Once an absolute fashion “no-no” in respectable society, it’s become something of a trend these days to wear shoes without socks. In the past, women always wore stockings with heels, and men wouldn’t be seen in public without a pair of socks.
It’s interesting how far the sockless trend has come – perhaps even more so for men than women. From the catwalk or magazine spreads to the red carpet, the sockless look is everywhere.
But being fashion forward isn’t always a good idea. Turns out going sockless is really bad for your feet – in multiple ways. You want to wear socks with your shoes. Let’s take a look at…
Five Reasons Why You Should Wear Socks
1. They Absorb Sweat
Your feet have approximately 250,000 sweat glands combined, and they can produce up to a half pint of moisture every single day.1So, where does all that moisture go? Well, if you’re not wearing socks, it goes straight into your shoes. This can not only create a horribly wet sensation inside your shoes, but that sweat can also lead to bacterial growth and foot odor. It can also stain your nice shoes.
You see, foot odor always starts with sweat. And though sweat itself doesn’t actually smell, the bacteria that comes along to break down that sweat, does.2
And while it’s important that you always wear socks, you need to be sure you’re choosing the right ones. You want the kind of socks that can wick away sweat, preventing bad foot odor. More on this in a moment.
2. They Can Help Prevent Fungal Growth
The most common form of fungal growth on the feet is known as athlete’s foot or tinea pedis. Athlete’s foot loves to grow in warm, moist areas – and the sweaty shoe environment offers prime breeding territory.3
Up to 25 percent of people may have athlete’s foot at any one time. The condition is identified by flaky or scaly skin that may crack, itch, or burn. It’s found on the soles of the foot and between the toes.4
The best way to avoid athlete’s foot is to:
- Always keep your feet dry (including between your toes);
- Don’t wear sweaty shoes that are still wet from the day before; and
- Most importantly, wear socks that are sweat-wicking.
You should also know that athlete’s foot is very contagious, so don’t walk around barefoot in public areas, such as gym showers and pool areas.5
3. They Can Help Protect the Soft Tissues of Your Feet
Your feet not only take your entire body weight and walk around with it all day, but they also take a good beating from the hard surfaces that you’re walking on. A good pair of cushioned socks can offer a degree of cushioning that may help to protect the soft tissues on the balls and heels of your feet. A good pair of padded socks can help absorb shock and protect your feet from the friction inside your shoes that can cause irritation.6
4. They Can Cushion Against Blisters
Socks provide cushioning so that your feet don’t rub directly against the inside joints and lining of your shoes, causing blisters. When your feet are sweaty and wet, your chances of getting a blister are greatly increased.
According to the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, the first defense against friction blisters is proper fitting socks and shoes. It’s important that you not only wear socks with shoes but also choose the type of socks that will wick away moisture the best.7
5. You’ll Protect Those Expensive Shoes
Without a layer of protection between your feet and your shoes, you can also ruin a favorite pair of shoes. Socks act as a protective liner to keep your shoes fresh and free of excessive sweat and bacteria. You can easily wash your socks, but you can’t easily wash out the insides of a pair of expensive leather shoes. Shoes that are consistently worn without socks tend to become sweat-stained, discolored, and smelly.
What Kind of Socks Should I Choose?
So, now that you know about the importance of wearing a good pair of socks for optimal foot health, how do you know which socks to choose?
Here’s some info on the different kinds of sock fabrics available to you, and their benefits.
The Best Fabrics:
- Wool –– Some of the best moisture-wicking socks around, wool socks have come so far you’ll barely recognize them as wool. Wool socks stay dry because moisture is absorbed into the wool fiber.
- The “new” synthetics –– Thanks to science, you’ve got a whole new range of synthetic socks to help keep your feet dry. Seek out fabrics like CoolMax polyesters, Wickspun acrylics, and Isofill polypropylenes.
- New and interesting fabrics –– Copper has shown to have natural antibacterial and antifungal properties, and so some people are turning to copper fiber socks for sweat-prone feet. While bamboo-fiber socks have shown to be great at wicking away moisture.8
Avoid Wearing These Kinds of Fabrics:
- Cotton socks –– Cotton sounds ideal because it breathes and absorbs sweat like a sponge. But unfortunately, cotton socks can’t wick moisture away from your feet so they remain damp.
- Synthetic socks –– The standard kind of synthetic socks don’t breathe and they aren’t absorbent, which means wet feet.
Shoes and Socks: A Relationship That Stands the Test of Time
What’s fashionable isn’t always good for us, and the “shoes without socks” fad certainly fits this category. But here’s the thing: today, socks come in so many shapes, sizes, and designs. You’ve got so many options! If you really don’t want to wear socks under a certain pair of shoes because you like the look of bare ankles, why not seek out a super low-cut variety? A good pair will sit neatly below your shoe-line, giving you a fashion-forward look and the protection that socks provide.
If you feel like your feet sweat a lot, you should also keep a spare pair of socks in your bag or your car, and change into a new pair halfway through your day. Your feet will thank you for it.