greater space within the shoe, which could explain why previous studies have not found any differences in in-shoe foot displacement between sock conditions. The number of statistical tests performed in this study was large for an explorative study, and therefore, it is likely that some results were influenced by random chance. This is why a replication study is being conducted to confirm the findings of this study. In addition, a sex comparison between men and women will be performed to identify any potential differences in results. However, it is hoped that this study will provide a useful foundation for future work to determine the optimal level of friction between the sock and shoe that will reduce in-shoe foot movement and enhance agility performance. custom grip socks