Filed under: Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Footwear Products
What better time of the year to pamper your feet than Christmas. Our feet are encased in heavy socks and footwear. We take them for granted. Here’s a look at my favorite things for your feet this year. My suggestion is to check out these items at Zombierunner.com. Don and Gillian support athletes with great service. You can click on their link and at their website, click on Foot Care or any other items. Zombierunner has everyone of these items, except a callus file.
Engo Footwear Patches – these slick patches go in your shoes to reduce friction. A must for any foot care first aid kit.
Drymax Socks – my favorite socks that hate moisture. Their micro-fiber technology is a sweat removal system to keep your feet dry.
Injinji Socks – the original toesocks that are perfect for many sports, and a must for those who are prone to toe blisters.
Sportslick Lubricant - Prevents blisters, chafing and skin rash during sporting activities. This skin care product also cures jock itch, athlete’s foot, and other skin conditions.
Stuffitts Portable Drying Solutions – for shoes, gloves, helmets to defeat wet and stinky gear. Their soft, lightweight forms combat moisture and kills odor in personal wearable gear.
BlisterShield Powder – a great powder, especially for those who prefer powder over a lubricant.
Kinesio Tex Tape – a great tape that breathes and conforms to the shape of any part of your feet. 1, 2, and 3 inch widths.
Leukotape – one of the stickiest tapes available. 1 ½ inches wide.
Superfeet Insoles – one of the best insoles for support. They are available in a number of options.
Toenail Clippers – everyone needs a good clipper to tame their toenails.
Callus File – a callus build-up can lead to problems that can result in blisters underneath this hard layer of skin.
Natural Running – this is a great book that teaches you to run the way nature intended, mimicking the healthy, efficient barefoot style you were born with, while keeping feet safe from rough modern surfaces.
Fixing Your Feet, 5th edition – my best-selling book that covers all aspects of footwear and foot care.
Here’s the Amazon link for the Fixing Your Feet print edition.
Here’s the Amazon link for a Fixing Your Feet Kindle edition.
I hope you’ll consider one or more of these as gifts either to yourself or a friend.
Disclaimer: I am an affiliate of Zombierunner and make a few pennies when you buy through my link.
Sock loyalty – is there such a thing? Is there really more than one ‘good’ running sock? Why are many people are loyal to their favorite socks?
It started with a simple email to one of the ultrarunnng forums:
“I’m so VERY disappointed today. My loyalty to a running sock company is unfortunately coming to an end given their recent business practices and unprofessionalism… it might be time for a change. So I’m hoping some of you could recommend a good running sock for me. I am NOT at all interested in Smartwool (NFI)… been there, done that. What I am interested is a sock that offers amazing cushioning, breathability and if needed, warmth. I’ve been running in a pair of Coolmax socks (NFI) for the last 2 years made by this local company… I’m sad to be searching yet it must be done… I loved the Coolmax with cushioning… it was PERFECT.”
Then the responses started – one after the other – for days. I found them interesting and fun to read. Being a sock lover, I decided to pay close attention to what these athletes were saying. I knew there was something to learn.
Right new, here is what people wrote, in sock company alphabetical order.
I wear Drymax socks every day of my life for everything that I do. They are the only socks I wear. When it comes to running ultras, I have yet to get a significant blister since I have been wearing them.
Another vote for Drymax. Ran Leadville in one pair, no blisters, nuf said.
I have no problems at all with Drymax. To me, they’re a godsend. OTOH, I had all sorts of blister problems with Injinji and they started falling apart on me after only a couple hundred miles. Those Smartwool micro-crew socks used to be great for me, but now, not so much.
Injinji socks worked great for me at three straight races.
Badwater (one pair the whole way); Leadville (one pair even with water crossing) and UTMB (one sock change). For some reason my feet took a beating at Keys 100 this year, but I think shoes were the issue, not socks (which were Injinji).
I get blisters with ALL socks EXCEPT injinjis, and with injinjis, I get no blisters.
I like my Injinjis, but I’ll only wear them during a short race, or on short easy runs because of how unpredictable their wear is. Put me in the category of always wearing Injinji socks. I have several pair that have been around since I started wearing them in 2003.
Injinjis! Not much in the way of cushion, but pretty comfy, nonetheless. The merino wool version keeps me plenty warm in single digit temps.
You’ll get very mixed reviews about the Injinjis. IMO, they’re fabulous. I probably have 30 pairs of them, and I wear them pretty much all the time, regardless what I’m doing. As far as lifetime goes, I have pairs that have seen thousands of miles of running and are still hanging in there. Others will report sock failures in the first 100 (or fewer) miles. Not sure whether their socks were a different material (there are several alternatives), they just got a lemon, the socks are better suited to certain running styles or anatomical properties, or what. Anyway, one very strong vote “for.”
Another vote for injinji. They are all I wear. Never had a blister. I’m not big on cushion. I wear minimal shoes (race flats, VFF’s etc) all the time except on fancy date nights. Performance style wears longer than the other materials in my experience.
I tried a pair of SmartWool socks several months ago and haven’t had a problem since. I really like them a lot!
Smartwools that I ran my first marathon AND my first ultra in without any blister problems at all. Now I can’t even wear them in a 5K. I don’t know why they changed. And I sure wish I could get away with 47-cent tube socks from Costco.
Here’s my two cents on the gear in question… Socks: Smartwool – end of story. Their cycling socks offer the perfect length for trail running. They bounce back after every wash and last quite a long time. Breathable in the summer, and retain their warmth during the cold – even when you go stream crossing in the winter. Don’t try that with a synthetic!
I’d like to recommend Swiftwick socks. I got a pair early this fall from a race & wear them every time if they’re clean (sometimes even when they’re dirty). Really cushy. They hold up really well in the cold/wet too.
