What to look for in running socks

15 July 2022


Socks are the underrated heroes of the running scene. Any runner knows just how important it is to have the right running sock for their sports, and just how painful and prohibitive it can be to wear inappropriate socks during a run.

Running socks are designed specifically for sport and the strain you put on your feet during exercise, which means they are made to support and uplift you, rather than drag you down with blisters, slippages, and discomfort.

Whether you’re new to running, looking for a gift for a runner, or want to improve your run, here are seven key things you should be looking for in your next pair of sports socks.

Moisture-managing material

If you’re wearing cotton, the fabric will soak up the sweat and stay wet, which can not only feel uncomfortable, but quickly lead to blisters. And in winter, it can make your feet feel much colder.

A moisture-managing material such as merino wool will soak the sweat away from your foot and still feel dry and comfortable to the touch. This reduces the chance of blisters and creates a more comfortable run.

Cushioned zones

With every footfall, your feet are striking the ground with a lot of force. Even if you’re a trained runner who knows how to reduce the impact on your feet, or are running on softer surfaces than concrete, cushioned zones in your socks can help to minimise this impact.

Look for running socks with cushioned zones under the balls of your feet to soften each footfall and improve comfort when running, especially on hard surfaces.

Seamless design

Seams are a common cause of blisters, especially around the toe area.

If your toes - or any part of your foot - rub up against a protruding piece of material, they will inevitably blister painfully, which is why a seamless design is the most risk-free style.

Breathable materials and/or ventilated zones

Keeping your feet cool and fresh makes for a more comfortable run, which is why it’s important that your sock fabric is breathable.

Many sock designs, therefore, include a ventilated zone that features a more open weave or a mesh-type design. This is typically on the top of the foot where the sock doesn’t need to add cushioning or support.

Additionally, breathable materials such as merino wool will help to keep the foot cooler throughout the run.

Achilles support

If there’s anything more annoying and uncomfortable than blisters, it’s socks that fall down and leave the Achilles and heel uncovered.

That’s why any great running sock will have a system in place to keep it from slipping down. In icebreaker merino socks, you’ll find Achilles support that ensures your socks stay in place throughout your run.

Crew socks, with their higher tops than ankle socks, are also a good option for sports.

Anatomical toe boxes

One of the many ways that sports socks are designed differently is in their shape, because a good fit is vital for a comfortable, supportive run.

And one aspect of this fit is to have anatomical toe boxes. In other words, specific left and right socks that are designed for each foot.

Arch support

The arch of the foot is composed of tendons, and these tendons help to absorb the shock of each footfall. For many, the arch is an area that can end up achy and sore after strenuous exercise, which is why running shoes often have a cushioned in-sole for added support.

You can also seek out running socks with in-step or arch support for better stability and strength while running.

icebreaker merino running socks tick all the boxes. With breathable, moisture-wicking merino and an advanced design, they could be your go-to sock for hitting new PBs and discovering that runner’s high - without the blisters.