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Gear and Technology

What is the purpose of running socks?

A runner laces up their shoes before a run.
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So you bought a new pair of running shoes because you want to take care of your body while running. Good move. But have you considered how much of a difference running socks can make, too? Not all socks are created equal. In this article, we'll cover why running socks make a difference and what to look for when purchasing them.

Running socks are designed with synthetic materials to wick moisture away from your feet, increase ventilation to keep you comfortable, and offer support and compression in high-stress areas of your feet like your medial arch or heel.

Get technical

A general rule with any running gear is to simply avoid cotton. This certainly holds true with socks. Cotton holds moisture and can cause serious blisters on the feet and toes. Technical, synthetic materials like nylon, Lycra, polyester, and spandex wick moisture away from your feet and drastically reduce your chances of getting those nasty blisters.

Many running socks are also designed with seamless construction, again to help avoid any friction that can, in turn, cause blisters. In addition to the technical aspects of synthetic material, just as importantly, they are much less likely to hold odor like cotton does.

Compression is key

Many socks offer compression designed to increase blood flow, reducing tiredness and helping to boost recovery. Compression also offers some gentle structure to high-stress areas like your medial arch. When your arch begins to fatigue on your run, this extra bit of compression can make all the difference.

Also, compression helps to prevent the bunching of the sock in your shoe. A bunched sock in your shoe is never comfortable, but a bunched sock while running is the worst.

Running socks come in all different heights from no-show to crew length, super thin to maximum cushioning. Some socks even offer a waterproof layer to keep your feet dry if it's raining. As long as you find a sock made of synthetic material that fits well and is comfortable, you're off on the right foot.

Our writer's advice is intended for informational or general educational purposes only. We always encourage you to speak with your physician or healthcare provider before making any adjustments to your running, nutrition, or fitness routines.

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Written By
Tim Kelly

Marathon Runner & Coach

Tim Running

Ohio native that loves travel, gardening, and helping people do more with their running than they thought possible. 8+ years as a running coach. 12 years as a runner and cyclist.