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Why Are Socks So Important To Good Foot Health?

Another week, another highly informative Podiatry blog just for you dear reader. You’re welcome!

I’m going to cover a topic today that we don’t often discuss on the website but we cover daily in our consultations, particularly during the cooler weather. I’m talking of course, about socks.

Are socks really that important for good foot health? If you’re wearing closed shoes for long hours, or if you have circulation concerns, the answer is absolutely yes.

Did you know that your feet release about a cup worth of moisture per day? Disgusting but amazing right? Did you know that if you aren’t wearing a sock, this moisture stays on your skin or gets absorbed into the material on the inside of your shoe (which is why wearing shoes without socks often leads to smelly footwear – but I’ll cover that more in another blog).  Your socks help to look after your feet and with so many different textures and fibres available today, you could be forgiven for being overwhelmed when trying to purchase a humble sock. How do you know which sock is right for you? Is there a right sock or a wrong sock? I’ll cover some of that for you in this article.

Why wearing the right sock is important

Socks provide your feet with protection, moisture control, temperature regulation, and comfort.

Protection

Socks provide protection by adding a layer between the shoe and your foot, easing friction and preventing blisters. Modern socks also have cushioned soles and padding to provide even more comfort.

Moisture control

The feet release moisture through sweat every day, which ends up sitting in the shoe and causing the skin on your feet to become water logged. This is both uncomfortable and unhealthy for your feet as it can lead to fungus growing and blisters occurring. Socks made of the right fibres will absorb excess moisture. Bamboo and wool are great examples of this as they are both natural fibres which absorb excessive moisture from your foot. An example of a not-so-great moisture control sock, but is still highly popular is the cotton sock.

Comfort

Socks today are a lot more advanced than the old days. They’re a little bit fancy with features and advanced technology in the fibres for quick drying or anti-odour. There are also socks with arch support, heel contours, cushioned soles, cushioned toes, loose tops, compression socks, and more. These features are generally also reflected in the purchase price.

Odour reducing

Wool and bamboo are proven to reduce the amount of odour releasing bacteria from the foot. Bamboo also has the advanced advantage of being highly antibacterial, particularly when interwoven with a silver.  The benefit of woollen socks are well known by outdoor adventurers and bamboo has also proven its resilience and comfort over the years.

If you are prone to smelly feet, reconsider your socks and find natural fibres or blended fibres with moisture wicking and anti-bacterial properties. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how the right fibres can reduce foot odour.

Types of socks available today

Compression socks

Compression socks have a latex or spandex component that adds additional elasticity to the sock to help promote blood flow to your heart and prevent your feet and ankles from swelling. They help to boost circulation and reduce the incidence of blood clots and varicose veins. They can also be used in the case of acute swelling from an ankle or foot injury if necessary.

Diabetic socks

Something I will discuss with patients weekly is the diabetic sock. You obviously don’t need to be diabetic to wear them or purchase them but the features in them are highly ideal for diabetics or anyone who has circulatory issues and finds their normal socks are cutting into the skin too much causing pain and wounds. Diabetes socks are specially designed with looser tops, fitting well around the foot and ankle without being too tight so that blood circulation is maintained and supported. They have moisture-wicking properties to keep the feet dry and warm.

Wool socks – anti-bacterial

Wool is an exceptional insulating fibre and can absorb one third of its weight in moisture. With natural anti-bacterial properties, wool is also resilient and ideal for many hours or even days of wear at work and the outdoors. The one prohibitive factor with woollen socks for the average person is that it can be a little pricey when compared to the other styles on the market. Before you turn away and look at the cheaper variety you should know that you get a lot of bang for your buck with these because they are so resilient, compared to other socks they have almost twice the life span of a cheaper sock in addition to the other features.

Bamboo socks – soft and resilient, keeping feet dry

Bamboo is a resilient fibre, has natural antibacterial properties and will keep your feet dry. If you prefer a softer feel, then bamboo is an excellent choice for work and the outdoors. These socks are increasing in popularity and if you’re environmentally conscious are known to be highly sustainable. They have come down in price considerably over the last few years due to their popularity and now that we know the features for socks have been so ideal, manufacturers are also creating undergarments like singlets and underpants with bamboo.

Cotton socks – not so good at moisture wicking

Cotton socks are wonderful for everyday wear for light activities. You’re probably wearing them right now. And why wouldn’t you be? Cheap, comfy, and easily replenished at the supermarket if need be, cotton is a very popular choice for a reason. However, when cotton gets wet, it doesn’t dry quickly and your feet can stay wet all day. We suggest avoiding cotton socks if you have any problems with foot pain, fungus, blisters and generally sweaty or smelly feet. Opt for bamboo, wool, or a blended fibre instead.

So there you have it. There is a little more to the simple sock than meets the eye. Once just a simple bit of cloth to wear in your shoe, they have evolved into a highly specialised garment that can enhance or improve your health or well-being simply by being worn in the right circumstances.

Have a wonderful week,

Scott

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