We do it almost on autopilot, get dressed that is. We grab a pair of socks from our drawer, put them on, throw on some shoes and consider ourselves ready to run. But are we? Not all socks are created equal. There are definite benefits to wearing cushioned socks for running.
Do Runners Need Special Socks?
Need? You mean like we need air and water and food? No, runners don’t need specially designed socks in which to run. But do you want them? Will they help your feet stay healthy and happy? Yes. Special socks will absolutely your feet in the long run (pun intended).
Did you know that most runners size up either one-half or full shoe size when compared to their everyday shoes? This is because the average runner’s feet swell at least some while putting on miles.
To compensate for some of this extra space, a great cushioned sock for running is helpful and keeps the shoes fitting comfortably. Wearing a cheap pair of socks could result in your foot sliding around, which can often mean blisters.
In addition, running socks are specially formulated to absorb friction and also wick away moisture. As you know when you are working hard, like in running, feet are likely to sweat inside of shoes.
In addition to cushion, many socks offer arch support. This is important for many runners. The fatigue of running can be wearing on the runner’s body and offering support throughout the bottom of the foot can help fend off the discomfort.
It is amazing how much difference a little web of support through the arch can make in a sock!
A well-fit pair of socks will be snug through the heel and arches yet have room in the toe area. Some movement for your feet is important in the toe box of your shoes.
The idea behind cushioned socks is that the sock provides extra protection in areas that could be easily damaged. Cushioning can also decrease the pain of impact, especially for high mileage runners.
The amount of cushion can vary by brand, but they all have some things in common. Typically, socks have cushions around the heel and in the areas surrounding the toes.
Light Cushion Socks
Minimalist runners tend to like socks with less cushion so they can feel every step of the journey. The thinner the sock the easier the shoe can move with the foot. For a person wearing minimalist shoes, this is an important and valued aspect.
Also, some runners prefer less cushion during the hot weather months. This assumes that some of the reasons for the athlete wearing the cushioned sock have to do with keeping the foot warm.
Medium Cushion Socks
Perfect for running and other activities where you want cushion while keeping the supportive qualities intact, medium cushion socks may be your choice.
For athletes who want either a compression running sock or some arch support, the medium cushion socks the answer. A performance cushion sock can combine the cushion you crave with other aspects.
Maximum Cushion Socks
Maximum cushion socks offer thick cushion across the board. These socks are great for long runs when your feet are taking a lot of pounding on the pavement. Also, cushion socks can be perfect for hiking and trail running, when you are likely to encounter uneven terrain.
Other Things to Consider
✓ Say No to Cotton
There are situations where cotton is appropriate and running is not one of them. As stated before, your socks should be capable of moisture-wicking.
Cotton will absorb sweat and odors. Wet feet are more likely to blister and crack, and damaged feet are unhappy and unhealthy feet.
✓ To Compress or Not To Compress
Some athletes like wearing compression socks which are socks that are very snug. Compression is known to help with recovery by increasing blood flow. They can also ease aches and pains.
Some runners wear compression while running and others only use them post-workout. Knee-length compression socks can also aid in the reduction of lactic acid post-run.
✓ Height of Sock
Socks vary in length. Some socks are no show and are not seen over the top of the running shoe. Other socks barely peek out of the back of the shoe while other pairs clearly cover the ankle.
Socks come in crew length (which is mid-calf) and knee-high (which extends to just below the knee). Sock height is truly a matter of preference. Some runners vary the height of sock they wear with the weather.
Hot weather might find a runner preferring no show or ankle socks, while sub-zero weather may have runner digging out the knee highs.
Putting It All Together
As a runner, you need to put this all together to find the perfect socks for your feet. It does not pay to spend good money on a pair of quality running shoes then pair them with cheap socks. Making good choices for your feet extends into the socks that you wear.
Whether you want a lot of cushions or just a little there is a sock for you. The same is true for compression, support and the height of the sock. Socks also come in all colors for runners who like to express their individuality on their feet, ankles, and calves.
Although some runners may find that they like a variety of different brands and styles, there are also runners who find a favorite brand or type of sock and stick to that one.
It is also true that some runners switch their sock of choice based on the seasons; for example, they favor longer socks with more cushion in the colder months.
The long and short of it is that if you are into taking care of your feet, the qualities you should ensure are in your socks are that they should be moisture-wicking and have at least some cushion to keep your feet happy over the miles.
After all, who doesn’t need a little more comfort and cushion in their life?