Cold Feet
March 1, 2010 3:00 AM   Subscribe

I have cold feet. Literally.

Due to circulatory issues and neuropathy, I have chronically painful cold feet. This winter has been particularly bad. I need to find some sort of foot warming solution, an thought I'd ask the hive mind while I'm at it: What do you do? Do you have favorite footwear? Some mysterious socks that work well?

I have a mental image of some sort of soft furry Mukluk overshoe that seems like it would be nice and warm, but I don't know where to find such a thing, if it exists at all. Anyone know of something like that?
posted by pjern to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (27 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Are you looking for something to wear around the house? At work? In transit?
posted by miss tea at 3:24 AM on March 1, 2010

Fleece Socks--Lands End and LL Bean used to carry them. After they're washed they fit under most winter shoes OK--Check the ski sale places.
posted by AuntieRuth at 3:45 AM on March 1, 2010

Heated insoles are what my dad swears by. Says they're perfect for walking the dog at five on a winter morning. Poor old dog didn't get a pair though.

These ones look to be pretty high-tech, although there are cheaper options.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 3:45 AM on March 1, 2010

Possum wool socks from New Zealand are apparently a fantastic blend of comfort and warmth.


Possum Wool is a wonderful blend of possum fur and superfine New Zealand Merino wool with a texture similar to cashmere - luxuriously soft, incredibly light weight, exceptionally warm and easy to wear. Once you’ve tried it nothing else will feel as warm and soft.

The possum fur, Merino wool blend is 50% warmer than Merino wool on its own. The possum fibre is hollow which provides incredible warmth without weight. Being scale free, it’s smooth and soft against your skin.
It will not freeze and the only other fibre in the world known to have this same characteristic is polar bear fur! Superfine New Zealand Merino wool is renowned for its fineness, durability and breathable properties.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:46 AM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

How about some sheepskin boots? They're soft and warm and comfy. Easy to get on and off. I have a pair that kept me warm (with added wool socks) even on a visit to Alaska.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:16 AM on March 1, 2010

my mom used to suffer awfully from cold feet (in the house) so I ordered her some Cosysoles microwaveable slippers, which she said helped a lot.
posted by toodleydoodley at 4:49 AM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you have neuropathy, be careful about methods that generate heat as opposed to trapping your body's own. I once got an ambulance call for a man with diabetic neuropathy who fell asleep with his feet on a space heater and got some pretty nasty burns.

That being said, the best winter socks I have ever worn are a pair of Superwarm alpaca socks. Put those inside some shoe-like slippers and they're damn toasty.
posted by skyl1n3 at 5:17 AM on March 1, 2010

The only really warm socks I'm willing to wear are Smartwool. YMMV.
posted by contrarian at 5:22 AM on March 1, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Smartwool ski socks, yes indeedy. Though I don't have neuropathy, I have chronically cold extremities too, and I suggest any socks that are made for winter sports, hunting, snowmobiling, etc. Double-layered socks are fabulous. Try Smartwool or Thorlos. Also (but definitely with skyline's caveat) there are battery-operated socks, as well as chemical warming packets.
posted by scratch at 5:43 AM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

(Incidentally, if you do much walking outside during the winter, the thickness of the shoe sole makes a huge difference. Frinstance, Converse All-Stars turn into glorified flip-flops when the temp goes below about 40 F, whereas Dansko clogs are good until the snow gets higher than the ankle.
posted by scratch at 5:45 AM on March 1, 2010

My mother, rest her soul, had chronically cold feet. It was only after getting femoral popliteal bypass surgery that it got better. The bypass was to deal with increasing problems related to poor blood flow, not just the cold feet. It greatly improved her mobility too. IIRC, it was done when she was in her late 50's.
posted by wkearney99 at 5:47 AM on March 1, 2010

Best answer: Walking around the house, slippers (or shoes) get your feet up and off the floor in a way that socks do not. A lot of heat is lost by contact with the floor, so these are really important.

Fleece is nice, but really any wool socks will go a long way to keeping your feet warm. They're also really good at keeping your feet dry (from rain or puddles or perspiration), which is a big help, too. If they're uncomfortably itchy against your skin, you can always wear thin cotton socks under them (layers always help with warmth), but you'd want to change the cotton socks more than once a day. These days there are also a wide variety of wool blends that aren't as uncomfortable against the skin. Invest in some of them for the winter. After that the key is making sure you have shoes that will fit thicker-socked feet and making sure your socks don't stand out too much (wool socks always seem to be in weird might have to wear thin black or brown or whatever dress socks over them if you care about coordinating).
posted by aswego at 5:54 AM on March 1, 2010

I got a pair of Old Friend slippers for Christmas and love them! I made my hubby go and get some for himself! They are so toasty that sometimes my feet get too warm and I have to take them off for awhile. I don't have any medical problems, I just always have cold hands and feet. These suckers are really amazing. They have a rubber sole, so I wear them out of the house when I'm dropping the kids off at school or running to the Supermarket. I've worn them in some pretty cold temperatures and haven't come close to feeling the cold. They are also incredibly comfortable. I never want to take mine off!

