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As someone who walks a few miles a day and wears her fair share of narrow-footed and heeled shoes for the sake of fashion, I’m no stranger to foot pain. Plus, I’ve just started running more regularly at the gym, and the few lingering injuries I have from my soccer-playing days of yesteryear have been flaring up. So, when I was first introduced to foot alignment socks — also known as “toe spreader” socks — I was intrigued, if a little skeptical.

Claiming to be a surgical-free option to relieve overall foot pain and bunion, hammer toe and plantar fasciitis issues — the latter which I’ve occasionally dealt with since I sprained it on my left foot a few years back — the Original Foot Alignment My-Happy Feet Socks work to spread the toes apart, also counteracting the constriction of most closed-toe shoes.

The socks, which separate the toes to get them back to proper alignment, also minimize the effects of foot stress, whether it be caused by injuries or shoe confinement.

“It is important to understand that toe spreader socks help realign hammered toes and bunions temporarily,” says Dr. Nelya Lobkova, surgical podiatrist and founder of Step Up Footcare based in New York City. “However, although they cannot change the foot structure or bony alignment associated with these conditions, they can slow down the worsening progression of bunions and hammer toes.”

After a week of use, I’ve found that even if I don’t have outright pain that I’m trying to alleviate every time I put the socks on, they are still useful for stretching, whether it be after a long day of wearing pointed-toe shoes or running on the treadmill. More than a week is definitely necessary to feel more substantial results, but I was quickly reassured that they were worth the investment long term after getting more input from Lobkova.

“The best time to use toe spreader socks is after a workout, especially cardio workout, when the tendons and muscles are warmed up and the tendons have the ability to lengthen more easily when they are stretched,” she explains. “The advantage of lengthening tendons in our feet and ankles is to keep our body’s musculature active, healthy and injury-free in the future.”

How I found the My-Happy Feet socks

Like most things I buy these days, these were first introduced to me via TikTok. As I was scrolling through my For You Page, I came across wellness content creator Kayli Breanne’s now viral video about the My-Happy Feet socks, which she spotted on model Ashley Graham in a now removed Instagram post after this year’s Oscars.

“I love when hot people are also smart,” the TikToker says, adding that she wears the same brand as Graham. She also plugs another video on her page, where she expands on how the shape of poor-fitting shoes are “ruining our feet” and changing their shape. Needless to say, I was sufficiently influenced — I even nabbed the cute blue color Graham’s wearing in the post — and if that didn’t fully convince me, their 4.8-star rating did the trick.

Why they’re a score

In addition to the aforementioned reliefs, Lobkova also says that another benefit of foot alignment socks is the prevention and treatment of pain in the ball of the foot caused by a neuroma or nerve compression in the ball of the foot. “Toe spreader socks help to stretch out the ligament in this space, thus helping to decompress the impinged nerve root and diminish pain and numbness associated with it,” she says.

Plus, she adds that they stretch the little muscles inside the foot that are hard to stretch any other way, since they only attach to bones in the feet. This helps with arch tightness, which happens when foot muscles aren’t moved enough. “In fact, most of the modern western world have tight calves and tight arches due to generation after generation of sitting at a desk most of the time,” Lobkova explains.

For optimal results, she recommends wearing the socks 20 minutes per day and slowly working up to a few hours at a time; however, make sure to wear them only when you’re not walking or standing. I found putting the My-Happy Feet socks on an incredibly easy step to add to my routine right before bed. They were especially soothing after a long night out in some less-than-comfortable boots, I discovered — even just a few minutes of wear helped work out some of the cramps in my feet.

Though they aren’t made from the softest material in the world, the socks are comfortable and they fit well — they’re true to size, with stretchable sizes ranging from small to extra large. Honestly, I almost forgot I was wearing them at times, though it’s possible to feel some discomfort at first as you get used to them. With how easy they are to incorporate into your daily routine and the numerous pain relief benefits, $24 (or as low as $10 on Amazon right now) is more than a reasonable price, no matter if you’re looking to stretch your toes after a run or counteract the effects of tight shoes.