Sometimes the smallest change can make the biggest difference. This is absolutely true with running. Most new runners will come in for a biomechanical analysis and mention they get blisters, their feet get hot, and their socks bunch up on them. They are often surprised when we tell them they should never run in a cotton sock. They get even more shocked when we mention that synthetic or wool socks are great alternatives. The small change from a cotton sock to a synthetic or wool sock often makes a huge difference for people.
The basic rule of thumb with socks is ABC, Anything But Cotton.
Why is cotton so bad? Well, first of all, your socks fall down around your heel because of cotton, not because of your shoes or because the socks are too small. Cotton socks bunch up and they don’t wick sweat away from your feet. If you are wearing a cotton sock, sweat will stay on your foot and in the sock. Gross. Cotton socks are also bad at controlling the temperature of your feet. When you run, your feet swell, sweat, and they get really hot. Add the heat and the moisture together and you’ve got the perfect recipe for blisters.
There are good socks, better socks and then finally, the best socks for running. We have a lot of different brands, styles and colors of socks in our stores. All of them are cotton free, but they are all not created equally.
Let’s start with “good” socks”
Both Brooks and Asics make a three pack of socks. . Both of these packs are going to be infinitely better than anything with cotton in them, but they are not the best. They will do well for the majority of runners who stick to about 10-12 miles a week but for runners who do longer runs, there are other options which would be better. I usually recommend a three pack as well as a better sock so runners can get a better idea of what they like and don’t like.
Specifically, the Brooks socks are on the thinner side. They retail for $14.99 for 3 pairs. They are made to fit a little tighter on the foot and they come in a few different color schemes. I like these because they do great on the short fast runs.
The Asics 3 pack is more cushioned, only comes in white, but has two options as far as height goes around the ankle, the quarter cut as shown here, and then a ‘low cut’ option. They are $12.99 for three pair. I personally really like these because they are soft, great to wear every day, and are relatively cheap.
Balega (left) is the number one sock company for running specialty stores. They make a lot of different styles and they are great for those who like a lot of cushion in their socks. These are the X Athlete Hidden Comfort. They have a breathable upper and they come in cute colors. The great thing about Balega is they remain soft for many many washes. There are some socks which feel really soft and “cushy” at first, but they quickly lose the fluff. They retail for $10.00/pair.
Asics Hera socks (right) are great for almost all the same reasons as the Balegas. They are soft, cushioned, and I think they are cute. These are “women’s”. They also have left and right foot-specific cushioning which ensures you get the support where you need it. These socks are $12.00/pair
The two socks on the left are two of my most favorite socks. The Feetures Elite socks are thin, fit tightly around the foot, and are very breathable. They maintain their shape, wont bunch up, and are great for running or cycling. These retail for $13.99/pair.
The next pair of socks, and possibly the greatest thing I have found for running, are the Ultra Light Micro PhD socks from Smart Wool. They are indeed made of wool. You might be thinking, ew! wool? ITCHY! But you are wrong. There are many grades of wool. Merino wool is the best and softest wool. That is what these are made of. Wool is the best at wicking sweat away from the foot and pushing it out into the mesh of the shoe so it can evaporate. I wear these socks all the time and in my everyday shoes as well. One more great thing, they help to keep your feet from stinking up your shoes. WIN. They are $14.00/pair.
Finally, we have to Asics Kayano classic sock. Quite possibly one of the best socks. It has left and right foot construction for foot-specific cishioning, it is cushioned where you want it, and thin where you don’t. The upper is very breathable and the heel pocket adds a lot of great heel support. These socks are $14.00/pair.
Now that you know way more about socks than you ever thought possible, give some good ones a try. The smallest changes can often lead to the biggest returns and you just might find that spending a little more on your socks can lead to longer more enjoyable runs!