How To Choose A Running Sock


Running Sock Rack



Today there are many choices for selection of running socks.  They come in a variety of colors, styles, fabric material used, thick or thin.  This article will discuss the different types of running socks, fabric material used, and whether to choose a thick or thin sock.

Runners know how important it is to have the best shoes for their training needs and foot support.   However, many don’t realize the importance of wearing the best  running socks.  While choosing proper shoes is of top priority, runners should never underestimate the importance of wearing the right socks. Wearing the wrong socks when running can turn a great run into a great big blister.

Choosing the best socks when running is essential for keeping the feet in tip top shape. Choosing the best running socks for your feet can extend the lifetime of the  sock to ensure a better running experience.   Most running socks are made of pure cotton, which allows allows sock companies to create and manufacture cotton socks in astronomical numbers.   But, due to the advances in technology as a whole, cotton socks are affordable for everyone.

Today newer more advanced materials are used for running socks in order to wick away the moisture and cool the feet.

When choosing a running sock, there are four categories of running socks.


1.  Running Sock Categories

When choosing to purchase a running sock, there are four main categories of running socks.  They are the No Show, Low Show, Knee High, and Compression.  Basically each category describes their sock height except for the compression.


Running Socks Categories












No Show

The No Show is the lowest sock height available.  It offers little to no sock appearance above the heel collar of the running shoe.  Some people like these socks since you can't see them.

Low Show

The Low Show offers a modest rise above the shoes heel collar and usually stops at the middle of the anklebone.  This sock can be seen just above the collar of the running shoe.

Knee High

The knee high socks height is just below the knee and covers the entire lower leg.


The last category is the newest running sock which is the compression socks.  These socks are knee high and offer the best performance for a runner.


Importance of Running Socks

Any runner who has developed a blister anywhere on his or her foot during a run will gladly explain the importance of wearing good socks.  Blisters are caused by moisture and friction, and wearing socks that take moisture away from the skin and lessen the amount of friction created inside the shoe can prevent these nasty blisters from appearing.  Wearing the correct running socks helps make the run that more enjoyable.


Choosing the Best Running Socks

In the last thirty years, there have been advancements in the designs of socks that has allowed runners to move away from the standard cotton socks that runners once had no choice to wear.  Today there are many different kinds of socks to choose from.  It is important for any runner to do his or her homework before shopping for socks to ensure the socks purchased will perform their best for the runner.



Cotton socks is the most common type of fabric used for socks today and thirty years ago, but that has changed as sock manufacturers have started using other fabrics such as polyester, acrylic, and nylon. For runners, a cotton acrylic blend is fine, but it is important not to get socks that are 100 percent cotton.  Cotton socks tend to absorb perspiration and cause blisters on the runner’s feet.

Running Socks

  There are 3 main categories of running sock fabrics that are used in the manufacturer of running socks:   Synthetic Fibers, Natural Fibers, and Cotton.



Synthetic Fibers
Polyester, Acrylic, Nylon, Lycra Spandex

Running socks are made from a blend of synthetic fibers.   The fibers are made from polyester, acrylic, nylon, and lycra spandex.    They are the best option for those who reside in warmer climates and the sock usually is thinner than thicker natural fiber socks.  Thorlo Running Sock

The synthetic socks are wicking socks that are ideal for runners as they are woven from materials that which work well to wick the moisture away from your feet.   This gives more comfort to the runner and less irritation to the skin.

Look for patented blends like CoolMax, DryFit, DryMax, Lycra, or olefin.

For example, Thorlo manufacturers a Thorlo Experia CoolMax Micro running sock.  It is composed of 79% polyester and 21% nylon.

Another, example Brooks Infiniti - Low Show sock offers a running sock which has 96% Nylon and 4% Lycra Spandex.

Therefore, choose a running sock which has blend of these synthetic fibers:  polyester, CoolMax, DryFit, DryMax, Nylon, and/or Lycra Spandex.


