(Editor's note: if you're here for our top recommendation for the best Barre socks and don't have time to read the full article, just click here to shop hipSwan's Flow gripper socks now)
Barre workouts have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their low-impact, high-intensity nature. These workouts require a lot of balance and control and, for that reason, having the right gear can make all the difference.
One essential piece of kit for barre workouts is gripper socks. These socks are specifically designed to provide extra grip and traction to prevent slipping on the studio's slippery floors.
However, not all gripper socks are created equal, and choosing the right pair can be overwhelming. In this article, we'll provide you with five essential tips to help you choose the best barre gripper socks for your needs.
Tip #1: Choose an anatomical design to provide additional support and alignment for your feet
Given the association between barre and ballet, "ballerina style" socks with criss-cross straps are a fashionable and popular design.
However, they offer less protection against slippage and the straps are prone to ripping since they are separate elasticised strips stitched to the main body of the sock.
In the words of Katherine: "[I] quickly realised why everyone in my barre class was wearing true socks (more like a trainer sock) than this ballerina shoe style: these fall off fast. The top elastic just is not strong enough to keep it on your foot when you are moving or pressing your feet into the floor."
A better design: closed, full foot coverage
Tip #2: Choose sole grippers that cover the sole and heel, BUT NOT the toes
The grip material and placement can vary between brands. Look for socks with silicone or PVC grips placed strategically on the sole and heel for maximum traction.
Whilst it may seem preferable to choose a barre sock design with grips that go all the way to the tips of your toes, this would actually hinder some gliding movements, where you don't want traction at your toes.
In the words of barre instructor Georgina Rose (@barrebeautiful_brighton) upon trying hipSwan's Flow gripper socks for barre: "...the perfect amount of grip on the bottom to stop you slipping BUT the grip wasn’t too high up onto the toes, so I could still could still easily perform all gliding movements."
Tip #3: Look for internal heel grippers that will help keep the socks from slipping down
One of the consistent complaints about barre socks is that they tend to slip or misalign during challenging poses. As Corinne states: "My biggest issue is that the back tends to fall down and doesn't stay up on my heel."
To combat this risk, look for internal silicone heel grippers. This is rare in gripper socks -- it's more common with quality no-show socks. It gives you an extra layer of protection against the socks slipping down at the heel.
Tip #4: Choose the right size and a style with arch compression for a snugger fit
Barre balance poses or high-impact movements highlight the importance of properly-fitting barre socks. They reduce your risk of injury by providing a stable base and preventing slips and slides. Choose sock brands that offer a range of sizes, as 'one size fits most' is a long way from 'one size fits all'.
Another element of achieving a snug fit is a compression band around the arch. This isn't a standard feature of gripper socks but it's a mark of thoughtful design. An arch compression band adds to the support and stability that the socks provide during your barre exercises.
With a better, snugger fit, you'll be able to engage your muscles more effectively, which can lead to better results.
Tip #5: Look for extra cushioning that will enhance comfort on hard or cold floors
Finally, another common complaint with many barre sock designs is that they are too thin, which leads to discomfort on hard or cold floors. To some extent, this is a personal preference, as some people prefer greater sensory contact with the floor. But for those who opt for comfort, there are sock designs which feature additional terry cushioning at the heels and throughout the soles, especially at the points where your feet come into contact with the floor.
A better design: terry cushioned heels and soles
Summary - top 5 tips for choosing the best barre socks
- Anatomical design to foster additional support and alignment for your feet
- Sole grippers that cover the sole and heel, BUT NOT the toes, to facilitate gliding motions
- Internal heel grippers to help keep the socks from slipping down
- Correct size and arch compression for a snugger fit
- Extra cushioning at the heels and soles to enhance comfort on hard or cold floors
So, where do I find these ideal barre gripper socks?
Funny you should ask 😉
Here at hipSwan UK, our "Flow" gripper socks are a favourite amongst barre practitioners. Not only do they offer the key features outlined above, but they are made with the softest organic combed cotton, come in 3 sizes, and ship across the UK in 2 business days.click here to shop our barre gripper socks 👉
(bonus tip #6: you can save 10% on your first order of hipSwan socks when you sign up for our email newsletter)