A proper yoga pose typically requires concentration, balance and careful body control. And nothing throws these off more quickly than a lack of traction. Sure, a good yoga mat can keep you from slip-slidin' away during most moves. But some people, especially beginners, can use a little added security, especially when feet get sweaty.
Yoga Stick-e socks are an ankle-high, toeless sock with a tacky rubber material on the ball of the foot, the lateral side and the heel (i.e. the sole except the arch area) that effectively grips surfaces such as the rubber on a mat, carpet or the type of wood floor found in exercise studios. The socks also allow you to perform moves without a mat, which can be useful if you travel or find yourself practicing yoga at home without a mat, and it can be used for other endeavors such as martial arts, dance, Pilates or even on wooden decks of boats.
We asked several testers to try the socks at home and at a yoga class, and we also had a few members of the class and the instructor of one tester try them as well. The socks proved to have certain advantages, but testers noticed limitations as well.
First, a few basics: The socks are made with 85-percent rayon and bamboo fiber, 13-percent polyester and 2-percent spandex. The bamboo fibers have antimicrobial properties that help reduce odor and keep feet healthy. Odor was not an issue with the socks we tested, but we admit that our women testers preferred to wash them rather than allowing them to become a Petri dish. In the past, the SNEWS® team has tested other bamboo-based products that substantiated antimicrobial claims. The socks are machine washable and dryer safe, and the pair we tested held up well after repeated washings.
In general, Stick-e socks feel like soft cotton with generous stretch, while a narrow, elastic area with spandex wraps the arch and top of the foot to keep sock fitted securely. Available in beige and black colors, the socks come in small, medium and large sizes. The size medium socks we tested actually fit well on women with small and medium-sized feet, though they fit best on the medium-sized women, so the sizing seems pretty true. And each person said the socks were generally comfortable.
One tricky part of the sock design concerns the toe area. Stick-e socks do not cover the entire front of the foot, but rather have small openings for each toe, leaving the end of the toe (an the skin) exposed for toe grip. The good thing is that this frees the toes to splay out somewhat and provide added balance. But there’s an issue. When doing yoga moves that required out testers to lean forward, the socks stayed in place, while the foot moved within the sock. Our testers noted that fabric pulled on the spaces between the toes to the point that it was a distraction. Though our testers benefited from the extra traction, they were bothered by the tugging action.
The instructor who tried the socks noted another issue. She said that a bare foot allows a more sound foundation, in part because it allows closer contact with whatever surface you're using. The sock is a barrier that diminishes the connection to the ground, and therefore undermines that solid foundation.
Now, that's what they say and it's true, but the reality is, a lot of people -- especially those in health clubs where the studios are multi-functional -- like a barrier from what sometimes is considered a less than sanitary situation. Stick-e socks have other advantages too over bare feet in certain situations. Our testers appreciated that the socks helped when lying on the floor and walking their feet up a wall. And another tester who tends to get cold feet rather liked a bit of protection and warmth while not losing grip. Stick-e socks can therefore also provide some peace of mind.
Also, there was general agreement that the socks would make a great piece of travel gear, allowing people to practice yoga on the road without hauling along a mat.
This product isn't for everyone, and we suspect that advanced yoga practitioners may be annoyed by the design imperfections and diminished contact between feet and a mat or the floor. But beginners and traveling yogis might benefit by knowing that they won't slip, and can therefore concentrate on other fundamentals of a proper pose.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.0 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $19.95
For more information:www.yogastickysocks.com