Sock Selection for Comfort

21 Nov Sock Selection for Comfort

Socks and the City: Why Your Socks Matter

Everyone knows that comfortable, well-fitting shoes are the key to walking well, living well and feeling great all over. Do we ever think about the rest of our foot attire? In this post, we’re giving a shoutout to socks, the unsung heroes of good foot health.

Why Socks Matter

We wear socks almost every day, throwing them on before we pull on our shoes and not giving them much thought. That’s a mistake. Your socks can have a huge impact on how your feet feel.

Consider the following:

  • Your feet contain more than 200,000 sweat glands.
  • The keys to sock comfort are breathability, softness, and the ability to wick moisture away from your skin.
  • Socks that don’t wick away sweat or moisture can cause blisters, fungal infections, frostbite and more.

When it comes to comfort and performance, the fabric is a key factor.

What Are the Most Popular Socks Fabrics?

Merino Wool

Although we think of wool as a warm, winter fabric, lightweight merino wool is ideal for all seasons. Merino wool is durable, soft and able to quickly wick away moisture. A great feature of merino wool is its ability to help skin regulate its own temperature.

It dries quickly, resists mildew and doesn’t itch. That sounds perfect, but perfection will cost you.

Merino wool is expensive. On the other hand, socks and clothes made from it can hold up to many years of use. If you spend a lot of time exercising outdoors or hiking, merino wool socks are a good investment.


Acrylic is an inexpensive alternative to wool. You can find acrylic socks designed to wick away moisture and resist bacteria. These socks feel soft and comfortable, and they will hold up to regular use.

New socks made from acrylic and other synthetic fabrics often have specialty fabrics added to them to make them suitable for high-performance exercising, hiking and running. These socks are also a great choice. If you’re buying socks for running, hiking, skiing or other sports, look for brand names like CoolMax, Wickspun and Isolfil.


Bamboo is showing up as an environmentally friendly solution for everything from flooring to clothing. It’s also making an appearance as a fabric choice for socks.

Is the hype real? Bamboo socks are lightweight, smooth and soft. They help your feet breathe naturally and are good at wicking moisture. Their drawback is they’re not as warm or as durable as wool or acrylic blends. If you don’t need that much warmth and you want an affordable, natural alternative to wool, bamboo is a good choice.


Nothing feels better than soft, fluffy fleece socks on your feet. They keep your feet warm even in icy cold conditions. Fleece is great under shoes and boots in cold weather.

Fleece does a good job of wicking away moisture. Its drawback in high-performance socks is that it doesn’t shape to the foot very well. Fleece socks tend to be loose and slippery. That makes them a great choice for running around town or commuting to work but not for sports.

Corn Socks?

The latest entrant in the ecologically friendly fabric race is a material with the brand name Ingeo. Ingeo uses dextrose from corn and polylactic acid biopolymers to create a soft, lightweight and breathable fabric.

The makers of Ingeo say the process to make it uses half the energy to make as polyester fabric and emits half the greenhouse gases. Reviewers say it wicks moisture well but isn’t as durable as other fabrics.


Cotton and cotton-blend socks are lightweight, inexpensive and comfortable. Cotton is natural, washable and durable.

The problem with cotton is that it just absorbs moisture. It doesn’t wick it away. It also takes a long time to dry and holds onto wetness. That makes cotton a bad choice if you’re doing any kind of sustained aerobic activity. You’ll wind up with dripping socks, blisters and a potential cause of a fungal nail on your hands, or rather feet.

If you’re looking for everyday wear, cotton is fine. If you want socks for sports or high-performance activities, consider a polyester blend, bamboo or merino wool.

Pick Your Socks Wisely

When you select your socks, choose fabrics that help your feet breathe and stay dry. If you want to keep your feet warm for running around town, consider layering acrylic and fleece socks. If you’re exercising in cold weather, look for socks that cushion your feet and keep them warm.

Your socks can contribute to good foot health. If you need help with anything else that’s foot-related, contact Shuman Podiatry & Sports Medicine.

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