While many think of them as just a normal part of the uniform of our lives, or as a protective barrier between our shoes and our feet, socks also play an important role in keeping our bodies warm and safe when the temperatures drop. Here's a quick look into why our socks matter, what materials to look for in a good sock, and our recommended sock styles.
Socks help promote blood flow to our feet
To start getting an understanding of how good socks help our feet, let's look at the effects of temperature. Our body uses our feet (as well as our hands) as essential tools to help regulate our body temperature. When we're hot, our blood vessels dilate and our feet and hands become a key way we get rid of excess heat so our body doesn't overheat. When we're cold, our vessels constrict, keeping our heat closer to our core and resulting in our feet feeling cold. By wearing socks and keeping our feet warm, we're promoting blood flow to our feet, which is essential for foot health, injury healing and more.
Socks protect our feet
Socks also protect our feet from things like blisters, corns and calluses through their protective and pressure-redistribution qualities. Sometimes, the rubbing may happen from two toes that are close together, and therefore rubbing against one another. In these cases, toe socks (see below) can help.
Socks absorb moisture
We have 125,000 sweat glands on the bottom of each foot. Extra moisture can cause painful blisters, nasty odours, as well as fungal infections. Socks pull this moisture into their fabric and away from the skin of the foot, so this is another way that socks keep our feet safe from unnecessary harm.
Sock material: What should you look for?
When selecting socks, especially in the winter season, the material you select matters. Winter socks can be made out of a mix of synthetic materials such as nylon and elastane, or a blend of natural fibres such as merino wool.
Synthetic materials: While thick wool socks used to be the go-to, they can be difficult to wear under tight boots. However, now there are more technical synthetic materials available, including thin thermal socks, so there are a wide range of choices for highly insulated socks.
Synthetic materials such as nylon can be combined with lycra or elastane in certain areas of the sock such as the arch or calf area, which is designed to give you better support and cushioning. In particular, lycra or elastane stretches to conform to the shape of your foot. Other fibres such as CoolMax®, polyester, and acrylic are also used to wick away moisture quickly to keep your feet dry and to prevent blisters from around your heel or toes.
Cotton: Cotton is generally best avoided when you are looking for winter socks. While cotton socks absorb sweat or moisture quickly, they can retain a third of their weight in dampness before the wet feeling on the feet starts, and are then very slow to dry. This can put you at risk of blisters, and cotton also loses all of its insulation when wet, exposing your feet to the elements.
Wool & Merino Wool: When it comes to finding the best socks to keep you warm, wool, and in particular merino wool, is one of the best options. Merino is lightweight, naturally odour-resistant, and keeps your feet dry while insulating to keep in the heat. It is incredibly breathable, repels water, and regulates its own temperature, so your feet will stay warm in winter and cool in summer. The other attractive feature of merino wool is that it does not cause scratching and itching, as other inferior and cheaply made woollen socks may do.
If you can afford it, go for a higher percentage of wool, to give you a higher level of warmth. However, if the sock is intended for sports or hiking, the manufacturer may occasionally mix the wool with nylon or some other synthetic fabric to enable it to withstand the abrasion against the inside of your shoes or boots.
Quick tips to help your socks last longer
To help get the most life and wear out of your socks, we recommend that you:
- Machine-wash the socks on a gentle cycle in warm or cool water, as hot water is more likely to damage the delicate fibres over time.
- Avoid bleach and harsh chemicals where possible. To keep your socks super soft, opt for a detergent that is specifically designed for washing woollen items.
- Don't tumble-dry your socks where possible. To maintain the sock's shape and elasticity, let the socks air dry naturally.
- Keep your toenails trimmed. Avoid breaking through the fabric and creating holes by keeping your nails smoothed and trimmed.
Our Top Sock Recommendations - Approved By Podiatrists
When it comes to socks, we can confidently say that there are some that are superior to others. Here are our top five picks for some of our favourite socks or sock brands.
1. Dr Comfort Socks
Much like their shoes, Dr Comfort put quality materials and quality design together to create their socks. Much of their range is fantastic for those with diabetes , with no seams in the socks that can leave indents in the foot or cause damage. They also have extra padding to help prevent swelling in legs, ankles and feet and encourage good circulation. Dr Comfort socks also have excellent moisture wicking and antimicrobial properties
We have Dr Comfort socks available in the No Show, Mary Jane, Quarter and Crew lengths.
2. Injinji Toe Socks
Injinji toe socks are anatomically designed to your foot, with a five-toe sleeve design which allows your toes to splay naturally and align properly. This enables greater stability and more comfort throughout your day. With each toe protected, skin-on-skin friction is completely eliminated protecting your foot from blisters and hot spots, and each toe is wrapped in sweat-wicking material so your foot will be drier and may feel warmer and more comfortable compared to traditional socks.
We have Injinji toe socks currently available from our clinic.
3. FS4 Socks
FS4 socks help prevent the onset of plantar fasciitis heel pain symptoms by providing their patented Compression Zone Technology®, which is designed to give proper foot support. These socks feature precise targeted compression levels and cushioning, and are ideal for people suffering from foot fatigue, and arch or heel pain. They are made from Merino Wool or Ultra-Soft Nylon, and are moisture-wicking, warm, durable and soft, while helping prevent odour.
We have FS4 socks currently available from our clinic.
4. Bunion Relief Socks by OS1st
Despite being called bunion relief socks, these socks are also fantastic in helping prevent toe friction between the first and second toes by gentline separating the toes as part of their mechanism to help relieve bunion pain. This is a first-of-its-kind sock design with a targeted bunion pad, with extra toe padding and an anatomical fit for the left and right feet.
We have the OS1st bunion relief socks currently available from our clinic.
5. Feetures Socks
Feetures socks are marketed as being "engineered for performance", which means that each sock style carefully considers the person that will be wearing them, their lifestyle and their goals, and takes this into account during the design and manufacture. We love that these socks come with a lifetime guarantee, and ensure your feet are kept cool and dry to help prevent blisters, hotspots or irritation to your skin.
We have the 'plantar fasciitis relief' Feetures socks currently available from our clinic.
6. Physiopod Socks
Physiopod socks are designed for feet that are prone to a range of problems, from swelling to circulation problems. They are well known for their comfort and the premium materials from which they are made. They are also breathable, durable and absorbent. Physiopod socks have a very fine toe seam, a comfort padded knitted sole and an unrestricted top.
We have the 'circulation' and 'non-slip' Physiopod socks currently available from our clinic.
Looking for the best socks for your feet this winter?
We're here to help. Alongside our podiatry clinic, we also have a retail store to help you find the best shoes and socks for your feet - no appointment needed. You can visit our shop at 5/13 Alford Street, Kingaroy QLD 4610, or give our team a call on (07) 4162 7633.