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 a definite yes!
The foot is a highly sophisticated and complex structure with 26 bones, 33 joints, more than 250,000 sweat glands which release about a cup of sweat every day, and over 200,000 nerve endings. The feet have more bones, sweat glands and nerve endings per square centimetre than any other part of the body, making them both highly sensory and sensitive.
Amazing right? Socks help to look after your feet and with different textures and fibres available today, this article discusses styles of socks along with the benefits of different fibres.
The benefits of wearing the right kind of socks
Socks provide protection, moisture control, temperature regulation, comfort and health benefits.
Blisters occur when shoes rub against the foot causing friction. Socks provide protection by adding a layer between the shoe and your foot, easing friction and preventing blisters. Today’s socks also have cushioned soles and padding to provide even more padding and support. For sports, outdoor or any other high impact activity, socks fit for this purpose are ideal, but can also be worn every day for people who like extra cushioning.
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, for example wool and bamboo are natural fibres that will absorb moisture away from the foot. However cotton will absorb moisture and stay damp and heavy, drying slowly, not so good for sweaty feet that are working all day. Today there are many blend of natural fibres and nylon specifically made with moisture wicking properties and with the added benefit of being quick drying.
The humble sock has evolved considerably. Today there are socks with arch support, heel contours, cushioned soles, cushioned toes, loose tops, compression socks, and more. For anyone on their feet all day, socks with supportive cushioning can help to reduce aching feet. Manufacturers of socks are now paying attention to fashion as well as comfort, there are many options available now at reasonable so do your research and buy socks fit for purpose and comfort.
Less foot odour
Wool and bamboo are proven to reduce the amount of bacteria that form on the feet. The benefit of woollen undergarments and socks are well known by outdoor adventurers and bamboo has also proven its resilience and comfort over the years. The antibacterial properties of bamboo have been shown in research by Deakin University who found that bacteria had a 70% higher death rate on bamboo fibres!
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
Sock manufacturers are creating all sorts of socks for work, outdoor, health and medical, wellness and for lounging around the house.
Compression socks have extra elastic fibres that apply gentle pressure to your legs and ankles to 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.
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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. People with diabetes often lose sensation in their feet so it is important to wear cushioned socks to protect the feet, and to regularly check the feet for cuts or ulcers that may have occurred during the day.
Cushioned socks – for extra support
Socks today come with arch support, cushioned heels, toes and soles, as well as sole support for the left and right feet. If you are on your feet all day, then experiment with socks that support your feet better. Manufacturers today will make socks with support to easily fit shoes, with cushioning and padding in areas that allow you to wear your shoes comfortably without feeling too tight.
If you’re a tradie on your feet all day, a hiker, outdoors adventurer, or just someone who likes a little extra comfort on their feet, then research socks with padding in the places you most want.
Related article: Are you and Adelaide Tradie on your feet all day?
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.
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. As mentioned above in this article, the antibacterial properties of bamboo have been shown in research by Deakin University who found that bacteria had a 70% higher death rate on bamboo fibres!
Cotton socks – not so good at moisture wicking
Cotton socks are wonderful for everyday wear for light activities. 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.
Let the team at Sanders Podiatry help you maintain foot health for the long term
The podiatry team at Sanders Podiatry look after the feet of young and old, helping to keep feet in good health for the long term. We offer treatment and advice for sports people, children, people with medical conditions and ageing feet. We can assess your walking style while you’re at the clinic to offer the best advice for socks and shoes. We offer treatment for a range of conditions.
Related article: The 10 most common foot problems we treat in our podiatry clinics
Make an appointment and pop into one of our three clinics below for a consultation.