Don’t Overlook the Importance of Socks

Socks are an important component of a running athlete’s equipment. While offering protection, cushioning, and distributing the pressures of the shoe onto the foot, they also serve to enhance or impede the flow of moisture off the foot. A soggy foot may not end up being a healthy foot and cotton socks can certainly end up soaking your feet with all the moisture that ends up contained within them.

For exercise that lasts longer than 30 minutes it is a good idea to use a sock made of material that is less friendly to water and more friendly to your foot and more capable of moisture transmission. The terms hydrophilic and hydrophobic meaning respectively moisture loving and moisture fearing refer to the capacity for a sock to absorb moisture.

Wicking refers to the transmission of moisture from one area to another. A wicking gradient allows for moisture or perspiration to be transferred from your foot to the outside of the shoe by passing through a porous sock which does not capture and hold on to the moisture and allows it to continue through a breathable shoe upper. This requires a non-cotton sock and a shoe made of a material, such as breathable nylon mesh, that will allow water vapor to move through it.  The weave of a sock also has an impact on the ability of a sock to carry moisture from your foot. A denser weave allows for more air pockets which can fill with moisture, be compressed and then have the moisture “squeezed” out of them. A denser weave compacts less and can provide better shock absorption.

Sock Tips:

  • Choose your sock thickness to correlate with the fit of your shoes. If you fit and selected your shoes with thin socks, moving to thick socks or double thickness socks may end up squeezing your feet.
  • Make sure to bring the socks you intend to wear when you get fitted for new running shoes.
  • Consider using socks made of feet friendly, moisture wicking materials. Not the cheap 3 for $10 deals.
  • Change your socks at least daily.
  • Always use fresh, clean, dry socks for your athletic activities.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Blisters, corns, irritations, infections, athlete’s foot – all of these can happen from bad fitting socks made of the incorrect materials. In fact the use of inappropriate socks has even led to what has been called the “toxic sock syndrome.”  Pitted keratolysis, as unpleasant as it sounds occurs in feet which have suffered from excessive perspiration  and moisture often in the presence of an increased surface pH. And as far as athlete’s foot goes, remember that a dark, warm, moist environment is fungus heaven.  Let’s at least get rid of some of that moisture!

To combat excess moisture and keep your runners feet in top shape check out where you can get technically superior socks developed for comfort and foot health.