The more seriously a person takes their exercise, the more willing they are to shell out for the proper gear. There will always be the odd few people who try a sport once, buy all the flashy gear, and then never touch it again, but in general, a well-equipped athlete is one who puts a lot of thought and hard work into their exercise.
But there is one area where athletes of all levels frequently fall down, and that is choosing the right sock. A lot of people simply think that there is no real difference between one pair of socks and another, while others might have a few pairs of sports socks to use when exercising. But the type of socks you should wear depends on the type of exercise you will be doing, so if you really want to take yourself to the next level, read on.
If you’re running, how your sock reacts to sweat is you main concern. If your sock absorbs the moisture without removing it, it will firstly be less shock absorbant, but more importantly, it will cause discomfort and friction that will lead to blisters. The same can occur if the sock does not absorb or remove any moisture at all. What runners should look for is a padded sock (for shock absorption) made of synthetic material, such as acrylic or polyester, which will wick away an excess moisture i.e. shift it to the top of the sock for evaporation.
You might think that if a sock is suitable for running, it should be more than capable of handling a walk. But walking feet won’t experience the same levels of shock or moisture as running ones, so there is no need to use the same material for both. For walking, socks made out of natural Merino wool are the best choice. This wool is hydrophilic, meaning it absorbs moisture, but is also softer and more breathable than the synthetic options mentioned above. Since there won’t be as much sweat to absorb, these socks are perfect for comfort and temperature regulation for walkers.
For hiking, socks made out of Merino wool are also advisable, but again, that does not mean that walking socks and hiking socks are interchangeable. The two key characteristics you should look for in a hiking sock are padding, to protect your feet from the hard and uneven terrain, and height, to both keep out material such as rocks and twigs, as well as protect the ankle/lower-leg region from stings, cuts, and abrasions.
The exact type of socks you wear may depend on the sport you play, but in general, many of the best socks for ball sports share a lot of the same features. Synthetic fabrics, such as polyester or nylon, will help wick away sweat and keep the feet dry. Padding can help with shock absorption, while buying compression socks supports the feet while promoting circulation, which helps with both comfort and recovery.
If most of your workout in the gym is focused on running or walking, then you should stick with socks designed for those workouts. But if you’re going for an all-round workout, then it can be confusing to know which socks are most appropriate. Since the intensity of the workout is likely to be inconsistent, you should put function before comfort and go for socks made of a breathable synthetic material, to ensure they stay dry throughout. Padded socks are better than thinner alternatives, which won’t absorb any shock from certain exercises, and compression socks can help with support and stability as you move from one exercise to another.
Socks may seem like a simple thing that shouldn’t require too much thought, but the fact is that our feet are needed for almost every exercise we do, so protecting them is crucial. Even a minor and easily preventable issue such as a blister can bring your plans grinding to a halt. By taking just a little time to consider which socks are best for your workout, you can prevent problems such as these and ensure that you are doing the best workout possible.