Maximize your exercise with these sock choice suggestions

We all know how important it is to choose the right athletic shoe, but what about socks? Most likely, when making a purchase, it comes down to picking your size and getting on with your day. And the same goes for compression stockings; Choose a size (and possibly a color) and you're done.

But there's more than just sizing that goes into choosing the right pair of socks for your feet - in this case, size matters.

Whether it's your running socks, gym socks, casual socks, or compression stockings, Theresa Marko, Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Orthopedic Physical Therapy and CEO and Owner of Marko Physical Therapy, will show you how to choose the best pair of socks for your feet and offers the dos and don'ts of compression wear.

Consider these tips when choosing your everyday sock

Size, height and material are what makes or breaks your sock experience. The choice of socks is very individual and the goal is that you feel comfortable and comfortable in them so that you can move well in your daily tasks.

That being said, "there are variations to consider, like the height of the sock and then the material the sock is made of," says Marko.

These factors make a big difference in how the sock feels and how it performs on your body.

Man putting on team socks on his feetPhoto by Erwans Socks on Unsplash

One step closer to finding the best fit for your feet

Size: There are two things you can do when determining your correct sock size: simply measure your foot (in inches) from heel to largest toe, or go by your current shoe size. On the back of the sock pack you will find the measurements and sizes to choose from

Height: The height of the sock is individual and may vary depending on the activity, but remember you want it to be comfortable.

Regarding the "no-show" socks that go below your shoe line, Marko advises, "It's important to buy a pair with elastic at the back of the ankle so the sock doesn't slip down and cause blisters or pain."

For activities like running and HIIT, having the right sock height is essential. "You don't want to run in a sock that just slips off your heel and keeps bunching up in your shoe," says Markus.

Look for a sock that stays in place, protects your feet and is comfortable.

matterl The materials of the socks can be cotton, polyester/spandex, a blend of cotton/spandex, and then wool, wool/cashmere, and wool/spandex. Depending on the season and physical activity, the material can significantly affect comfort and even safety. For example, you shouldn't wear cotton socks for winter outdoor activities as they don't wick sweat and the sock loses its insulating ability.

Whether it's at work or the gym, "The different blends of materials can wick away moisture so the foot doesn't get hot and sweaty, and help prevent things like athlete's foot and skin damage," says Markus. With this in mind, when exercising, it's best to choose a sweat-wicking sock to support foot health.

For those who need arch support, “There are socks that have extra stretch around the arch to provide support and they feel really good,” says Marco.

Man sitting on bench wearing calf compression stockingsPhoto by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

The two types of compression stockings:

There are generally two camps of compression stockings: athletic and edema.

Athletic: Athletic compression stockings will be more of a traditional athletic sock type and will likely be knee high. "They support the lower leg and aid in venous return and recovery by providing some compression," says Markus. These socks are usually not very tight but have a slight amount of compression.

Edema: Edema control socks will be more like traditional knee-high stockings (like a pantyhose material) that come in a variety of gauges. These different gauges are the "narrowness" of the sock; Some of them are very tight and require a tool called a "thunder" to tighten. “These types of socks would be used in people who have lumps/edema in their legs due to aging or a chronic condition like diabetes,” explains Marko.

Female weightlifter wearing compression socks setting up a barbellPhoto by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

The best kind of socks for your training needs

Stand for long periods and long runs – Compression stockings are a good idea if you stand or sit for long periods of time. "If you stand or sit for too long, blood can pool in the lower leg and foot and the veins have a harder time pumping blood to the heart," says Markus. Compression stockings help prevent blood from pooling and prevent blood clots. Marko recommends compression stockings for someone who stands at work all day (nurse, factory worker, etc.). And for someone doing a long exercise routine like a long run, as well as someone who sits all day for their job (desk job), applying a pair of compressions is best.

lift weights – Throwing irons and lifting heavy weights go hand in hand as the compression stockings help pump your blood and keep blood clots at bay. If you're wearing compression stockings during your workout session, leaving them on after your workout can help with recovery, says Marko, but, "You might want to use looser compression if you're going to use heavier compression during your workout." She says.

When not to wear compression stockings – Compression stockings are not recommended for bed. "You also need to change socks and give your skin a break to breathe every three days if you're going to wear them all the time." Marko recommends.

A variety of different socks on the store shelfPhoto by Clark Gu on Unsplash

How to choose the right compression socks

"The level of sock compression depends on your comfort level and also whether you have circulation issues," says Markus. If you have a circulatory problem, you need more compression.

"A person with no problems can use gentler compression - however, compression is a personal comfort choice, so you have to try a pair and see how it feels." Says Marko.

Do you feel supported? Or do you feel limited? It will vary from person to person.

Compression stockings offer a variety of benefits. Consultation with a physical therapist can help you resolve any questions and concerns you may have about which compression sock is best for you!

Try these 12 top compression socks

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