A Guide to Running Socks

If you’ve been running in cotton socks and putting up with blisters, soggy feet and poor fit, it’s time to head to your local fitness store and research your options. Sport specific socks are now readily available to runners and are well worth the investment.

Why spend more than ($18) on a pair of performance running socks? The #1 benefit is the elimination of blisters. Running socks are designed with technical benefits to keep feet cooler, drier and more comfortable. Running with cool, dry comfortable feet will eliminate blisters from your training.

The #2 reason to buy running socks is improved fit. Your normal tube sock, tennis sock, or cotton gym sock doesn’t offer a snug customized fit. Poorly fitting socks create gaps between the running shoe and the foot. These gaps cause irritation and discomfort. A well fitting sock molds to your foot and eliminates rubbing.

Climate control is the #3 reason to invest in running socks. The new socks on the market place promise to keep your feet cool and dry. Here’s how the new technical fibers, such as CoolmaxÃ?® work. Technical fibers in running socks are designed to pull moisture away from the bottom of the sock. Moisture is redistributed throughout the sock allowing sweat to dry faster and your feet to stay drier.

Putting them to the test

I laced up and put several pairs of running socks to the test. Here’s a brief recap of what is currently available.

ULTIMAX�® by WIGWAM

Sock tested: Performance Quarter

www.wigwam.com

They say: These socks are recommended for general fitness, running and cycling. The Ultimax Ironman sock has a patented Moisture Control System and a two year performance guarantee. Wigwam touts their cushioned instep and ankle, saying the added padding protects the Crural ligament from stress and lace pressure.

I say: The sizing ran a bit large. I wear an US 8 Ã?½ running shoe. The size medium sock claims to fit a women’s US 6-10 (UK size 4-8). On the plus side, these socks were a great medium weight and the UltimaxÃ?® Moisture Control System kept my feet nice and dry. The “Y” design heel pocket really did cradle my heel in comfort and the cushioned sole did absorb shock when I was running on pavement. As far as design, the IronmanÃ?® logo at the ankle is cute and definitely sporty.

WRIGHTSOCK�

Sock tested: Double Layerâ�¢with Coolmesh�®

www.wrightsocks.com

They say: Wrightsockâ�¢ has a patented anti-blister system. The Wrightsockâ�¢ is designed with two layers of fabric to absorb the friction of the foot rubbing against the shoe. The inner layer of the sock is designed with Coolmax�® intended to wick moisture away from the foot and spread the moisture out over four channels in the sock; thus giving sweat a larger area to evaporate. They also offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

I say: TheDouble Layer� construction made the socks seem a little slippery at first. After a kilometer or so, I adjusted to the fit and was pleased with the socks performance. Wrightsock� come in feminine colors (I tested a lavender and white pair)and I like the low rise, ankle hugging design.

THORLO

Sock tested: Crew Medium-Protectionlevel 3

www.thorlo.com

They say: ThorloÃ?® offers a 30 day no risk trial–if these socks don’t fit better than your ordinary socks you get your money back. Protection Level 3 products are designed to help protect your feet from the damaging effects of impact, shear and blistering caused by running. Thor-lonÃ?®fibers run throughout the sock to provide maximum durability and moisture management.

I say: If you like thick socks you’ll love ThorloÃ?®. The manufacturer suggests customers who opt for this sock may want to go Ã?½ size larger in their running shoes. These socks were cushy and comfortable and did a great job controlling moisture. As a matter of personal preference, I prefer thinner socks that make my feet feel more connected to my running shoes.

DEFEET�®

Sock Tested: Cush 3-D� with Low cuff

www.defeet.com

They say: Their socks provide ample padding throughout the footbed. DeFeetÃ?® offers a one year guarantee for socks to be free of defects. EnÃ?·DuroÃ?·SkinâÂ?¢ construction reinforces the external heel and toe puncture areas. These socks are durable and combine the benefits of CoolMaxÃ?®’s breathability with FreshFXÃ?® bacteria fighting fibers.

I say: Initially, I found the fit a bit loose, but again, this didn’t propose any problems once I began running. Comparatively, I did notice my feet became the sweatiest in this sock. What I likedâÂ?¦these socks have the coolest designs in the market. The patterns on the “holographic cuff” become visible once the sock is put on the foot. Overall, I was drawn to the thin texture of these socks and their eye-catching colors (hot pink, turquoise, etc.).

NIKE

Sock Tested: Elite Running Sock

www.nike.com

They say: Nike’s Dri-FIT technology wicks away moisturef rom the foot. Nike’s foot strike cushioning technology was specially developed in the Nike Sports Research Lab using pressure point mapping of a runner’s foot strike. These socks are designed with CorduraÃ?® nylonin the heel and toe to provide durability and to resist abrasion.

I say: These were the thinnest socks I tried. I found them to be the best fitting socks that I tested (note: I run in Nike running shoes so perhaps that had something to do with influencing my decision). My feet stayed very dry throughout my workout. I liked the contoured toe pocket. My feet felt swaddled in comfort and not bound up inside of my shoes. One trick with these socks-they are anatomically designed for the right and left foot. If you loose �½ of a pair it may be hard to match them up with a mate from another pair!

Caring for your running socks

Congratulations. You’ve seen fit to elevate your running performance by adding technical socks to your gear. Now, shouldn’t you take the time and energy to properly care for this investment?

Most manufacturers suggest turning the socks inside out before washing. Washing socks inside out helps to fluff up the padding between runs. When washing, use warm or cool water and no bleach. Adding a liquid fabric softener can help to lubricate the sock’s technical fibers and extend their life. After washing, tumble dry the socks under low heat or let them line dry. Adhering to these care instructions will add to the lifetime performance of your socks.

One note, since you are not using hot water and bleach, your socks may not stay pearly white. What you are giving up in the way of whiteness, will more than be compensated for in comfort and durability.

Updating your gym bag with sport specific socks will result in more comfortable runs and may even inspire you to add a mile or two to your workout. Next time you are at a sports store pick up a pair of running socks-your feet will thank you!

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