Running socks. Hiking socks. Sport-specific socks. Don’t forget compression socks. Oh my! We never thought we’d have to spend more than 30 seconds on making a sock purchase decision. Turns out, the fabric you choose can affect your performance while you’re working on your feet all day, practicing your favorite sport, or training for a marathon. Here are some things to keep in mind the next time you feel the urge to go sock shopping.
The American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine recommends avoiding overly tight or loose-fitting socks. Socks that do not fit correctly may bind the toes, while socks that fit too loosely can lead to harmful wrinkles, capable of pinching the skin and causing blisters. The next time you buy new sneakers, ask to be measured and fitted wearing the specific sock that will be ultimately worn with the footwear.
Cotton socks do not wick moisture away from your feet. They actually absorb sweat, leaving your socks damp and your feet sad. This leads to friction blisters. Not fun when you're 10 miles into a marathon.
According to the AAPSM, cotton fiber retains three times the moisture of acrylic and 14 times the moisture of CoolMax — a fabric made by Dupont that uses four channel polyester fibers that are weaved together in cross sections to allow air to flow through the fabric. When exposed to ambient air, socks composed of cotton retain moisture 10 times longer than acrylic.
Fabrics that are labeled as "dry wick" will absorb sweat from your body, propelling it away from your skin, and then spread it throughout the sock or garment so it can easily vaporize.
Check out the variety CoolMax socks offer from various brands like Timberland.
Compression socks help improve blood flow, which results in better, more consistent performance with less fatigue and faster, more efficient recovery. They can be worn before, during and after a workout or while you are standing or sitting all day at work. Knee-high compression socks also provide support to critical muscles and tendons, helping reduce inflammation and soreness. They are available in a wide range of fun colors, if you don’t mind a splash of color. Zensah.com has a nice variety.