You slip them on without a second thought, but some socks do more than keep your toes warm, from stretching tight muscles to easing pain, and even preventing falls in the elderly.
We asked experts to assess a selection — we then rated them.
Powerstep Ultrastretch Night Sock scored a six out of ten and costs £29.21 online
Relieve foot injuries
Powerstep Ultrastretch Night Sock, from £29.41, amazon.co.uk
CLAIM: An adjustable strap from the toe to the top of the sock gently pulls the foot upwards, stretching the calf muscle and soft tissue of the foot and ankle.
The maker says keeping the foot in this ‘neutral’ position overnight helps alleviate pain from common overuse injuries, such as plantar fasciitis (where the thick ligament on the sole becomes inflamed) and Achilles tendonitis (an ache in the tendon that attaches the calf to the heel).
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘These socks are useful for stretching the big toe — which could help with plantar fasciitis — but probably won’t stretch the ankle or calf muscles enough to ease pain,’ says Tim Allardyce, a physiotherapist at Surrey Physio. ‘For this you would need a more solid splint or brace.
‘Wearing socks like this at night might be uncomfortable at first, so you’d need to build up your tolerance. It’s an interesting product and it might work for some, but I couldn’t find any validated research to back up its claims.’ 6/10
These socks have rubber on the soles to help with grip but experts said ‘research shows there’s no firm evidence that this type of anti-slip sock can prevent falls’
Reduce risk of falls
Medline Double Tread Slipper Socks, £3.97, healthandcare.co.uk
CLAIM: These socks have a criss-cross tread made of a rubber-like material all over, to help grip to the floor and reduce the risk of falls.
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘A 2017 review of research concluded that there’s no firm evidence that this type of anti-slip sock can prevent falls — even in hospital patients,’ says Stuart Metcalfe, a consultant podiatric surgeon at Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull.
‘Socks just aren’t strong enough to keep you balanced — it is better to wear sturdy shoes [low heel and covering the toes for added protection] or firm slippers.’ 3/10
The sleep socks made from 90 per cent acrylic scored the highest out of the products
Drew Brady Sleep Socks, from £4.91, amazon.co.uk
CLAIM: Thermal socks, made from 90 per cent acrylic and 10 per cent polyamide, these are said to ‘aid a restful and natural night’s sleep’.
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘Recent published research has looked at the effect of bed socks and concluded that they can help people get to sleep quicker and stay asleep for longer without night-time interruptions,’ says Dr Neil Stanley, an independent sleep expert and author of How To Sleep Well.
‘These socks are not excessively thick, which is good, as hot feet can wake us up as much as cold feet. Ideally for us to fall asleep, the room should be between 16c to 18c and body temperature at a normal 37c.’ 9/10
Silipos Arthritis and Diabetic Gel Socks have gel cushioning on the sole to reduce friction and the formation of calluses
Silipos Arthritis and Diabetic Gel Socks, £10.92, shoeinsoles.co.uk
CLAIM: These have gel cushioning on the sole to reduce friction and the formation of calluses — and prevent ulcers. They are said to be suitable for people with diabetes and reduced sensation in their feet due to nerve damage, which leads to injuries going unnoticed and turning into ulcers.
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘In general, these padded socks are a good idea for those who have lost some of the fatty padding under their feet, which occurs as we age,’ says Matthew Fitzpatrick, a consultant podiatrist and spokesperson for the College of Podiatry.
‘But you would have to wear slightly wider shoes, as with normal shoes, it might be a tighter fit which increases pressure on the foot. In someone with nerve damage, this could cause ulcers or neuromas [benign growths of nerve tissue which cause pain and numbness].’ 4/10
These toeless compression socks can be worn under regular socks or on their own
Copper Shield Ankle Compression Sleeves, £12.99, amazon.co.uk
CLAIM: Made with copper, which is said to improve oxygen circulation to the foot to ease pain, these toeless compression socks can be worn under regular socks or on their own.
They are ‘guaranteed to cure’ ailments including arthritis, plantar fasciitis, restless leg syndrome and heel spurs (bony protrusions) — or ‘your money back’, says their maker.
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘There is no good evidence to support the healing properties of copper in reducing pain, so these won’t help in arthritis or plantar fasciitis,’ says Kumar Kunasingam, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Croydon University Hospital.
