Cotton socks should be avoided at all costs

Be smarter than Carl. Don't wear cotton socks.

Christina Morrow / Run Camp Series - Vol. 3

Carl wore cotton socks. Carl’s feet blistered terribly. Carl no longer wears cotton socks.

Here’s another story for you. It’s about a guy named Carl. Carl has been going to the gym for years and running the occasional 5k. For all his gym-going and 5k-running, Carl has always worn the same old socks (he got like 50 pairs for $15 at Costco a few years back. It takes a strong person to resist a deal like that. Plus, the free samples and $2 giant slice of pizza had lulled him into a trance-like buying state. He just kept putting things in his cart. He can’t be blamed. Anyway.) Now Carl is training for a marathon. And thanks to the accountability his new training group brought him, he finds himself out for a long group run on a rainy Saturday. He also found himself feeling some friction and then pain in his feet, more specifically in his arch and a couple toes. Because he lifts weights, Carl powered through the pain (this was his second mistake). His first, I’m sure you can guess, was his cotton socks. When Carl took his damp shoes off and peeled off his sodden socks, what he found was not pretty. Blood, blisters and all things gory, plus a week off for healing up, could all have been avoided with some different socks.

Saving your feet can be as simple as putting on the right pair of socks.

Cotton is a big no-no for runners, both in sock form and for apparel in general. Once cotton gets wet, it stays wet. It absorbs something like 50% of moisture, whether that comes from sweat or rain or slush, and just holds on to it right there next to you skin. This causes blisters and all sorts of uncomfortable abrasion and chafing. No bueno. What you want is a synthetic blend of fibers or wool garments that effectively wick sweat and other moisture away from the body. Running-specific socks are also designed to protect and support your foot beyond just moisture control. Most of them are woven to provide support around the arch and many offer different levels of cushioning on top of what your shoe is providing. Others have multiple layers of fabric that further eliminate friction, since the layers slide against each other instead of your skin. It’s a bright world of non-cotton socks out there. Come on in to your local Gazelle Sports and let us show you the light!

Read more about the importance of running socks >>

Christina Morrow / Run Camp Series - Vol. 2