A recent survey of more than 1,400 American runners revealed that the average budget for running shoes is more than $350 per year. You take time to look at reviews and try on different options. You invest in technology and the perfect clothing. But how often do you consider your socks?
Running is tough on your feet. Arguably one of the most important accessories, the right socks can mean the difference between a comfortable run and one that’s plagued with blisters, chafing, and discomfort. It may be underrated, but that doesn’t mean this valuable running accessory has to stay that way.
Why Running Socks?
Do you really need special socks? Yes, you do. You could wear your regular cotton socks. But they’re not designed for the same level of performance. Once you start running with the right socks, you quickly realize the merits in them.
Most traditional socks are made of materials that hold on to heat and moisture. They increase friction, which leaves you vulnerable to blisters as your feet slip and slide a little in your running shoes. Some of the main reasons to invest in some good quality running socks are that they:
- Wick moisture away from your skin for comfort and blister protection
- Add extra cushioning in key areas like the balls of your feet and your heels to reduce impact
- Provide extra support in the arches or around the ankles for reduced fatigue and increased stability
How to Choose Running Socks?
Of all the running gear you can invest in, this is perhaps one of the most important to prevent chafing and blisters. Think of running socks as a layer of armor that helps protect your feet from blisters while making you more comfortable. This lets you get more from your runs. No matter if you're preparing to run your first mile or you're training for a marathon, the right pair of running socks makes all the difference. To choose the best options for you, consider the following factors:
1. Materials: Synthetics like nylon, polyester, and acrylic are the material found in many moisture-wicking fabrics. Merino wool is another option. It has temperature regulating properties and natural odor resistance in addition to being breathable and durable.
2. Cushioning: Different running socks provide different levels of padding in the heel and toe areas. The added thickness helps protect your feet from blisters and reduce the impact as you run.
3: Extra support: Some running socks include strategic compression in areas like arches or around the ankle to reduce fatigue and swelling while promoting blood flow.
4. Height: You'll find running socks in a full array of heights ranging from low-cut no-show options to knee-high running socks that provide added support for calves.
5. Shape: The shape of the socks matters as much as any other feature. Running socks should conform to the contours of your feet, with an elastic arch to hold them in place.
6: Fit: Ideally, you want your running socks to fit snugly. Loose and baggy materials will rub against your skin and create discomfort.
Compression Vs. No Compression
Some runners opt for compression running socks . They come in a variety of lengths and are designed to give your feet and legs a gentle squeeze to boost blood circulation. If you're prone to swelling or you struggle with your post-run recoveries, you might want to look into buying a pair or two to try. Some athletes and runners swear by compression socks, particularly for long-distance runs.