Non-slip socks are a popular product designed to improve traction under foot when wearing footwear. These products can be useful for patients who experience difficulty in navigating uneven or slippery surfaces. However, there is limited evidence about the effectiveness of these products as a fall prevention strategy.
One retrospective study found that falls in a special care unit of a nursing home were reduced by the implementation of a treaded sock intervention in a 102 day period. However, this study was not powered to evaluate falls reduction and the number of participants in the trial was low. Moreover, the authors did not assess how the treaded sock was worn.
The aim of the present two phase study was to test a convenience sample of three brands of commercially available non-slip socks and one brand of compression stocking in a clinical setting using the British Pendulum Friction Test (Wet Pendulum Test) for slip resistance. The test is conducted under wet conditions, and the tester is blinded to the sock or stocking brand and all tags and identifiers are removed.
Testing was performed on a hospital grade vinyl floor, which is typically used in hospital settings. However, it is possible that relative results might differ when tested on other floor materials such as tile or polished concrete, and differences in foot anatomy, biomechanics and skin characteristics are likely to influence the performance of these sock types as well.
Both the non-slip sock and the compression stocking samples demonstrated poor results in this wet pendulum test. This is not expected as the textured surface of the non-slip sock is designed to increase grip when worn with shoes. However, sock fit and alignment is critical to ensure the traction surface is aligned with the sole of the foot. Failure to do this may result in a misaligned surface which is not intended, and could represent a trip hazard for some patients.
This study also tested a convenience sample of socks, and as such it is not feasible to draw conclusions regarding the efficacy of any particular sock type. However, the poor relative performance of the non-slip socks in this test compared to other foot conditions has important implications for safety when mobilising in unfit footwear or bare feet. These findings need to be interpreted in light of previous studies that have associated foot conditions other than well-fitted footwear or bare feet with increased falls risk. Further clinical research is required to determine if the use of non-slip socks can provide an adequate alternative to well-fitted rubber soled footwear or bare feet as a fall prevention strategy. This is particularly important in the context of the fact that patients often wear footwear at home and when out and about. This is a particularly vulnerable population and the use of appropriate fall prevention strategies is important to reduce the risk of injury. custom non-slip socks