We all know a little bit of sock advice. For instance, when walking for an extended period of time across a desert it is important to wear 2 pairs of socks. The double duty will guard against blistering and help absorb sweat (we also know that if you are in the woods starving and you come across a stream, catch a fish and eat the eye first they have the most nutrition…but that’s not really fashion advice … and it’s gross). But we don’t live in the desert, and we’re on the paleo diet so fish is out, so what do we do when we have every day sock questions? We Ask The Expert obviously. We’ve got 3 great questions from our readers with 3 great answers from the expert.
Mark from Phoenix, Ariz. — Dear Underwear Expert, you are cute. What’s your number?
Whoa! Take it easy, Mark. I’m totally flattered, but this is a serious conversation about socks. Do you have a sock question? Do you want to sock it to me? See, now you’ve got me all bashful and foolish!
Susan from Hannibal, Mo. — Dear Underwear Expert, my husband just got back into jogging and doesn’t have enough athletic socks. I went to the store but there are athletic socks, performance socks, running socks, and compression socks. I don’t know what to pick? HELP!
Great question, Susan. How appropriate you’re from Hannibal, Mo. — the home of Shoeless Joe — and have a question. It’s almost too good to be true. When it comes to athletic socks, yes, there are a lot to choose from. So let’s start from the most specific to the most versatile.
Compression socks are designed with health in mind. If you’ve pulled a muscle or are recuperating from an injury, a pair of compression socks can speed up the healing process remarkably. These are generally full calf socks that rest below the knee. They’re made from any number of high-quality synthetic materials that provide compression around the calf and ankle. Because of their tight fit and synthetic design, they tend to wick moisture away nicely. They might not be the best for running as they tend to provide only a little cushion.
You can expect an athletic sock to have a high calf, a well designed heel cup, and a shaped toe. Think tennis player or neighborhood jogger in the mid 80’s. Athletic socks commonly come in basic colors, but they can have a flash or two of color in various areas for some fashionable charm. Performance socks are quite similar with a few stand out features. They often extend no further than the lower calf. The heel cup and toe are still there, but the addition of ribbing along the arch of the foot creates a stronger sock that is more inclined to respond well to strong lateral movement. Both athletic socks and performance socks are made most often from cotton and help give the ball and heel of the foot a good cushion inside your shoe.
The running sock is designed exactly for what you’d expect: running. That doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best sock for every runner, though. Running socks often contain a cupped heel, a strong toe, and ribbing at the arch. They’re usually designed with a low top, usually just below the bones of the ankle. This means less wet material after a long run and decreased possibility of stretching. But it also can mean less support, and on a long run that can be very noticeable.
Hope that helps you Susan. Check out the gallery below for a few examples of the different socks we’re talking about.