‘As far as compression socks go, these are only ankle length — after surgery or on flights, we need longer compression socks that cover the calf, otherwise blood pools at the top of the sock and won’t be pushed up far enough.’ 2/10
With ‘graduated compression’, these stockings are tighter at the ankle and looser at the knee and could help stop blood clots
Stop blood clots
Kensington Compression Cotton Anti-DVT Flight Socks, £7.99, amazon.co.uk
CLAIM: With ‘graduated compression’, these stockings are tighter at the ankle and looser at the knee.
This is said to make blood flow more efficiently upwards in the lower leg, making it less likely to clot.
Clots tend to occur when we are inactive for long periods of time, such as after an operation or during a long journey.
The risk is clots in the veins in the leg, called deep vein thromboses (DVTs), which can travel to the lungs, a potentially life-threatening condition.
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘Graduated compression socks are effective in preventing DVTs and should be worn on flights longer than four hours — but the crucial factor is how they fit,’ says Professor Mark Whiteley, a consultant venous surgeon at the Whiteley Clinics in London.
‘These come in small, medium and large based on shoe size, so they don’t consider the width of the ankles and calves, or length of the lower leg, which should be measured.
‘It would be pot-luck whether you get the right amount of compression. If the stocking is too baggy or too tight, you wouldn’t get the benefit.’ 5/10
These socks are the most expensive out of the nine tested at £198.99
Sidas Pro Heated Socks, £198.99, raynauds disease.com
CLAIM: Made with special fibres that heat up — powered by a lithium re-chargeable battery which attaches to each sock — these will keep your feet warm for up to 16 hours.
They claim to help with Raynaud’s — a condition where a drop in temperature causes blood vessels in the extremities, such as the fingers and toes, to contract, cutting off blood supply and causing numbness and pain.
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘Patients with Raynaud’s need very warm gloves and socks,’ says Professor Ariane Herrick, an honorary consultant rheumatologist at Salford Royal NHS Trust.
‘These do work for some patients, but whether they are right for everyone is a matter of personal preference. Most patients get by with thermal socks or warm boots.’ 8/10
Made of a gel-filled fabric, they also claim to relieve bunions and sores and straighten toes
Heal skin problems
Medipaq Gel Open Five Toe Socks, £7.89, amazon.co.uk
CLAIM: These look a bit like gloves for the feet with different compartments for each toe, which is said to help heal Athlete’s foot. Made of a gel-filled fabric, they also claim to relieve bunions and sores and straighten toes.
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘I can’t see how these socks will help deal with Athlete’s foot, a common fungal infection,’ says Stuart Metcalfe.
‘It should be treated with over-the-counter anti-fungal sprays or powders, keeping feet dry and letting air circulate around toes when possible.
Putting your feet in a dark, moist, confined environment, which these socks offer, is the reverse of what I would advise. And surgery is the only way to straighten toes.’ 1/10
These socks use a remote control to send tiny electric shocks down the wire and through out the sock
TensCare isock Kit, £51, tenscare.co.uk
CLAIM: A wire at the top of these socks leads to a sticky patch on the shin.
Once activated with a remote control, tiny electric shocks are sent down the wire and throughout the sock, made from a special conductive fabric.
The electrical stimulation is said to improve blood flow, mobility and provide pain relief for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis and general foot pain.
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘The principle is that small electrical pulses directed at nerves around the foot and ankle area will confuse the brain from the feeling of pain,’ says Kumar Kunasingam.
‘The scientific evidence is not robust, but they do work for some patients.’ 5/10
Secrets of an A-lister body – how to get the enviable physiques of the stars
Priyanka Chopra wore a stunning Dior dress, pictured, at one of her wedding receptions after marrying Nick Jonas
This week: Priyanka Chopra’s waist
For one of the many wedding receptions following her marriage to singer Nick Jonas, Priyanka Chopra wore a stunning Dior dress with fitted bodice that accentuated her tiny waist.
The Indian actress has described herself as ‘lazy’ and is no fan of the gym, but works out for an hour several times a week.
She does 15 minutes of running plus body weight exercises such as push ups and lunges.
‘I also do yoga and find it both relaxing and very energising,’ she has said.
WHAT TO TRY: Push-up jumping jacks are fat-blasting and waist-toning.
Start in a raised push-up position, with your legs extended, hands on the floor beneath your shoulders, arms straight and your body weight on the balls of your feet.
Keeping your legs and body in a straight line, jump both legs out to the sides at the same time, then back into the start position. Do not lower your back. Repeat 12 times and do three sets.