Recommended Synthetic Socks:

Asics Kayano Classic Low Cut
Balega Blister Resist Sock
Feetures! Elite Ultra Light No Show
New Balance Enhanced Cool Low Cut
Nike Dri-FIT Elite Cushion No-Show
Thorlo Mens/Womens micro mini-crew
Thorlo Experia
WigWam Venti Pro Low Cut


Smart Wool (Natural Fibers)

The natural fibers running socks category are made from natural materials such as Smartwool Running Sockcotton, wool and synthetics.   This gives more comfort to the runner and less irritation to the skin.  Look for Smartwool patented sock.

For runners who live in colder climates, SmartWool socks are an ideal option as the wool-nylon blend aids in wicking moisture away while still keeping the runner’s feet warm.

But runners buy these running socks for summer running since the wool has good wicking properties.   Usually, the summer smart wool running socks have a lower blend of merino wool (5%-35%).

It is important that material wick moisture away thus giving the skin protection inside the shoe.

For example, Wigwam Trail Trax Pro Sock offer a great summer running sock which has a blend of these fibers:  49% - polyester, 35% - Stretch Nylon, 14% - Merino Wool, 2% - Lycra Spandex



100% Cotton socks are typically less expensive than any other material, but for runners they can cause some itching due to the perspiration.  This happens because the cotton socks do not take away the sweat thus the socks cling to the skin which can cause redness and itching as well as irritation that could cause blisters.  Cotton athletic socks don’t control moisture very well, which they do the opposite, cotton socks absorb moisture .  It is recommended not to use 100% cotton socks for running.



The thickness of a running sock and the amount of cushioning varies from brand to brand.  Your choice of a 5k or a marathon sock depends ultimately on your particular foot type.  Certain socks provide more padding in the arch and are appropriate for those with high arches.  Other socks offer thickness at the heel or toe bed to emphasize stabilization and discourage pronation or supination.  Certain socks feature padded power bands that help to make the sock fit better to your foot, preventing movement of the sock within the shoe.

I believe in a well cushioned sock since it can lessen the impact resistance on your body.  If shopping for a cushioned running sock, look for padding on the heel and on the ball of the foot for added cushioning and protection.   Be sure the amount of padding does not make your shoe too tight.  Padding is created either by increasing the density of the weave in those areas, or in some cases by weaving long-wearing materials like acrylic into those areas.   This extra padding can be a real foot-saver on hard trips over rough terrain.



When it comes down to it, thickness is really a preference.   I personally prefer a thicker sock that breaths well and keeps my feet cushioned for my longer runs.   I like the added cushioned feel to help with the foot when it impacts the ground.  Thick socks help relieve the pounding on your feet and add dense cushioning for impact resistance.

For others, thin is the way to go.  A thinner sock will have much less cushioning and will keep the foot dryer especially in more humidity conditions.   Also, a thinner sock weighs less and can improve your performance.

So when shopping for running socks, decide whether you prefer thin or thicker socks.  Sometimes, you might need a combination of both thin and thick socks for your different running shoes.



If you’re in the market for new running socks, pair them up with your running shoes.  Choose the thickness of your running socks with your existing or new shoes.

When shopping for new running shoes, make sure you bring your favorite running socks with you. Try the new running shoes on with your running socks to make sure they match up well.  Don’t be fooled by trying on new shoes with your street (or dress) socks.  If you do, the shoes may not fit well with your running socks.  Almost all running stores have running socks to try on with new shoes.



The best running socks are those which are made from synthetic materials such as polyester, acrylic, and nylon as they wick away moisture providing more protection for the runner’s feet.  Padding in the heel and ball of the foot provides added cushioning, which is a nice feature for high-impact activities such as running.  When runners are shopping for socks, it is important to accurately assess which socks are best to keep the feet dry, protected, healthy, and comfortable.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 + 4 =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>