Sunday, March 15, 2009

Make Your Feet Happy. Don't Skimp on the Socks.

Socks for running sure have come a long way since I started running in the mid 80s. Actually when I started running, I don't even recall there being any socks specifically made for running. In the mid 90s I began noticing brands like Thorlos and The Wright Sock . The original Thorlos were designed with extra thick padding in the heel and ball areas of the socks for increased cushioning. You often had to buy a size up in your shoe to accommodate the extra-thickness. The Wright Sock company produced a double-layer anti-blister sock. These socks were designed with two thin layers of material. The interaction of the two layers absorbs the friction instead of it being transferred to the feet where it would normally cause blisters. Both sock companies still exist and have made numerous improvements to their products including using lighter-weight, moisture-wicking, high-tech materials and adding more styles (no-show, anklet, crew, etc.) to their lines. Thorlos still makes their original thick sock as well as lines with moderate-cushion and thin-cushion. The Wright Sock has even added a cushioned version to its line.

Today, there are several running sock companies—Balega, Injinji, Wigwam, DeFeet, Bridgedale, Feetures, Drymax, etc. Not to be left out, most of the major running shoe companies produce their own lines of high-tech running socks—Nike, Adidas, Pearl Izumi, Asics, Brooks, Puma, New Balance, etc.

So, what are the best running socks? There's probably no one sock perfect for every runner, so take some time to evaluate your needs and select the sock that's best suited to you. The main thing is to avoid socks made of cotton. Cotton absorbs moisture, keeping your feet wet, making perfect conditions for blisters. All this moisture also makes the perfect home for bacteria causing stinky feet and shoes. Look for socks made of synthetic materials that wisk the moisture away from your feet. Also, look for socks with few or no seams, especially around the toe. Double-layer or snug-fitting socks tend to help decrease blisters. The price of running socks can vary widely. Before you buy 5 packs of those expensive cool-looking socks, it's probably not a bad idea to buy one pack, try them out on a few runs and see how they work before investing in more. Happy feet make for happy run.

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