Stable 26, based out of Ontario, Canada, designs socks designed for a variety of sports, including running, hockey, and golf. They asked THP to sample their golf socks and I’ve been wearing them exclusively for the last few weeks. Before we get to my thoughts, here is some information on the company and what they have to offer.
About Stable 26
Dr. Daryl Sherman, a chiropractic doctor who has extensive experience treating athletes, is the primary driving force behind Stable 26. With a long history of footgear fitting for ski boots, skates, and shoes as well as orthotics, Daryl understands how poorly most footwear fits. Manufacturers are forced to create sizes based on the shape of the “average foot.” Unfortunately, no one’s foot is exactly average. Due to ill-fitting footwear, the foot is not connected to the footwear. Daryl, along with an interdisciplinary team of experts, invented Stable 26 footgear to bridge the gap – and allow the shoe, boot, or skate to do what it is designed to do.
The Stable 26 Approach
Stable 26 footgear allows you to make even your best-fitting athletic footwear fit even better. Offering an entirely new approach to attaining the perfect fit, Stable 26 footgear uses silicone pads in anatomically targeted locations to provide improved support and an enhanced connection between your foot and your footwear.
Why does fit matter so much?
When the fit is not perfect (and it almost never is), there are small gaps where your foot is not adequately connected to your footwear. These gaps are called “negative space.” Stable 26 footgear eliminates negative space, allowing the shoe, boot, or skate to work as intended without loss of momentum or power.
The rearfoot, specifically the subtalar joint, plays a key role in the function of the foot, knee, hips, and pelvis. In almost all activities, your body movements begin with, and are controlled by, the movements of your rearfoot – whether you realize it or not.
There are no “standard” foot sizes
Factory sizing assumes that everyone whose feet are the same length and forefeet are the same width will also have the same size of rearfoot. Footwear companies cannot possibly make enough combinations and sizes to create an ideal fit for most users. The best you can hope for is close enough.
That’s why, when sizing footwear, most attention typically goes to the length of the foot and the width of the forefoot. Frequently neglected during a fitting is the heel and what happens at the rearfoot, even though the relative size and function of the rearfoot can differ dramatically from person to person.
Stable 26 focuses on the heel
Because the rearfoot controls the mid- and forefoot and the relative positioning of the leg above it, Stable 26 footgear for all sports include medial and lateral silicone pads to help you attain the perfect fit at the rearfoot.
How they are Different
My assumption that I’d be reviewing a basic performance material sock was quite incorrect. Stable 26 takes that proven concept and adds a new element – customized inserts to help you obtain a perfect fit between your foot, sock, and shoe. Each pair of socks comes with three sets of silicon pads for custom fitting. Their supposition is that (much like golf clubs) companies produce shoes that fit the masses, but the reality is that they don’t fit most people as good as they could (again, very similar to golf clubs). By allowing a customized fit, golfers should be able to avoid injury, foot pain, and ensure maximum performance.
On top of that interesting concept, Stable 26 offers some other benefits that normal socks don’t, including:
- Elastic arch support
- Breathable ergonomic nylon
- Anatomical mesh zone to maximize ventilation
- Hand linked seamless toe to reduce friction
- Elastic holding rib keeps cuff firmly in place
There are two colors available (black and white), along with a variety of sizes that should accommodate everyone from children up to those with larger feet. The only shortcoming I saw in terms of available options was related to the cuff heights. The two choices are Mini Crew and Quarter Crew. Some of you may notice an absence of a ‘no-show’ option. That is a look I tend to prefer as well and hopefully Stable 26 will find a way to incorporate that into their line. With the Mini Crew, the cuff was noticeably above my ankle, so I folded it over once to bring it more in line with a typical ankle sock. I found the comfort of the sock made this a very reasonable compromise. One important note about the cuff is that it didn’t move at all while wearing it.
Getting the Right Fit
The Stable 26 Golf Sock is different than anything else that I’ve seen in that it goes beyond the typical fitting by size range. In fact, the fitting process is pretty detailed and could take a few tries before you get it right. They’ve compiled an easy to follow set of steps that is worth checking out. I’d definitely recommend experimenting a bit. It’s not difficult to switch out the silicone pads and since you’re probably not sure what a perfect fit feels like to begin with, a little trial and error will likely help you get there. To take that even further, your shoe may stretch over time, necessitating a change in the silicon pads you insert. Or if you’re like me, you may have different shoes that fit differently.
The most important note I took away from reading through the fitting material was that your shoe should immediately feel more comfortable. If there’s any inkling of discomfort, you should try out a different combination of pads.
Out on the Course
I didn’t realize my shoes could fit as nicely as they do with the Stable 26 socks on. I had a chance to wear them with my ‘old-reliable’ shoes and a brand new pair that I happened to be breaking in when the socks arrived.
The new pair of shoes is the one I was most worried about. As a pair of traditional soft spikes, they are a little tighter fitting than my very loose spikeless shoes, especially on top of the foot and in the toe area. My worry was that adding more bulk (via the silicon pads) would make them harder to get on and uncomfortable. My experience was the complete opposite of that. What the socks did was firm up the feeling in the heel area, making the shoe feel very much like an extension of my entire foot, as opposed to something that moves with every step. At the same time, the areas that I was worried about (top of foot and toe box) were not affected. It’s hard to explain, but the rear of my foot felt very secure, which led to a solid feeling in the rest of the shoe.
The ultimate test of comfort for me comes by walking a round of golf. I took a gamble by wearing the newer shoes for a round where I carried my bag and came away with zero foot pain, which really surprised me. I moved away from spiked shoes for comfort at the expense of traction, so having a pair that I can wear without foot pain while walking is a huge benefit. Can I definitively say the Stable 26 sock was the reason I was able to play pain-free the first time I walked the course with these shoes? Absolutely not, but I can say that there was a noticeable difference in how the shoes felt on my feet with them on.
I’ve never had issues with foot sweat or arch support, so I can’t say I noticed a huge difference there while wearing the Stable 26’s. The material is definitely different than traditional cotton – somewhat softer and plusher and it makes for a more luxurious feel than a typical sock.
The bottom line is that I’m hooked. I’ve worn the Stable 26 socks for every practice session and round of golf since they arrived in the mail. With only one pair in my possession, I’ve found myself making an effort to wash them specifically for my next trip out. Though I’d love to see a version with a shorter cuff, the method of folding it over made it a non-issue, especially when considering the benefits. Stable 26 footgear is available for sale on through the company’s website, www.stable26.com, for around $25. It’s certainly not an inexpensive price for a sock, but the ability to tailor a possibly ill-fitting shoe (or even improve a decent fitting one) could make that worth the price to many people.