The Best Running Socks

The Best Running Socks


A blister.

A wrinkle.

My shoe “ate” my sock. 

All in the middle of a race. 

Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?

It’s not that hard to avoid.



Goldilocks might say … “Not too big, not too small, just right.” 

I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but sometimes there isn’t a ‘just right.’ 

What if your foot falls “just right” in between two sizes? 

If faced with this dilemma, get the socks in the larger size.  

Why?  There are two really good reasons.  

The socks might shrink a bit. 
When the sock is too small, it may squeeze your toes together and / or cause your toes to curl.   Either scenario increases the chance of a blister, pressure upon your toenails, blood under a toenail, a toenail dropping off – stop me if you’ve heard enough.  Enough?  Better to have a small amount of extra room.  (If you can fit both feet into the same sock, assume you got carried away.)



Ped socks are what you wear to a party to look cool but still have the benefit of a sock lining your foot. 

They can be too small for running because:  The collar of the shoe may rub against your skin. 

The shoe is more likely to “eat” your sock; i.e., the sock may slip off your foot and begin to slide into your shoe.  Not such a big deal under casual circumstances, not so great while running. 

Quarter socks are mid-way between ped and crew length.  These may work out fine.  Or, they may not.  Personally, I do not to take a chance in order to save a fraction of an ounce in weight.

Crew socks come up higher than the first two.  There is more contact with your skin, hence, more friction. They are less likely to slide into the shoe.  It is the same reason that I triple knot my shoes:  A small price to pay for the extra insurance.



This category includes threads not coming apart and adequate (without strangulating your ankles)  elastic at the top of the sock. 

The most important feature is producing a sock without thick and misplaced seams that are guaranteed to create a blister. 

On the other hand, the type of weave of the socks can play a part in reducing blisters.

Years ago, double-walled (i.e. two layers) socks were very helpful to avoid friction while running.  Some socks with this construction became a bit twisted after 5 – 10 washes. 

Modern construction makes double layer less essential, but the concept still has merit. 

Soldiers wearing a thin inner layer and a thicker outer layer developed fewer blisters when marching.



I will give away the ending by summarizing now:  Not Cotton. 

But all those great commercials – and they are GREAT commercials!  Surely they would not mislead us. 

Well, in case of running socks, cotton is NOT good.  It absorbs sweat – but it doesn’t let it go. 

It is better for the material (e.g. acrylic, polypropylene, polyester) to transmit the sweat outward, and not hold all that moisture against your skin.  Wool may have some benefits during cold weather.



Lastly, are socks really helpful? 

The answer for longer distance runners is “yes.” 

Socks not only reduce friction between skin and the shoe, but the weave and thickness of the sock actually can reduce compression forces. 

They help reduce moisture buildup in the lining of the sole, thereby reducing odor.  That could save your dog’s life

As Goldie Hawn used to say on Laugh-In … “sock it to me.”


Dr. Goldstein is a podiatrist who is Board certified by the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, the American Board of Podiatric Medicine, and a Fellow of the American Society of Podiatric Surgeons.  He is a member of the American Podiatric Medical Association and the American Society of Podiatric Sports Medicine.  He has run about 33 marathons; if his brain had not bounced up and down so much he could probably remember exactly how many, but at least he does not get many blisters, and his dog is grateful.


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