What to Look for in Running Socks

Gearing up with the appropriate pair of socks can help enhance your experience on the road or on the trail.

When it comes to running gear, shoes are what individuals pay attention to most. After all, they offer support, traction and cushioning to your feet which get put under an immense amount of pressure. What people may not realize, however, is what’s inside the shoe is important as well.

Specifically, socks made for running offer a number of benefits to athletes. Designed differently than a typical sock, running socks take into consideration the potential strains and effects that running can pose on your feet. Before buying a pair, though, take into consideration the problems you face during training sessions. Do your feet sweat heavily? Are you susceptible to blisters? Are you getting enough circulation?

What sort of weather do you typically run in? The right pair of running socks can alleviate all of these problems, and then some.

Before jumping into some of the key features to look for in running socks, there is one guideline to follow: Avoid 100% cotton socks. Cotton easily absorbs moisture like sweat, creating an uncomfortable environment for your feet throughout your session.

COMFORT IS KEY

At the very least, your running socks should provide you with some cushioning at impact zones. These are the areas that can suffer the most strain during a run. This targeted cushioning is made to help keep you on your feet longer with less irritation. You can also look for running socks that offer additional padding in the heel and rear of the foot, because this is the area where a runner’s worst nightmare — blisters — can form. There are other options available for added comfort, such as socks with a higher thread count for a durable, softer feel.

Also, look for socks that offer a seamless toe. Some toe seams can cause unwanted friction — especially during long runs — but socks with seamless toes aim to avoid possible irritation.

Finally, for added Achilles protection, look for running socks with an added tab or higher silhouette at the back of the ankle, near the heel. This lip layer between your foot and shoe could prevent excess friction. It could also aid in keeping your sock in place throughout your run.

STAYING PUT ON YOUR FOOT

Most runners have experienced that feeling of annoyance when their socks continue to slide with every stride, causing them to stop frequently to fix or adjust. A good pair of running socks, however, should have arch support to keep your sock in place during runs and prevent any movement and friction that can possibly lead to blisters.

MOISTURE-WICKING MATERIALS

Like other moisture-wicking clothing you may have, these socks wick away sweat, which can lead to more enjoyable exercise while reducing the chances of developing blisters. The breathable fabrics which are popular today will allow your feet to stay cool and dry. Some options even include a mesh venting system.

MATERIALS

Most running socks will be produced from either synthetic fiber, such as acrylic or nylon, or a blend of natural fibers, such as wool or cotton and synthetics. While blended socks can offer more comfort to some individuals, the wool or cotton can stretch over time. Synthetic socks will retain their shape better, but can become less comfortable in extreme heat or cold. The ultimate deciding factor when it comes to your next purchase, however, is personal preference.

Adding running socks to your equipment list can set yourself up for newfound success on your run. All you have to do is take that first step. Good luck!