It used to be we’d just buy casual socks and dress socks. Now, modern technology is giving us stretchy knit wonders that go beyond looks to help with foot health. Let’s look at some of the sock categories that have changed.
Athletic socks. Today’s top-notch sports socks supply shock absorption and help prevent blisters through targeted cushioning of the heel and ball of foot and a fit that doesn’t slip. They also fight foot wetness and odors.
Look for synthetic fiber blends including acrylic, nylon, spandex and polyester (and maybe synthetic-wool blends for hiking boots in cooler climes). Synthetics such as acrylics wick perspiration away from the foot, while silver or copper woven into polyester blends discourage bacteria and foot odor. Stretch nylon and spandex help with fit.
You can find athletic socks that are specially designed for stop-start sports like tennis along with styles for running, walking and hiking.
Compression socks. These have several names, including graduated compression socks, support socks, TED hoses and travel socks. What they do is “hug” the foot, ankle and calf to increase pressure on the veins, which assists in returning blood to the heart more efficiently.
Many people wear them and for many different reasons. Workers who have to stand all day, travelers who have to sit all day, surgical patients and others who experience swollen feet and ankles from inactivity or impaired circulation often wear compression socks.
Compression starts out very snug at the bottom of the garment and gradually loosens at the top. It might sound a little constraining, but if you get the right size and put them on properly, the pressure is so even that they will not bind in any one spot.
And to continue the good news, compression socks look like any other sock for work, play or special occasion. They are not your grandmother’s support hose!
Diabetic socks. People with diabetes can’t afford to wear anything that will worsen circulation. The rule is to avoid any sock that will leave an impression on foot, ankle or leg and to do this, we embrace seamless construction and a gentle cross stretch that doesn’t bind or bunch. Sometimes diabetics prefer 100% cotton socks, but often cotton blended with a stretch nylon works better for fit.
Whenever you see the word “roomy,” it usually means a little more space, give and stretch through the calves to prevent tightness in that area.
You can find diabetic-friendly socks for every activity including casual wear, athletics and work.
Work socks. Work or duty socks are similar to athletic socks in that most have targeted zones of cushioning for shock absorption and use synthetic yarns to combat foot perspiration and odors.
Some work socks combine the properties of the high-tech synthetics with natural wool for warmth. Others provide water-repelling properties (through Drymax or other olefin additions), circulation-enhancing graduated compression or diabetic-friendly construction. You will also find stay-put socks with thin crew shins if you need boot socks.
In other words, your choices have also expanded greatly in the work arena.
A Little More
Check out this article on yoga-inspired gripper socks for some other choices!