Runners typically spend plenty of time selecting their shoes, and usually plenty of money buying them. After all, picking up a pair of the right running shoes for your feet is vital if you expect to stay injury-free. However, most runners don't give much thought to the socks that they will wear under those shoes. That's a real problem; going with an old-fashioned pair of cotton socks instead of specialty synthetic running socks can put your feet at risk of several conditions, no matter how expensive your shoes.
Here are just four problems that can be avoided by bypassing cotton and wearing special running socks instead.
Blisters are probably the most common injuries faced by runners; in fact, they're so common that many people don't even class them as 'injuries' at all, and they certainly aren't as problematic as something like a twisted ankle. However, blisters can become infected, and they're more than able to disrupt your running schedule. One way to prevent them is by avoiding cotton socks. Because cotton absorbs sweat, the amount of moisture in your shoes will increase. This softens the skin and makes blisters more likely to occur.
2. Infected Ingrown Toenails
Ingrown toenails can be horrible at the best of times, but infected ingrown toenails are even worse. Luckily, you can reduce the chances of infection by ditching your cotton socks. Infections are more likely to occur when the skin around your toenail is moist. Bacteria find it easier to thrive under these conditions. With cotton socks, the added moisture and lack of breathability can increase your chances of infection.
3. Athlete's Foot
Just as the moisture held by cotton socks can increase the chances of ingrown toenails becoming infected, it can also increase your risk of developing athlete's foot. This is a fungal infection caused by parasites living within your skin. That fungus is great at taking root in warm, moist areas, especially in ones that aren't ever properly dried. If you'd like to prevent it, make sure your feet are kept dry during each training session by wearing running socks, then make sure you dry between your toes after you shower.
4. Impact Injuries
Blisters, infected ingrown toenails, and athlete's foot are all troublesome, but switching to specialty running socks can also prevent serious impact injuries. This is because they have been made with running in mind and therefore offer padding against the heel and forefoot to help cushion each footfall. Many will also have been made with specialty materials to provide increased support along the foot, preventing it from losing shape or moving incorrectly when it comes down against the road below.
For more tips and information on how to protect your feet from infection and injury while running, talk with a podiatrist in your area.