The fall weather has settled in and our summer shoes are tucked away and dreaming of warmer days. This season brings back warmer clothes into our wardrobe and we’re digging through the sock drawer to find warmer, thicker socks for the cool days ahead.
There are many different types of socks on the market today, and you’ll find them in just about every clothing store that you enter. You may think socks are a simple staple that you put on every morning, but we’re here to differentiate between the different types of socks and ones that may work better for you. A good pair of socks will keep your feet warm and dry in the winter, and cool and moisture-free in the summer.
A large contributor to the number of styles of socks that exist can be due to the vast number of materials that can be used for socks. Synthetic fabrics (polyester) and natural fabrics (bamboo, merino wool) work to wick moisture from the foot and help with temperature regulation and moisture management in any weather and for any activity.
A common misconception is that cotton is the best choice when choosing sock materials. However, cotton absorbs moisture, keeping it closer to your feet, and offers poor insulation when wet.
Generally you’ll find that socks come in 4 different lengths: ankle cut, crew cut (slightly above the ankle), mid-calf and calf length (to the knee). Each style will serve a different purpose and can be more fashion forward or be geared towards an activity/ technical focus. Ankle and crew cut socks are great for activities while wearing shoes that hit below the ankle (walking, running, tennis, etc.), while socks that are mid-calf cut are great for higher cut footwear (hiking boots, work boots).
You’ve decided on the right material and length, so how should a sock fit? Ideally, you want the socks to provide a snug fit against your foot, allowing room for your toes. Although it should be snug, the socks should not cramp or curl the toes, and should fit snugly at the heel. Turn the sock inside out to look at seam construction and particular areas of cushioning. The seams should all be flat. Look for any areas that may cause irritation.
As mentioned above, fabric choice is imperative to overall comfort, which is especially important when choosing socks for different activities. For example, the socks that you wear for winter activities (cross country skiing, snowshoeing, walking) will likely be different than the athletic sock that you wear to the gym. Although both socks ideally will have moisture wicking properties, the athletic socks that you wear to the gym will likely be thinner for comfort, ease of wearing them with your athletic footwear, and ensuring that your feet are better thermo-regulated.
Compression socks can be very beneficial if used correctly. There are different levels of compression on the market, ranging from a low level of compression (found at most pharmacies and sporting good stores) to a high level of compression, which must be prescribed by a medical practitioner and available through select medical professionals and retailers, each with the goal of improving or maintaining circulation. Compression socks have have a variety of uses, including maternity wear, varicose veins, and extended traveling. If you have questions about compression stockings or think you might be a candidate, contact your SoleScience pedorthist or medical practitioner to discuss if they would be a viable part of your treatment plan.
If you have diabetes, maintaining your foot health is important. In addition to checking your feet each day, checking your socks should be a key part of your day. When purchasing new socks, look for ones that are seamless, including at the toes, heels, and at the top of the sock. Socks that do not have cuffs at the top, ensure that circulation continues through the lower leg and foot, without swelling occurring at the top of the sock. When putting on a pair of socks, turn the socks inside out to ensure that there are no seams, or areas that may cause irritation. If you are unsure what sock is right for you, your SoleScience Pedorthist can help you choose socks that can help keep your feet comfortable and healthy.
While getting ready for the day, it is important to account for the activities that you will be doing and the footwear you will be using in choosing an appropriate sock and ensuring your comfort throughout the day. If you have questions pertaining to socks, appropriate socks for different activities, feel free to reach out to your SoleScience pedorthist who will be happy to assist and provide suggestions.