For all of you that are going, “huh???” don’t worry… I had the exact same reaction not too long ago… “What the heck are Injinji’s???” Well, I’m not sure how many people are old enough to remember the toe socks of the 70’s that had multiple colored toe and were usually striped… if you know what I’m talking about, you’re getting closer to Injinji’s. Injinji toe socks are socks that were originally designed to be used in conjunction with Vibram running shoes which are shoes meant to simulate barefoot running without the need to freeze your little piggies off or develop callouses the thickness of elephant hide. They are socks that are designed for running, using moisture wicking fabric, but they have individual toes – so each foot has its very own sock.
Now, many people in the traditional running community, as well as other sports have picked up on wearing these funky looking socks (They now even make them toeless – think fingerless gloves for your feet – for yoga!). Injinji’s separate your toes which might not seem like a real big deal… and really, on the grand scale it might not be. But for me, I really like the fact that each of my toes has its own little nest of comfort. I know my sister-in-law really likes them because she often will get blisters that come up between her toes and Injinji's help reduce the incidence of that happening. I think they keep my toes warmer. I put a pair on under a pair of regular running socks for the 5K on New Year’s Day and didn’t have any problems at all with my feet getting cold, despite temps in the upper 20’s (think glove liners for your feet!). Supposedly, they are supposed to provide your foot and toes with better control and therefore better support and balance – thus leading to overall better performance. I’m not to a level of performance where I think I would really notice a difference in this area, I just know that I really like them and they make my feet happy! I was also reading that they are supposed to help reduce the occurrence of foot or toe fungus because they provide a protective layer around each toe and reduce friction and stresses that encourage the growth of fungus… so that in and of itself might be reason enough in my book to love my Injinji’s!
I was a little worried about wearing these when I first learned about them. To be brutally honest, I have toes (and feet) that will NEVER be considered for a foot modeling job. My feet are wide and my toes are the fattest toes I have ever seen in my life… they’ve been that way since birth… one of my friends in elementary school told me my big toe was fatter than a carrot! On top of this, my little toe is all curled and crooked… I was concerned that my toes might not even be able to get into a pair of Injinji’s. Yes, I do have to concentrate a little harder when putting these on… but I like to think of it as a good thing… each toe gets a little personal attention from me as I lovingly cocoon it in friction-reducing moisture-wicking fabric.
Do they feel strange on your feet? Well, maybe a little at first. But honestly, I don’t notice the strangeness of them while I’m out running in them. I was a little worried at first that I might be so obsessed over the feel of the socks between my toes that I wouldn’t be able to focus on the more important aspects of my run (like actually running!)… but that’s just not the case. You forget about the odd sensations and just know that your feet feel pretty darn good while wearing them.
Alas, these little guys aren’t cheap. Granted, they’re not the price of a pair of good running shoes… but for someone who usually likes to buy her socks in bulk at Costco or Target, laying out between $12 and $20 for a pair caused a bit of sticker shock. Thankfully, I have a wonderful cousin who outfitted me with some for Christmas… thanks Lea, great gift! In the end, do I think these socks are worth the additional expenditure… I would say it depends… if you are just starting out and are still trying to decide if you will be a runner long-term, then I would say just go for the basic running socks with breathable mesh and arch support. However, if you know that you are into running for the long haul, buying yourself a pair of two on Injinji’s that will get lovingly worn until they’re holey, thread-bare, and your toes are peeking out the ends, then I would say they are definitely worth the investment.
Okay, I will begrudgingly admit these socks might not be for everyone. My guess is that there will be those people who can’t get past the strangeness of having a layer of fabric surrounding each toe and, at least the pairs I own, don’t have super duper arch support… but usually I wear mine with another pair of socks anyway (they do make them in multiple levels of thickness for those of you who like to wear a liner sock… or not) that does have arch support. And like I said, they are a bit pricey if you are on a budget, so some people might not think they are worth the expense. But personally, I hope Injinji’s stay around for a long time to come… they make my feet… and by extension me just a little bit happier runner… and that’s always a good thing!