Socks are just as important as footwear, in the prevention of blisters..
The material of the sock really matters, as it needs to wick the moisture away from the skin. Cotton does not do this as this material holds the moisture next to the skin, which will increase the chances of blistering.
Fit is important as the sock does not need to ruck up in the shoe, so a snug fit is preferable.
No-blister running socks
Thickness matters. For a running event, a thinner sock is used in preference to a thicker one that you might use training. For trekking, endurance running and long distance a thicker sock is preferred.
Anti-blister athletic & endurance socks
Tough mudder is also an example of thinner socks as they need to drain quicker and release the water from the shoe and consequently the skin. But all have one thing in common and that is the ability to wick away moisture from the skin.
If you are training a lot, you will find the combination that works for you, rarely does any athlete get it right the first time around.
Which blister prevention socks should I choose?
That really depends on the activity that you do? For example – you wouldn’t wear the same sock for a mountaineering expedition than you would wear for an endurance run. When looking at what activity you like doing, think about the properties in a sock that you will need? It can be a bit overwhelming when looking for socks as there are so many brands and types to look through.
Armaskin Blister Prevention Socks
ArmaSkin anti-blister second skin socks (liner socks) address all the conditions that cause blisters:
The inner surface of the sock has a silicone (Si) polymer friction coating which gently adheres to the skin and PREVENTS any FRICTION that can occur naturally between socks and skin. Any friction generated in the boot/shoe is absorbed by the outer fabric.
The polymer coating is macro porous and hydrophobic (water hating) therefore SHIFTS MOISTURE away from the skin keeping it drier.
Better HEAT dissipation is achieved thanks to the hydrophobic/ hydrophilic moisture management. i.e one side of the fabric is water hating the other side is water loving.
The Si fusion polymer coating gently adheres to the skin and importantly shares skin shear forces across wider surface areas of skin thus reducing damage.
In addition the Silicon fusion polymer is bacteria static so the socks can be worn for prolonged periods of time. Wash them with your normal clothes but avoid using bleach, fabric softener or sending them to the dry cleaners. If you are concerned that your hike or run could be ruined by blisters then ArmaSkin anti-blister liner socks should be THE FIRST THING you put on your feet.
To keep it simple, there are a few pointers I can advise on, to make the job of purchasing a little bit easier.
Natural fibres to help reduce moisture
Aim for socks that have Merino wool or Coolmax in them. These materials are able to wick moisture away from the skin keeping the skin as dry as possible. This is because when moisture is present on the skin it can causative factor for blisters. Cotton socks retain the water rather than wicking it away, which will create a moist skin environment that will in turn lead to the formation of blisters.
Thinner vs. thicker socks?
Thickness of the sock – Some socks are thinner than others, these are usually worn for race days there are socks with a thicker cushioning underneath, this provides more shock absorption to the bottom of the foot and are aimed at walking, trail running, trekking and mountaineering activities. As you age, the natural fat deposit under the balls of the foot move towards the “webbing” of the toes and leaves the joints less protected from pressure from the ground, so a thicker cushioning underneath the sock would be more welcome here. If you are doing a tough mudder then a thicker sock will hold more water and not drain as well as a thinner sock. Your chosen activity will dictate the thickness underneath.
Snug fitting socks to reduce blister formation
The fit of a sock must be snug without being too loose or too tight. If the fit is too tight, the sock itself will cause pressure, especially around the toes, the sock can push the toes together resulting in blisters. If the fit is too loose, the sock will move too much and ruck up in the shoe, creating an increase in friction and pressure on the skin, leading to blisters. The seams of the sock are equally important, any socks you choose should have blended seams that you cannot feel or really see. These seams do not cause any pressure hotspots. Most socks are already pre-shrunk so the fit will be good from the first time of wearing them. Some socks have a dedicated left and right, the sock is graduated from the big toe to the little toe and some are gender specific too. This is really `horses for courses` scenario and it is best to try and see what works for you. Do not wear new socks for a major event or race, use your existing training socks.
Best socks for walking and ski-ing
Length – This again depends on your activity of choice. Walkers tend to like a crew length to just below the knee as their books come above the ankle and gaiters can go up to below the knee, therefore the sock provide protection and comfort to those areas. The same applies to skiers as their footwear comes up higher up the leg, so they prefer the longer sock length.
Be aware that particular brands may define the height or length of the sock differently.
Best socks for running
Runners like the short, no show socks, for road racing but crew length for running off road where debris may get into the shorter socks, causing blisters. When in training the longer, below the knee, compression socks are great for improved post exertion recovery.
Waterproof socks for outdoor activities
This subject is difficult as it mainly depends on what activity you are participating in, weather conditions and, the duration of the activity. The reason for this quandary is, that if the sock is waterproof and protects your skin from the wet environment on the outside but your feet are sweating from exertion on the inside, the sweat will stay next to the skin and could lead to blistering. The length of time exercising will be a contributing factor because there will be a cut off time to when the waterproof sock is helping to prevent the external water from getting to the foot as opposed to when the sweat released next to the skin becomes worse than the external water.
Best socks for cycling and mountaineering
But if you are cycling and it is raining in a colder environmental temperature then the socks will be great and do the job of keeping the foot nice and dry as would mountaineering in cold and snowy circumstances. Sadly there is no “magic wand” scenario on this subject, as each set of circumstances are different! Some Ultra-runners cut holes in their shoes and wear thin socks, so the water can drain out of the shoe, which is fine if you are just competing in a one or two day event and have the ability to change your socks and shoes at the end of the day.
Best socks for military, security guards and armed forces
But in some circumstances ie the armed forces when on manoeuvres for days, cutting holes in the shoes is not an option but drying shoes, socks and feet over night is crucial to preventing macerated blistered feet. So, as you can see working something out for your set of circumstances of activities is key to remaining as dry and blister free as possible.
How many socks should I wear?
One sock or two? If you don’t have blisters on your feet then one sock will do, however if you do struggle with blisters then two socks are part of a friction reduction strategy to prevent them. Usually a thin liner will do and your usual wicking sock over that. Armaskin socks are a brilliant liner sock for all over the foot blisters and the Injinji have their own liner for the toe blister problems
Why did I choose Darn Tough and Injinji Socks for the Blisterhelp website?
I have used Darn tough socks for years as I like to walk a lot with my dogs in an environment that is sometime challenging for weather and terrain, I find my feet move around in the walking boots especially downhill which creates a lot of friction under the ball of my feet, so I prefer the soft cushioning under the soles of the feet that darn tough socks can provide which prevents that problem for me. In the summer they keep my feet cool and in the winter warm and since I live in the North Yorkshire Moors, we can usually have four seasons in a day!! There are other socks that provide the wicking properties needed to prevent blisters but I just prefer Darn Tough every time, plus they are guaranteed for life,if you are not satisfied with them just send them back. In this day and age, I like that customer service, not that I have ever had the need to.
Injinji socks are relatively new to me and I wasn’t sure if I would get on with the toe sock bit? I, like many others growing up in the seventies had a very fashionable novelty rainbow pair to my knees! But then they would have been made quite of different materials and were a little warm and uncomfortable, so, being a little unsure of Injinji, I gave them a go. I couldn’t have been more wrong, I do love them and go to work in them every day! They really do make such a difference to the blister prevention strategy around and in between the toes and if you are not a fan of merino wool then the coolmax properties of Injinji are a great alternative, I know runners that don’t have a problem with blistered toes but prefer to run in Injinji socks anyway!