So here's the issue: I love kickboxing, but I absolutely detest being barefoot. I hardly ever walk barefoot around my own (clean) home, let alone the (relatively dirty) mats at a gym.

That's probably not normal, I get it, but having my feet look like this disgusts me immensely. 🤮

I'm trying to just "get over it" but it's not working. I refuse to let this issue discourage me from training kick-boxing.

Are there any footwear options available that could help mitigate this issue?

Such footwear would have to be:

  1. Soft enough on the top so as to be safe for light kicks against a partner during training.
  2. Soft enough on the bottom so as to not damage the mats.
  3. Be grippy enough to prevent slipping.

Socks seem like they address #1 and #2, but I suspect they'll slip and fail on #3. Perhaps there's something like a rubber-soled sock? A sock that's just the minimal amount of fabric necessary to attach the thinnest possible rubber sole.


5 Answers 5


For kickboxing, the main concern is that you don't want the shoe to be used to hit the other person. It can make the impact stronger and can really do damage. So it's usually forbidden, during sparring at least.

During normal gym activity (not sparring), it might be okay to wear shoes. I recommend wrestling shoes, because they stay on tight, aren't bulky, and allow for flexing the ankle.

A second possibility is to use Vibram 5 Fingers shoes. These are about as skin-tight and lightweight as you can get. They're grippy, and they don't cushion your feet at all. But you have to find the right size for you.

Another possibility is something like this:


It's a stick-on sole that you attach to the bottom of your foot. Neat, but you have to test it to see if it comes off easily. And you might find that it doesn't stick well after the first time you wear it.

As for things like arch support wraps, if you use those, you should look into coating the bottom with something like Plastidip. That will keep you from slipping.

All of this depends on your gym's policies. Usually being barefoot is required for safety reasons. But that doesn't mean you have to walk on dirty floors. If you think your gym floors are overly dirty, maybe you can nudge your gym's owner into cleaning them better and more frequently. Enforcing a strict policy of not allowing shoes that were worn outside on the gym floor will also help (so you must take off your normal shoes at the entrance to the gym).

Hope that helps.

  • They do clean the floor every night, so I don't think it's exceptionally dirty for what it is. But dust, hair, sweat accumulates, and that's just how it goes. I asked about wrestling shoes, but they weren't okay with them. That's a cool use for plasticdip!
    – Alexander
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 17:12
  • The Vibran manufacturers were sued for making false claims. I wore these shoes for more than a year resulting in weak ankles. Don't use them! Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 6:42

I infer from your tone that you consider this repulsion towards dirt slightly irrational, but are unable to overcome it. If that is indeed true, you may like to try these minimalistic options, which I have adopted from barefoot running considering the similar spread of foot:

  1. Elastic bandage
  2. Crepe bandage
  3. Duct tape

They are cheap, no-frills and easily replaceable. I believe these may also serve as a gateway to make you comfortable with the ground.

If they don't work out, the shoe suggestions by Daniel Reiss and Collett89 seem great!


If you go to a trampoline park in the UK you have to wear "grip socks" - a sock with little rubber grips embedded in them. Searching on sites such as Amazon for "grip socks" they are readily available in a variety of colours/sizes.

I have in my classes allowed students with foot injuries to train in these socks to protect plasters/bandaging and give a little more support - I would not usually expect someone to wear them full time though. Check with your instructors if they are happy with you wearing them before spending any money.

On safety - The amount of grip offered by these socks will be different to being barefoot, this may mean you slip when others don't or that you find your feet "sticking" when trying to rotate them on the mats both of these options increase your risk of injury (failing to twist your foot on the floor means that twist happens elsewhere in your leg - ankle/knee/hip - any of these can be a long time out)


Even if you wear some kind of socks they're going to absorb sweat & grime.

Personally, I clean my feet (& entire body) thoroughly, using a bristles brush and scrub with pumice. I've found that preventing callus buildup between the toes to be crucial to preventing athelete's foot (a hot soak to soften up the hard tissue will help when removing it, I like to add epson salts and apple-cider vinegar to my foot-soaks). I also use foot lotion, to prevent dry skin. Clotrimazole cream between my toes & behind my ears to prevent athlete's foot / yeast infection.

The same goes for the rest of your body. I've found that using a strong anti-dandruff shampoo (containing ketoconazole) mixed in with my normal bodywash is a great antifungal and helps fight ringwork. & as an antimicrobial, I use a salicylic acid acne-treatment bodywash. I figure between the two they do what any brand of fighers'/defense soap would do. You don't want to wash these down the drain. Turn the shower off, lather up & let them soak in for a minute, then rinse.

This may all seem a tad extreme, but keeping your skin healthy is important.


I use sambo-shoes which are made for use on mats. They are pretty much the only type of shoe that is allowed in the place I train.

They are soft and therefore OK for kicks like sidekicks.

The only problem for kickboxing may be that headkicks are not a good idea, because of the shoestrings; this can be overcome by using foot protection such as a large shin pad, which not only covers the shin, but also the top of the foot (and therefore also the shoestrings).

I recommend putting the shoestrings into the shoe and then covering up the top with extra protection from a shin pad.

In any case, talk to your instructor first and ask for their advice and/or permission.

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