If you do go with these, keep in mind that they will be kind of tight for the first few weeks until you squash down some of the sheepskin. Mine came from the local Sporting Goods Store, and were about $10 less than the price on their website.
posted by TooFewShoes at 6:01 AM on March 1, 2010

A good sock strategy will change your life. Layer up, and banish cotton from being anywhere near your feet. Thin silk socks, then thicker wool socks of high quality, like those sold to serious hikers. I would make a brand recommendation, but I get my wool socks from the Job Lot for $2/pair - these are generally quality brands with small defects (usually pattern or color issues unrelated to construction) re-labeled and sold to frugal New Englanders. Thick, springy, soft - modern wool is awesome. Synthetic fleece might keep you as warm, but introduces problems with chafing, dampness and odor.

With the layering, your feet will be dry and toasty in any weather.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:29 AM on March 1, 2010

Here's a previous thread on this topic; a perhaps pertinent point contained therein is to change socks when you get home — keeping feet dry really helps with keeping them warm. It's helped me, though it doesn't sound like my feet are as cold as yours.
posted by stargazer360 at 6:37 AM on March 1, 2010

I have feet that are always cold, too. I find that if I sleep warm, I tend to have fewer issues with cold the next day. I don't know if it's some kind of temporal momentum or placebo effect or what, but it helps me. To achieve this, I have an electric mattress pad that is cranked up and then I either wear wool socks to bed or microwave one of those long rice-filled sock-like things that are designed for back relief and put that near my feet.

During the day I wear a fresh pair of wool socks, sometimes over a thinner cotton sock, with thick leather shoes over that. I have a space heater at work under my desk to warm my feet. I try my best to get up and move around so that I'm not stationary all day, too. I'm also careful to keep my feet well-maintained with lotion and frequent foot soaks so that the skin doesn't get too dried out.
posted by bristolcat at 6:47 AM on March 1, 2010

I'm not an expert on either of your conditions, but you might want to check with your doc to see if compression stockings would be appropriate for you.

Other than that, I echo what others have suggested about getting some distance between your feet and the floor. If you're talking about something you'd wear inside, LL Bean has some Wicked Good slippers, ayuh.
posted by SteveInMaine at 7:11 AM on March 1, 2010

Best answer: For wearing during the day: silk long underwear bottoms, thin cotton socks under thicker wool socks (controls itchiness of the socks and lets you re-use them day to day).

For bedtime: warm feet in a warm water bath and/or sleep with a heating pad at the feet.

Interestingly, there was just published an article about this very phenomenon: "The curse of cold feet: Why women suffer more than men from icy toes... and what we can do about it" (most helpful information is at bottom).
posted by amtho at 7:16 AM on March 1, 2010

I have the same problem and I've found that Ginger "tea" is really good for warming up cold feet & hands. Just put some slices of fresh ginger root in a cup, pour boiling water over it and drink when it's cooled off a bit. It's quite tasty actually (supposedly it also helps with digestive problems and nausea, but I've never tried that).
posted by The Toad at 7:44 AM on March 1, 2010

Nthing Smartwool. I hardly wear anything else in the winter.

(um, I hardly wear any other brand of socks, that is...)

Also these chemical things have served me very well during winter hikes, etc. (I have fairly mild Reynauld's.)
posted by kestrel251 at 8:42 AM on March 1, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions so far; to amplify a bit:

I work at a desk most nights, and that's when the need becomes most acute. I've considered a space heater, but that doesn't help when I need to go out for a bit or run to the garage.

I'll try to find/order some smartwool socks and see if that helps, I've been using Hanes cotton socks, but apparently that's not going to help.
posted by pjern at 9:23 AM on March 1, 2010

I have terribly terribly cold feet as a symptom of Reynaud's Disease. I tried everything to no avail until I finally went to a doctor and got an Rx for Nefidipine. The only side effect is flushed cheeks, but my freezing cold hands and feet are cured.
posted by Viola at 9:23 AM on March 1, 2010

Best answer: If you have poor circulation, it's really important to move around, even if you have to set a timer on the computer to remind yourself. I have cold feet, and when I had a desktop computer, it sat on the floor, and the warm air from the case fan helped keep my feet warm. In bed, a hot water bottle, with hot tap water, is toasty. Google down bootie for some warm footwear. And the fleece/wool and heated sock recommendations above are all good.

I live in Maine and shop at LL Bean(outlets) and recommend you call them and have a rep talk to you about warm footwear. Their customer service is really good, and someone will take the time to help you find what you need. If you shop locally, go to stores where people shop for sporting goods, and get serious boots with good insulation. Department stores sell fashion, not practicality.
posted by theora55 at 9:59 AM on March 1, 2010

I just found a pair of metallic sock liners I had as a kid - I don't know where they came from, but they definitely do seem to keep my feet warm. Kind of like these.

And call me old-fashioned, but I love a good hot water bottle to keep my feet warm at bedtime! Seems much safer than something you plug in.
posted by beyond_pink at 11:24 AM on March 1, 2010

Best answer: Definitely get a space heater for when you're at your desk!! I got one for work - $15 at Target. Best purchase ever. Yeah, sometimes I have to file, or run downstairs, but it helps so much when I'm sitting!

And I second or third the LL Bean slippers. I have the clogs and they are awesome. I feel they keep the toes toastiest when you wear them without socks.
posted by peep at 11:33 AM on March 1, 2010

I have been wearing the Crocs Mammoth (wool-lined) around the house. They are super ugly, and super squeaky on the wood floors, but keep my feet mostly warm.
posted by getawaysticks at 1:47 PM on March 1, 2010

I get cold feet much less often since I started using the bike at the gym.....still not as often as I should. :-/
posted by brujita at 10:36 PM on March 1, 2010

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