Ever wonder why bodybuilders are so often seen – while in the midst of hoisting vein-popping amounts of weight – wearing footwear more befitting of an indie rock concert than a serious gym sesh? It’s not that they love the aesthetics of Chuck Taylors so much as they’re the type of shoe that gets their feet the closest to the ground.

“Think of this as if you wore gloves on your hands your whole life.”

And that’s critical to flawless form, which is paramount when such heavy loads are involved, explains Mike Lyon of new Boston-based footwear startup Pedestal Footwear.

“Barefoot training has always had this hippy vibe to it despite being extremely beneficial. We are on a mission to change that thinking and get athletes of all ages and abilities out of the crutch of traditional training shoes,” Lyon told me. “We recognize that the feet are the most neglected part of the training regimen yet are the most vital since they are the only part of the body that touches the floor and are related to movement in the rest of the body.”

Lyon and co-founder Brendan McKee aren’t in the athletic shoe business. They’re in the athletic sock business.

Walk into any gym where serious lifting is going down and you’re bound to see some diehard souls dead-lifting in socks. The science here makes sense: Many athletic shoes with cushier soles elevate the heel too far above the toe, thus pitching the wearer forward and affecting their center of balance and negatively impacting proprioception, or the body’s ability to sense where it is in space.

McKee, left, and Lyon.

Rather than come up with a zero-drop shoe – a category flooded with contenders vying for the weightlifting, CrossFit and adventure racing audiences – Pedestal brings its focus even further down to earth.

The socks come in two colors, green and red, and three varieties: low, quarter and mid-calf. They feature rubber traction on the bottom as well as abrasion-resistant toes and heels that allow for training on a variety of surfaces. A silver treatment kills bacteria and smell, so you only need to wash them every five workouts or so.

“Our feet have essentially been in casts in the form of shoes our whole lives and even just by freeing your feet for a couple hours a day, you will experience a dramatic improvement in how your feet feel and function and the benefits subsequently work their way up the entire kinetic chain of our bodies,” said Lyon. “Think of this as if you wore gloves on your hands your whole life … what would that do to your sense of feeling and strength in your hands and wrists?”

The socks aren’t just designed for weightlifting, either. Lyon said they’ve received interest from a wide array of athletes and coaches from all different types of sports.

“They are really designed for improving overall athletic performance and movement patterns,” he said.

Check out some more images and a video, below:

This is Pedestal Footwear. from Pedestal Footwear on Vimeo.