Wearing the right socks and shoes

Some of us pay hundreds of dollars for our athletic shoes. Did you know you could still be shortchanging your feet if you don’t wear the right socks?

The right sock!

The right sock is just as important as your shoes. Active feet sweat and sweat soaked socks produce unpleasant odors, increasing the chances of blisters, infection and risk of injury by slippage. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you’re buying sport socks.

Buy synthetics like Orlon for softness and speedy drying, nylon for endurance and propylene for quick drying. 100 percent cotton and wool are not good sport socks because they absorb sweat but don’t dry quickly. Cotton-synthetic blends are a good choice if you like the comfort of the natural fibers. The only exception to this is wet or cold hiking. 100 percent wool is the only fiber that stays warm even when soaked.

If your socks don’t fit, don’t wear them!

You should wear socks a quarter-inch wider and a half-inch longer than your foot. Generally, buy socks two sizes larger than your shoe size to allow for shrinkage. But remember socks that are too roomy will blister your feet. You can just forget tube socks, they don’t fit anyone. Stretch socks are out, too, they almost always fit too tight. You should buy new sports socks at least every 8 to 12 months because the 26 bones in your foot shift and spread with age. This means last year’s socks won’t fit. If you gain or lose weight, you should buy new socks. If you have a question about you sock size have a store salesperson check your size.

Don’t wear dirty socks!

You should wear clean socks for every workout because sweat and grime can aggravate blisters. Washing your socks helps them hold their shape and machine drying improves theirs shock-absorption potential. When washing your socks don’t use bleaches, perfumed detergents, water softener, presoaks, fabric softeners and antistatic sprays. You’ll never get all the chemicals out of your sock, so when you sweat you’ll activate these chemicals in your socks, and they in turn will irritate your feet. Wash your socks in a mild detergent. When your socks begin to lose their shape, use them when you’re not active. If your socks develop holes kiss them goodbye because mending will cause blisters.

If your feet sweat

Sweating is a natural function of the body, so don’t use powders, creams or deodorants to stop your feet from sweating. Your socks can help with keeping your feet dry. A tip a number of walkers and runners use is to wear two pair of socks. Your inner sock should be made of polypropylene. The outer sock should be made of wool. The polyproplenene sock acts as a wick drawing the moisture to the outside sock. The outer sock then absorbs the moisture keeping your feet relatively dry.

The shoes

While cross-training shoes have improved over the years, I would not do heavy lifting in the same shoes I’d use for running or walking. Heavy lifting in your running or walking will destroy the cushioning in the shoe that absorbs the force you put on your feet as you walk or run. According to Walking magazine, you should buy a running/walking shoe that has polyurethane a midsole that will give you addled support and more durability.

For lifting weights chose a shoe designed for weightlifting. These shoes have a stiffer upper than a regular running or walking shoe. The weightlifting shoe also has a stable heel, which will help if you have weak ankles.

Keep in mind an expensive shoe doesn’t mean you’re getting good quality. Make sure you try the shoe on with the type of sock you’ll be wearing during your exercise. Remember shoes are just as important as the sport.

Shoe selection tips

Bring your orthotics if you wear them.

Know your foot type, and look for shoes that offer appropriate support.

Look for shoes with cushioning for shock absorption, and make sure they bend at the ball of the foot.

Shop in the afternoon, when the feet are slightly swollen.

Wear your sport socks when trying on shoes.

Make sure the heel is snug and does not slide.

You should have a thumb’s width between the longest toe and the tip of the toe box.

Always try on both shoes and lace them as you would for activity.

Walk (or jog) around the store.

Shoes you try on should feel good immediately. You should never have to break in a pair of athletic shoes. You should never have to break in a pair of dress shoes either.

The right size for walking shoes will be a size to a size and a half larger than your dress shoes because your feet swell while walking.

If you have wide or narrow feet, look for a brand that has widths.

Measure both feet standing up. Choose the shoe that fits the larger foot.

Avoid purchasing shoes online unless you’ve actually tried on the specific style and size.

Purchase the shoes from a store that allows for exchanges or returns.

Focus on the fit, not the shoe size.

If the shoe doesn’t fit

Poor-fitting shoes can cause a number of problems. The increased pressure may lead to:


Curling or clawing of the toes




Pinched nerves

Ingrown toenails

Besides causing pain and discomfort that can affect athletic performance, the wrong size shoes can result in foot problems and cause further injuries down the road.

Don’t buy fashion shoes; you are much better off buying a plain-looking shoe that fits like a glove and provides you with the support you need, rather than a fashionable, pretty-looking shoe that hurts your feet after the first week of working out with them.

Don’t be tempted to buy cheap workout shoes just because you found them on sale. You shouldn’t overspend either on the latest pair of brand-name shoes that claim to have the latest in technology. It’s unlikely that either of these options will be the perfect shoe for you.

Athletic shoes are an investment. The right shoe will help you to work out comfortably while avoiding injuries and accidents. A good workout shoe now may save you money on doctor’s bills or physical therapy appointments down the line.

Before starting your fitness program, consult your physician.

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