What Is Stable 26 Footwear?
Claiming to be a solution for professional athletes and weekend warriors alike, Stable 26 Footwear offers various models of athletic socks that feature silicone inserts on the left and right (medial and lateral) sides of the ankles.
The makers of the product state that the 26 bones in our feet take a beating each and every day, and that improper shoe size can serve to worsen this issue by allowing dangerous space between the material and your skin.
Stable 26 socks are supposed to fill in this gap with the silicone inserts, allowing you greater stability when exercising, playing sports like hockey and basketball, or simply running errands around town.
But is there clinical evidence to support these claims? Or, is Stable 26 providing a solution to a nonexistent problem? Here, we’ll discuss what we learned during our research.
A Science-Based Look at Ankle Shoe Space
We’re told that the Stable 26 is clinically proven to protect and relieve soreness, with the company stating that the socks have been shown to improve runner stability, as well as overall performance as a result.
However, on the product’s website, we aren’t shown the data from this clinical study, nor who carried it out or when. We also aren’t told what methodology was used, or whether or not it was peer-reviewed. When we reached out to customer support, we were told that they did not have this information on hand.
Looking at the problem from a more personal perspective, however, most of us have experienced the discomfort that can come along with shoes that just don’t fit quite right. If they are too big, you can often expect to experience blisters and raw skin due to the friction created from the excess movement inside the shoe.
Examining the product purely from this vantage point, we can see how the silicone inlays might indeed “tighten” the area around where the foot rests, reducing this movement (and the problems it can create) in the process.
Still, we haven’t tested the shoes ourselves, and without doing so, there’s no way to know for certain that this is the case. We reached out to Dr. Alice Holland, PT, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Director of Stride Strong Physical Therapy in Portland, Oregon, and she had this to say about the product:
“It would provide some stability by reducing the empty space between a shoe and the talocrural joint. I can see that in ill-fitted shoes, where there is excessive ankle space, this product can help in bridging that gap of stability.”
As for the claim that the product can support all 26 bones in the foot, however, Holland was less optimistic. “The foot has a lot of ligamentous structure on the top and bottom of the foot, and has a complex system of ligaments, tendons and muscles that also offer stability through several arches of the foot. Though Stable 26 might help the more proximal aspects (the talocrural joint) of the ankle and foot, it by no means offer structural integrity for the entire foot.”
In layman’s terms? You’ll want to keep the above statements in mind if you are looking for a product to support and relieve pain from your entire foot, as suggested by the manufacturer.
Stable 26 Footwear Pricing & Returns
Stable 26 is available in its ankle-height form directly from the manufacturer. It can also be found on markets such as Amazon.com in a variety of different permutations, from hockey-centric socks to those made specifically for golfers.
Through the manufacturer, the base product will run you $19.99 plus $4.99 for shipping and handling. You have the option to choose between two sizes; a small/medium (Men's 5-9, Women's 6-10) and a large size (Men’s 9-12, Women's 10-13).
You can also choose between white and black colorways, as well as a low cut or high cut, depending upon your preference and needs.
For returns, the company offers a 90-day money back guarantee, less any processing and handling fees. To process your return, you’ll need to reach out to customer support at 1866-595-9224 between 8:00AM - 8:00PM EST.
What Are Customers Saying About Stable 26?
Looking around online, found a number of different customer reviews on various personal blogs, as well as on Amazon. A few complaints stuck out to us immediately, with the most common stemming from the elasticity in the socks wearing out prematurely.
It also looks like this creates another reported problem with the silicone inserts themselves; many reviewers who complained about shrinkage stated that the pads no longer sat where they needed to, once the socks had shrank down a bit.
Are There Any Good Stable 26 Alternatives?
On the surface, the concept of socks with stabilizing silicone inserts seems like a novel one, from our consumer-focused perspective at least. Still, a quick Google search for “stabilizing socks” brings up multiple different results, some of which seemed functionally similar to Stable 26.
But many of these products tended to be more like wraps for the ankle, providing overall stability, instead of attempting to make a particular shoe fit better on the wearer's foot. We also found several different “ankle inserts.”
Put simply, if you feel that your ankle pain is largely due to an improper fit with your shoes, Stable 26 might indeed be a good solution for you. This silicone inserts could possibly eliminate the empty space in the ankle area of the shoe, hopefully alleviating some or all of your pain in the process.
On the other side of the coin, however, if you are mainly concerned with giving your ankle more rigidity and support, a dedicated, heavy duty wrap might be a better bet. Many of the wrap-based products we came across on Amazon enjoyed hundreds of positive customer reviews, some of which praised these supports for easing pain and maximizing performance.
What’s more, the majority of these support socks seemed to cost right around the same range as Stable 26’s products, with many options sitting right at the $19.99 price point.
In general, we’d recommend talking with your doctor about your specific needs first. No one is more qualified to help you than a trained medical professional who is familiar with your needs, so don’t hesitate to reach out as you begin the process of finding the right product for you.
The Final Verdict on Stable 26
Stable 26 seems to be a fairly unique product, all told. The silicone insert pads are a novel ideal, and based on the concept proposed by the manufacturer, we can certainly imagine how they might increase the stability of your ankle in general, if wearing them with shoes that are too big.
With that said, we aren’t shown any of the scientific data that the company claims to have, nor are we shown any conclusive evidence that the socks will protect all 26 bones your feet and relieve soreness, as the manufacturer asserts.
As mentioned above by Doctor of Physical Therapy Alice Holland, if your shoes do not fit properly in the first place, Stable 26 could potentially provide some stability in the ankle area by “filling in” that space. But, this highly depends upon the size of the shoe, its shape, and other factors such as your body weight and the shape of your foot.
Additionally, although the manufacturer claims that the product is used by hundreds of professional athletes, we aren’t told who these individuals are, or if they officially endorse the product itself. Again, customer service had no information here to clarify.
If you should decide to give Stable 26 a try, be sure and keep the 90-day return policy in mind going into the purchase.
As always, we recommend speaking with a professional who might be able to help you make the best decision not only for the moment, but also for the long term based on your lifestyle, physical condition, and budget.