How To Pick The Right Sock For Every Workout

When it comes to workouts, it may seem like one sock fits all—but the truth is, what’s on your feet can make a difference in your fitness routine. “By being mindful about your sock selection, you can avoid some of the headaches and performance issues that get in the way of an optimal workout routine, from friction-induced chafing to poor circulation,” says Dr. Hillary Brenner, DPM, a podiatric surgeon with practices in New York and Holmdel, New Jersey.

There’s no need to get too stressed over selecting the right pair, she says—the wrong sock won’t make or break your sweat session the way a shoe might. “They’re not going to control the way you’re moving,” explains Dr. Brenner. But what they can do, she adds, is help to mitigate annoyances and achieve a safer and more comfortable workout (blister-free jogs? Sign us up!). Dr. Brenner helped us to comb through the vast selection of performance-focused socks from brands like Dr. Scholl’s, Merrell, Sperry and more available from Loops & Wales to find the right pair for any fitness needs. Read on to find out which ones you should add to your gym bag.

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1

Running

Dr. Scholl’s Women’s American Lifestyle Blister Guard Low Cut Socks

$14.00

No need to worry about pesky blisters with these low-cut socks from Dr. Scholl’s. The patented BlisterGuard fiber blend in the heels protects against friction from pounding the pavement or hitting the treadmill track. “When it comes to running, I like a low-cut sock. You want to avoid any material rubbing against the ankles,” says Dr. Brenner. “A blister guard is also a plus, because when you’re running there’s a lot of friction down there.” This pair offers the same blister-fighting benefits for other high-intensity workouts, or even long walks (city dwellers, take note!).

2

Hiking

Merrell Cushioned Hiker Crew Socks (3 Pairs)

$14.00

“For hiking, I would definitely go for a high-top sock—you want to protect yourself against ticks, thorns, bushes, and nature in general,” Dr. Brenner advises. These Merrell crew socks are the perfect height for any outdoor adventure, and they have the added comfort of cushioned soles for extra protection against tough terrain. Or opt for this ultra-cute pair from HOTSOX, with a charming outdoorsy pattern and the height to keep insects away from your feet.

3

Yoga and Pilates

Dr. Scholl’s Women’s Soothing Spa Low Cut Gripper Socks

$10.00

When it comes to yoga, many people opt to go barefoot, but if you want an extra layer of protection (nice if you’re borrowing a mat instead of using your own) a lightweight, low-profile sock is your best option. “A sock that mimics the feeling of being barefoot and adds a good amount of resistance is going to be your best bet,” explains Dr. Brenner. She recommends a low-cut option like this three-pack from Dr. Scholl’s, with anti-slip grippers on the soles to keep you from slipping and sliding during your Vinyasa flow.

4

Weight Training

Dr. Scholl’s Women’s Mild Compression Knee High Socks (2 Pairs)

$14.00

“For weights, I’d suggest a higher sock to help with stabilization,” says Dr. Brenner. While she typically recommends compression socks, which aid circulation, for people with diabetes or peripheral vascular disease, she notes they’re also useful for anyone doing high-intensity workout routines, pumping iron included—when activating your upper body muscles, you want to prevent swelling of the feet as the blood flow moves downward. These knee-high socks by Dr. Scholl’s offer both the height and compression to keep your feet from feeling super achy after heavy lifting. 

5

Spinning or Cycling

Merrell Bare Access Mid Crew Socks

$10.00

“For an aerobic exercise like cycling, there’s a higher risk of twisting or spraining the ankle,” says Dr. Brenner. “A higher sock will help to stabilize it.” The extra material also protects exposed skin from hitting or rubbing against the gears of the bike, she adds. These Merrell socks please all kinds of bikers, thanks to their NanoGlide fabric, a durable yet soft textile that helps to absorb moisture and minimize friction.

6

Recovery

Dr. Scholl’s Women’s Pin Dot Knee High Compression Socks

$16.00

For recovery, Dr. Brenner recommends compression socks to keep inflammation in check and optimize circulation. “The less swelling, the better the recovery process,” she says. This set of two knee-high pairs from Dr. Scholl’s offers a comfy, breathable microfiber nylon textile blend and a stylish pin dot pattern to boot.

Naydeline Mejia is a freelance writer based in New York City who frequently writes about beauty, wellness, culture, and social justice.

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