An often-overlooked item in your wardrobe is a good pair of socks. Next to your shoes, they guard your feet against chafing, abrasions and protect them from the elements when you’re participating in sports and outdoor activities. This is why it is important to select appropriate socks that are not only functional, but also comfortable. And, if you can have a fashionable pair of socks, then you’re onto a winner!
Socks are made from different materials including cotton, wool, nylon, polyester, acrylic or spandex. Other fabrics such as mohair, bamboo, silk, linen and bamboo might be added to reinforce or add softness to the final product. Each type of fabric or material has its own advantages and disadvantages depending on the type of fitness activity you’re doing.
Cotton is sourced from natural plants. It is lightweight and great at absorbing moisture. If you are running, participating in a Spartan race or sweat a lot, then cotton socks might not be the best choice as they trap moisture making feet wet. If your feet accumulate moisture, you are more than likely to get blisters which are not only painful but also irritating. Plus, wet feet are perfect breeding grounds for fungus. In addition, after several washings, cotton socks lose their shape so you are likely to have a pair that keeps on scrunching up when you wear them, which will detract from your workout.
Acrylic or polypropylene fibers are synthetic materials that are lightweight and warm. They retain their shape after several washings and pulling actions. Acrylics wick moisture away so they are good for individuals who engage in a variety of sports.
Wool is usually used in cold climates and has a great water absorption capacity. Its redeeming quality is that it can still provide insulation even when wet, but at the same time, may create excessively warm and sweaty feet which can be bothersome when exercising.
The Ideal Socks
To address friction, heat and sweat problems when doing outdoor sports, the best pair is a natural fiber blended with artificial or synthetic fibers. For example, Spandex, Elastane or Lycra all enhance resistance to stretching. Other synthetic fibers are fantastic at repelling moisture such as Olefin (Coolmax).
Teflon is used to waterproof socks while Profilen is excellent at reducing friction. Gore-Tex and Kevlar are waterproof and thick materials that are good at preventing abrasions to the legs and feet. For less smelly feet, manufacturers add X-Static which is a fiber sourced from silver.
Whatever sock fabric combination you opt to wear when taking part in sports, it is clear that wicking abilities should be superior in addition to a snug fit and graduated compression for muscle support.
Article by: Jess Walter for Gypset Magazine