Do you really need specialist socks to go running? While you can technically use any old pair of sicks for running and still survive, the right socks come with a number of benefits (while the wrong ones can cause absolute havoc), so it is worth investing in a good pair if you plan to run on a regular basis - maybe once a week or more.
There are many types of running specific socks to choose from. What are the different types and how do you know what to buy? In this blog post I summarise the key points to consider and hopefully it will help you find the right sock for your needs. Of course you can always contact us through the chat window on this site and we will be happy to help you.
What is a running sock?
Whether you’re training for a marathon or getting started on your couch to 5k programme, as a runner, looking after your feet is very important. But what exactly is a running sock and how do they differ from standard cotton options that you might wear day to day or at the gym?
Specifically designed running socks will help you perform at your best by ensuring your feet are comfortable and supported, because they have been designed specifically to increase ventilation, wick moisture and offer support where needed during the running gait.
Sometimes finding the right socks is overlooked in the quest to find the perfect pair of running shoes. However, without some high-quality socks, problems such as blisters, overheating and discomfort will stop you from getting the best out of your perfect running shoe. The reality is you need both.
The main types of running socks
From anklet to quarter length or super-thin to double layer socks, there are a number of different types to choose from but they usually fall into the following categories:
- Waterproof socks: you will be pleased to hear you can buy waterproof running socks that are designed to keep your feet warm and dry in adverse conditions, by wicking the water away from your feet.
- Odour-repellent socks: More of a problem for some people than others! But pretty much everyone will have sweaty feet, and therefore odour repellent socks are more than a marketing gimmick. These help to keep feet cool and dry and therefore less smelly, thanks to clever antibacterial technology.
- Compression socks: Designed to gently squeeze your muscles to improve blood circulation, reduce tiredness and boost recovery time. Whilst compression socks are available, a more common solution (and certainly my preference) is to pair my running socks with compression calf guards. I have found that this puts the compression where I actually need it and is a better solution than using long running socks.
- Blister-free socks: This is the killer reason for buying running specific socks! Blisters are something that we all suffer with from time to time, but certainly something to try and avoid and minimise. These socks tend to use a two-layer system such as the TwinSkins we sell. These work by significantly reducing the potential for friction by the two layers of material moving against each other, rather than against your skin.
Help buying running socks
There are a few important factors to consider when shopping for run socks:
Check the Fabric
Just like your running top, your socks should be made from a breathable, quick-drying fabric to keep your feet dry. It's best to avoid cotton because it holds moisture and traps it against your skin, which causes blisters in the summer and coldness in the winter. Socks which use technical synthetic materials instead will help to transport the sweat away from your skin. We stock Hilly Socks which are made of a technical fibre specifically designed to perform in this way.
Buy the right size
Sounds obvious, but your socks should be the same size as your running shoes. Too big or too small can slide around and will likely cause blisters. They should have a good fit, especially under the arch of the foot and around the heel. To make sure you have the right size, make sure that the heel portion of the socks perfectly lands on your heel without stretching.
Check they are seam free
The devil is in the detail, as something as small as a seam could end up causing you considerable discomfort over a surprisingly short distance. Making sure they are seam free will save you a lot of problems with chaffing.
Consider the thickness
Do you prefer a cushioned sock or an invisible feel? Most run socks will offer extra padding in the areas of the foot that take the most impact; your toes, heels and arch (which is why running socks often have a right and a left foot). So think about your ideal thickness before you invest.
How to take care of your running socks
Like most sports kit, taking care of your socks isn't difficult, but there are a few things you can do to maximise longevity.
It is best to turn your socks inside out before putting them in the washing machine and wash them on a cool setting without fabric softener which should be how you wash the rest of your running kit (to protect the technical fabric). Also make sure to air dry them as the heat from a tumble dryer will likely damage the fabric.