What Kind of Socks Are Best For Your Feet?

Socks come in all different varieties, all of them different from their color to their function. But does it really matter what socks you wear? And if it does matter, are you wearing the right ones for your unique needs? 

The best kind of socks for your feet depends on your health, activity level, and whether you have any foot conditions. One type of sock might not be enough; for example, you may wear a different pair of socks with your dress shoes at work than you do when you work out or go for a run.

Close-up of sportswoman wearing white socks while preparing for workout at home.Should You Wear Thin or Thick Socks?

If you're looking to prevent blisters, you might think a pair of thick socks is your best option. In theory, it makes sense. The thick material should provide a cushiony barrier between your skin and the inside of your shoes. At least, you would think so.

The truth is, where most people focus on that barrier, it's best to focus on a podiatrist's worst nightmare: excess moisture

Moisturizing your feet is important, even crucial. But too much sweat in your socks can lead to athlete's foot, foot odor, and excess friction. Friction + your skin is a recipe for the very thing you were trying to prevent: blisters. In this case, thin socks dry more quickly, wicking away moisture and allowing your feet to breathe.

Thick socks can be used for good, though. A great rule of thumb is to switch out your socks the same way you switch out your wardrobe. Wear thin, breathable socks in the warmer months before switching to thicker socks when the temperatures start to plummet. Remember to always keep a few pairs of thin athletic socks on standby if you work out indoors.

What Material is Best For Socks?

Just like socks come in millions of colors and patterns, they also come in a wide variety of materials. Here's a handy list of common materials used for socks and a guide on the pros and cons of each:

Cotton Socks

Socks made from cotton are the most common variety. They are lightweight but strong and durable. Cotton socks are a great choice for the warmer months, but aren't ideal for working out, running, or doing anything else that might make your feet sweat. Cotton does not dry quickly. This leads to excess moisture, odor, blisters, and fungus. 

Wool SocksCropped photo of young unrecognizable female putting on socks, lady with slender legs pulls socks, sitting on bed at home. morning. Low section of young woman putting on slippers in white bedroom.

Wool is notorious for being warm and cozy. Wool is perfect for keeping your feet warm in the winter months. People with Raynaud's, a condition causing a lack of blood flow in the fingers and toes exacerbated by the cold, should wear wool socks to keep their feet extra toasty.

Synthetic Socks 

Socks made from synthetic materials like nylon and polyester are stretchy, comfortable, and a great option for most people. They absorb moisture and keep their feet fresher for longer. Unlike wool socks, they don't require any special care: just toss them in the washer and drier. There are also options that blend cotton or wool with synthetic materials. These blended options are great for everyday wear.

bottom half of a man wearing white compression socksCompression Socks

You may be thinking about skipping this section because you think compression socks are only for those with underlying conditions. While compression socks and stockings are extremely helpful for those with diabetes, lymphedema, and vascular disorders, you can benefit from them too! Runners report reduced swelling and muscle fatigue post-run, and even improved recovery. Any athlete can benefit from wearing compression socks. Additionally, those who lead more sedentary lifestyles can wear compression socks to prevent swelling and avoid blood clots. 

Read my previous article covering everything you need to know about compression socks to learn more!

What Are the Best Socks for Athletes?

Here's a short list of some podiatrist-recommended socks:

  1. NikeGrip Socks: This style features a specially engineered yarn, which provides traction within your shoes as well as ample padding. 
  2. Pedestal Footwear 4.0: These socks are ideal for weight-lifting enthusiasts, especially those who prefer to lift sans shoes. Silicone grips dot the base of the socks to provide stability at your 'impact zones' during a lift. 
  3. DryMax R-Gear Running Socks: Keep your feet comfortable, dry, and chafe-free. These socks feature a barrier to avoid friction, blisters, and excess moisture. 
  4. Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 4.0: CEP is the brand responsible for these socks, a German company considered a pioneer in compression footwear. These check all the boxes: compression, anti-microbial fabric, and ample padding. 
  5. TruSox 3.0 Mid-Calf Crew Socks: If you are a soccer fan, you may have seen some of your favorite professional players sporting these socks. They feature non-slip pads that are perfect for sprinting, turning, and jumping. There are multiple versions, and you can choose between cushioned or thin, three lengths, and twelve different colors!

feet athlete man in compression socks running black road asphaltIf you're in Mid-Michigan, we recommend checking out Runners Athletic Company for a great variety of socks.

What are the Best Socks for Foot Pain?

Socks can help to offer some relief if you're suffering from foot pain. A plantar fasciitis sock (or sleeve) can help offer some support for your arch. Compression socks can also help improve blood flow to the area, resulting in less pain. Additionally, thicker, padded socks can offer extra support, cushion, and even offloading for calluses or bunions. Ultimately, the socks you wear won't do much good in easing your foot or heel pain if you aren't wearing the proper shoes. Check out my recent article where I give you 10 podiatrist-recommended shoes and teach you the qualities to look for in a pair of shoes.

Will Socks Help Me Get Rid of My Foot Pain?

Unfortunately, socks alone aren't always enough to heal your foot pain. At Freeland Foot and Ankle Clinic, we will create a customized care plan to fit your condition, your goals, and your life. Are you ready to get rid of your foot pain for good without surgery? Conveniently located in the heart of Mid-Michigan, we are always accepting new patients, and we have same-day appointments available now. Call us at 989-695-6788 or fill out our contact form to schedule your consultation today.

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