Nothing ruins a good walk like a blister. Blisters are fluid filled sores often caused by friction. While there are many ways to get a blister, these painful, sores can pop up anywhere your skin is rubbed repeatedly. The good news is that you can say goodbye to friction blisters if you reduce or eliminate the friction.
Many times, ill-fitting shoes—ones that are too tight, too lose, or too new—are to blame. But an ill-fitting pair of socks made of the wrong material can have similar effects on your feet. In the case of blisters, cotton can often act as an enemy. It stays wet, it bunches up, and can be abrasive to the skin.
But not all socks are bad. There are socks that can help prevent blisters—some even guarantee it.
Made from synthetic materials such as acrylic, polyester or spandex, these socks pull or wick moisture away from the foot, keeping it cool and dry. This reduces friction that can come with a sweaty shoe. Basic synthetic socks are usually the thinnest option when choosing blister-prevention socks.
These socks are made up of a synthetic layer on the inside that keeps the foot dry. They also have an outside layer that reduces friction. Why is this important? The two layers combined, work together in a manner so, the two layers rub against each other instead of rubbing against your feet.
Socks with padding also wick moisture away from the foot but have extra cushioning to reduce impact and friction on specific areas. For those with blisters, dense padding in the ankle can offer extra protection. If you choose padded socks, be sure to wear them with shoes that aren’t too tight.
No matter what type of sock you choose, be sure to follow these simple rules:
1. No wear, no tear. Don’t wear socks that have holes or are worn thin. Blisters love to form where there’s no barrier between the foot and shoe.
2. Make sure you’re covered. The sock can only help if it’s covering the skin. Notice where you most often get blisters and make sure you choose the right sock height to cover that area.
3. Switch it up. Even the best sock needs to be changed. If your socks get wet, be it from rain or sweat, change them to avoid friction between your wet sock and your wet skin.
4. Take them for a test drive. Before going on any long walks, wear your new socks on a short walk around the block. This will help ensure the socks don’t rub you the wrong way.
Foot & Ankle Center of Washington: “Socks”
Mayo Clinic: “Blister First Aid”
About.com: “Blister Prevention – Sock Strategy”
The Walking Site: “How to Prevent Chafing and Blisters”
About.com: “Socks to Battle Blisters”
New York Daily News: “Running Doc: To Avoid Blisters, Get the Proper…”