Toesocks are now a popular choice among yogis. Here, Sinan Yilmaz explains how a single, novelty pair from Japan motivated him to form toesock specialists TOETOE
In 1997, my partner and I received a curious gift from a friend in Japan. Inside the parcel we discovered something that seemed to be a combination of a sock and a glove. It was, in fact, socks with separate knitted compartments for the toes. We had been given some toesocks. Gloves for feet. We were intrigued.
I put a pair on my feet immediately. It was a fun, sensory experience. First of all, my toes were a little bemused as to how to find their way into their individual ‘houses’ and so I had to use my hands to guide them. This meant my feet got a little massage. Felt good. Incidentally, my toes learnt very quickly after that how to make their way to the right place in the sock. Moreover, after a couple of weeks my feet and toes became mobile enough to wriggle into the toesocks very easily!
The next experience was when I looked down at my feet and it was as if I was looking down at my hands on the end of my legs. I could feel my brain realising that my hands and my feet have similar structures and similar potential. Spontaneously, my toes wanted to move and wriggle. Wearing toesocks sparked a movement impulse in my feet.
Of course, I knew I had toes, but I had never been so aware of them in a physical way before I had put on these toesocks. This was my first experience of feeling connected to my toes and it created an instant curiosity. Since then I have been pleasantly sensing the presence of my feet and toes.
A simple idea
This first experience was so fascinating that I decided to start wearing the toesocks continuously as an experiment.
In those days I was doing computer programming, sitting around a lot, so my feet often tended to get cold. With the regular wearing of toesocks that started to change, and my feet more often felt warm.
This new resistance to cold came about with an increase in movement in my feet, which started when I chose to wear toesocks for a while. The experience of having better blood circulation to my feet was amazingly comforting. I needed to share this experience with the world.
An idea was forming to create toesocks that could be worn as everyday socks. This was something that had not been done before. In Japan, toesocks were used for athletes’ foot and other medical treatments for feet.
In the 1970s, people were wearing enormous, knitted novelty toesocks as indoor slippers. No-one had yet thought of wearing them daily as an everyday sock in everyday shoes. The delight of my own feet had given me this idea. It was an exciting time.
Toesocks for all
The ethos of what was to become TOETOE was gently taking shape. I wanted to create a business to help people to revolutionise their footwear habits and to rediscover their toes too.
We started with one style of everyday toesocks in four colours. At TOETOE we now have 50 styles and nearly 300 variations to choose from. I have combined my passion for colour and my knowledge about fabric and knitting to create our ranges.
We also like to include as many activities as possible. There are now TOETOE toesocks for runners, hikers, yoga and Pilates practitioners, tennis players, skiing enthusiasts and cyclists, among others.
TOETOE now has six ranges and dozens of styles for all different activities. The six ranges are: Essential (everyday socks); Sports (to enhance performance); Outdoors (for walking and outdoor activities); Legwear (nylons evolved!); Health (for boosting foot health); and Yoga & Pilates (anti-slip socks for protection and good hygiene).
TOETOE toesocks have become an easy and pleasurable way of taking care of our feet. Although most of us experience some kind of foot discomfort or issue at some stage in our lives, we generally tend to leave it unattended and eventually forget about it. Human nature!
When we recognise everything in our body is connected, we realise taking care of our feet is an essential part of our everyday self-care. Looking at the structure of the foot, there are so many bones and muscles capable of movement; nothing is fixed, and everything has the potential to move and adjust to any situation.
The elements of the foot (bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons) result in a movement pattern that continues up through the body connecting to the head. The easy functioning of one area (the feet) supports the movement of the next joint up (the ankles or knees) which then helps the next area up (maybe the hips) to be free and so on.
Our bodies keep learning, so we can use the socks to direct this learning and adaptation. With TOETOE socks our feet and our bodies can realise the innate potential available through freedom and spiralling connectivity.
SOCKS WITH BENEFITS
Balance: When you are aware of your toes your feet will function properly, your toes are free to move, so you are able to balance yourself better.
Optimum warmth: When toes move, the blood inside also moves. This keeps your feet at the right temperature – not too hot, not too cold.
Better hygiene: With ordinary socks, dirt and moisture pile up between your toes – that’s why feet sometimes smell. Toesocks greatly help to solve this problem.
Free movement: Flexible toes communicate better with the body to encourage good posture. With toesocks, it’s as though you’re barefoot whilst wearing socks. It opens the way towards better, exercised, healthier, active, controlled, yet liberated toes. Open your mind and free your toes!
Our socks are an offering of love to improve the life of our feet. The many benefits of TOETOE toe-separated socks can be arranged into two main groups, hygiene and movement.
Hygiene: The socks create an unfriendly environment for bacterial growth. The separation of toes with thin fabric dramatically reduces heat, moisture and the prevalence of dirt/skin flakes, on which bacteria thrive. They cannot multiply as easily. Fewer bacteria means feet can stay relatively dry and smell-free.
Movement: There is a pleasant sensation that comes with feeling soft fabric around each toe sending a message flowing between our feet and brain registering the toes are free to move.
TOETOE Enhanced Proprioception Technology (EPTT) is about becoming more aware of our toes and, as a result, there is a Movement Pattern Shift (MPS) in the feet.
Transformation comes through regular wearing of the socks. More mobile feet bring many benefits, including circulation, balance and other aspects of foot health.
Sinan Yilmaz MD is the founder of TOETOE (toesocks.co.uk)
Blister prevention: TOETOE socks stop your toes rubbing together when you walk, run, jog, play sport or workout. This stops your feet getting blisters.
Toe exercise: If your toes move regularly, they will stay in their natural shape. If you keep them rigid, they may curve and overlap.