Previous blog dealt with the top ten tips for buying running shoes. So where do socks fit in?
For the sock enthusiasts you may ask yourselves: what sock will be most comfortable, prevent blisters, reduce sweaty foot syndrome and still be fashionable? Lets have a crack at unraveling the mystery.
In my practice, the topic of socks is popular among marathoners, ultra-marathoners, race walkers, hikers and military personnel. The pre-text of this conversation revolves around blisters—how to prevent, manage and cope.
You can buy running socks in many different materials, thicknesses and sizes, yet the most important factor to consider is the material. Exercise socks in the 21st century come in an abundant array of fibres classified in two ways: natural fibres (cotton, wool, bamboo) and synthetics (acrylic, polyester, polypropylene).
In general, I strongly recommend staying away from natural fibres which are great for corporate shoes but not for exercise. Classic cotton socks retain foot sweat, which soften the skin leaving it more prone to blisters.
Wool socks, while very warm, are not practical in warmer climates. They are thick and overcrowd the foot in the shoe.
Cotton and wool socks are known as hydrophilic, meaning they retain moisture. Cotton maintains x3 times the moisture content of acrylic and x14 times that of synthetics according to some military studies.
While there are some reports that very high grade merino wool is lighter and allows for moisture to escape, generally speaking wool retains moisture, as well.
Synthetic socks, often called technical socks, are highly sophisticated and great for running. While there is a lack of “true” scientific details about their qualities, my take on them is the following:
- Blister management–Technical socks have a good capacity to keep feet dry. This occurs by transferring moisture away from the skin, expedites evaporation and thus minimises blisters.
- Comfort–Technical running socks have features like seamless toe enclosures and zoned panels that support the arch, improves the fit of the sock and cushioned the high impact areas of the heel and forefoot.
- Coolness—The designs promote temperature regulation by making the upper of the sock breathable.
- Ease of fit–Reducing unnecessary bulk and keep the sock from twisting thus improving comfort and running efficiency
- Value for money—You will pay more for technical socks but for the runner / sportsperson who suffers blisters, “hot foot syndrome”, or needs that competitive edge a good investment.
Note: Image courtesy of tiverylucky at freedigitalphotos.net