Toe Koozies

It was time to get new socks. Mine had been worn for a week, and had reached their pull date. Groping in the bag of socks, I pulled out a pair of women’s (small) ankle socks by mistake. Not wanting to fold them up and put them back, I decided to just try them on – maybe they would stretch. They covered my toes, but only reached just past the ball of my foot. I quickly concluded, “This will not work.”

But that was based on my experience on Earth. It occurred to me that up here, you use your feet differently. In zero-g, you hook your feet under “handrails,” thus shifting the load from the bottom to the top of the foot, just behind the toe knuckle. After about two months in orbit your feet molt, and like some reptilian creature the callused skin on the bottom of your foot sheds, leaving soft pink flesh in its place. In the weightless environment, calluses apparently have no use, at least on the bottoms of your feet. However, the tops of your feet become red-rubbed raw and gnarly. And the bottom calluses shed faster than the top calluses can grow. Perpetually raw and hypersensitive, your foot tops can use a bit of padding to ease the pain.

Serendipitously, I discovered that these short socks provide the necessary protection for toes and toe tops while leaving your heels out where they can breathe. They are the zero-gravity equivalent to flip-flops. The more that I wore them, the more I liked them. I have dubbed this new space fashion “toe koozies” – they are perfect for lounging around in a Node or the Cupola.

Don’s blog also appears at airspacemag.com.

18 thoughts on “Toe Koozies”

  1. As a sock-knitter it occurs to me that custom socks for ISS use could be knitted fairly easily to offer more padding for those areas that get the most use. Wool might be problem, with static electricity (or not–depends) but other soft yarns could be worked into whatever foot covering suited the individual. The excess flap in front (shown in the photograph) could be reduced (thus less chance of accidentally pulling a toe-koozie off) and those who would prefer to cover more of the foot could opt for more complete coverage. If toe warmth isn’t an issue, a simple ribbed band could fit easily around the important area–something like a knitted headband. Ribbing would supply the elasticity necessary to keep them on.

  2. Clonation is not logical cause the sequence or cycle is not logical by our eyes but mathematical yes cause the existence of our galaxy

    If you are at best after a rehabilitation better than ever you have not use good sportive way of rehabilitation you must be done an anormal conduction

  3. Don,
    Congratulations on reaching high and making it. Back when I was a substitute teacher at SHS and you were a student aid in science class I remember our conversations about your goal of going to space. I said at that time I knew you would be able to to it! Not only have you gone to space you have become a wonderful space teacher to the world. I enjoy your blogs very much.
    I was looking forward to seeing you at the school board convention in PDX a few years ago but you had to cancel. Maybe I can catch you at some other event when you get back to earth.
    Jon Sheldahl

  4. Thank you so much for your perpetually entertaining, insightful and educational comments. Our family looks forward to your discoveries, scientific or otherwise.

  5. Toe Koozies!!!!!!
    Hurry, call
    U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
    Safe return (: >)
    CBR

  6. Hi,Dragon so ‘Sit there count your fingers..I know how you feel…but I feel it,s time…waether is not so nice here,Something is coming…
    -Please,control this part of Eu!Thenk Y
    “Riders on the storm”-YOU ARE the BEST,I believe in you
    from:
    Skopje,Macedonia

  7. With any luck, the fasion industry here on ol’ terra firma will pick up on this trend 🙂
    I did something similar with my wife’s socks once.. (I just woke up, it was still dark out, and I hadn’t turned the lights on). But I certainly never thought about just leaving them on instead of finding a pair of my own socks 🙂

    One of my favorites parts of your blog are these insights into zero-g life (trash management, cosmic rays “flashing” in your vision, the drawbacks to using your feet in a new way..)..the little things that we Earthers never have to consider. It’s really quite fascinating 🙂 So, thank you 🙂

  8. Don U make science and space so fun. From zero-g coffee cups to ur latest invention, the toe koozie, what will u think of next?

  9. Don, I hold a patent on Augmented Prehensile Extrusion (APE) Shoes for Microgravity. They augment the foot to allow prehensile grasping, holding, and manipulating actions with the toes. You once proposed in a video blog that a three-axis gyroscopic spin stabilization device might be used to act as a “third hand.” This footwear solves these problems, reducing or removing stress and injury to the top of the foot, while also fulfilling the need for additional “hands.” The addition of a sixth “finger” positioned on the ball of the foot creates an artificial opposing thumb for the other five toes. There’s no need for magnets, velcro or electrical power.

  10. I invented shoes for microgravity that allow you to grab those rungs like a primate would. They have an artificial opposable digit on the ball of the foot. No more bruised feet!

  11. Don, you’ve just given me an idea:
    Where I live, it is quite warm now and when I watch tv I like to be sat on my coach in a sitting position of “a yoga cross leg”. Now, I do not wear socks, it is to warm. As I have a verruca in both feet and I do not want my feet touch other parts of my body I’m gonna to cut my socks in order to cover this area. Thanks!

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