I got a pair of socks from TNF this fall that are moving up my favorites list too.
My vote would be for Thorlo’s, Level 3 Running.
I have been wearing Thorlo crew running socks for 16 years and 30,000+ miles with nary a blister. Excellent cushioning.
I love my UnderArmour socks.
Wigwam wool-polypro blend socks were the best ever. ‘Twas also about 15 yrs ago I went around to all shops in the SF Bay area and bought what they had left of the Marathon Racers. Now down to about 5 new pairs and several used. Save’em for 100s.
I have some Wigwam Ultimax wool blend socks I got *15* years ago that are still running strong.
I love the Wigwam Ingenious socks.
For me, you can’t go wrong with Wright socks, Drymax and I been using Wal-Mart Coolmax for years.
I have found the double-layered Wright socks – and Glide – just about eliminated my problems with blisters.
Who wears socks?
Then there were a few general comments about the subject:
If this conversation has proved one thing, it’s that what works for any one person won’t necessarily work for any one other person. You just have to try different brands until you find one that works for you.
Lots of folks on the list have strong opinions about their socks, and you’ll always get the old school tube sock crowd chiming in. It something works, why change it (don’t fix things that aren’t broke is always my first advice)… but if your socks are not working try other options.
The only problem is that that doesn’t work for everybody. I got a pair of Drymax socks (from the great Drymax folks, who were there at ATY last December), and while I liked the socks a lot, I ended up with a tremendous blister on the ball of my left foot from the socks sliding around. They may have just been the wrong size, I don’t know, but when I switched to my then-standard double-layer Wright socks, things settled down.
So what have I learned? Socks are a very personal choice. We pick them based advertisements, emails like those above, suggestions from others, and simply by what is available at our local stores. There are many good socks to choose from. Some will work for your feet while others won’t. Questions include how much cushioning do you need? What weather will you be running in? Will there be water? Do you need any unique features like toe socks or double layers?
Companies want to make their socks the best. Many shoe companies have socks made that carry their name and many companies are trying to tap into the outdoor sports market. The choices are many.
So, are some better than others? IMHO, yes. Injinji socks are great for those prone to toe blisters, Drymax socks excel at moisture control, and Wright Socks offer double layers. Many others are made with almost equal part of different fabric components. While they may have areas of different thickness of cushioning, vents, and a variety of percentages of components, they are all very similar.
If this post inspirers you to try one of the socks mentioned, ZombieRunner carries most of them. And Don and Gillian at ZombieRunner are good people too.
Disclosure: I receive sock samples from Drymax, which I use at the races where I provide foot care services and I also give samples to athletes. I also have an affiliate relationship with ZombieRunner and earn a small amount from referrals.
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Footwear
Socks. They seem so simple but have become very complex. Socks in their most common form are a tube (of sorts) that is knit from fabric and pulled on your feet while wearing shoes. They sound simple. It is the types of fabrics and how they are made that has become complex.
There has recently been a lot of discussion on the use of lubricants and powders with socks, and more specifically, Drymax socks. I posed the question to Bob MacGillivray of Drymax Socks. Here is his response. I will have additional comments at the end. I have taken the liberty to underline what I feel are the highlights of what he says.
About your question regarding lubes and powders and Drymax; It is our belief, which science backs up, wicking socks made of Polyester (this includes CoolMax), Wool, Bamboo, Acrylic, etc., rely on capillary action which is highly inefficient inside a shoe because where would the water go other than to be held against the skin? It can’t evaporate. So many people try to overcome this failure by slathering their feet with lubricants and/or powder.
Drymax socks work in an entirely different manner. The inner layer of our socks is made from Drymax which has zero molecular charge and are Super Hydrophobic (water hating). This allows the Drymax fibers to act like a squeegee mechanically lifting moisture from the skin transporting it to the polyester outer layer that is hydrophilic (a water loving wicking material that most of our competitors use against the skin) which is used as a reservoir to hold moisture away from direct contact with the skin.
Using powders or lubricants can have a tendency to clog the Drymax fibers inhibiting their ability to properly move moisture away from the skin. This doesn’t matter with wicking socks because once you’re wet, you’re wet and lubricants are your only relief to the frictional heat created by wet feet, the socks have failed at that point.
By wearing Drymax socks runner’s feet stay drier. Skin doesn’t soften up nearly as quickly and frictional forces don’t have such a negative effect on the feet therefore lubricants aren’t needed.
(editor’s note: Here is the link to the Drymax web page that describes the blister cycle).
At a run like a 135 miler through Death Valley we would strongly suggest using our Drymax Maximum Protection socks. These are very special and unfortunately very expensive socks. They are knit with both Drymax and PTFE Profilen (aka Teflon) fibers 360 degrees around and against the foot with polyester to the outside. The reason why we use PTFE fibers is because they are the only other fiber that also doesn’t carry a molecular charge and has similar hydrophic characteristics as Drymax. This PTFE fiber also has the lowest coefficiency of friction of any fiber on the market reducing frictional heat; this combined with the lack of moisture negates the need for lubricants.
The Drymax Maximum Protection sock is incredibly expensive to knit since PTFE is about 16 times more expensive per pound than Drymax fibers and about 30 times more expensive than polyester. It is also very difficult to knit since it is so very slippery. Make no mistake, this is 100% PTFE not some silicone coated fiber like some other manufacturers use. The wear characteristics on these socks have proven to be impressive and last longer than many of our competitors making the replacement of these socks far less common than competing cheaper socks. In addition, we have a 100% money back guarantee. If for any reason a runner doesn’t like them or any of our Drymax socks they can return them to us and we will issue a full refund, no questions asked, however we love input so any constructive insight given is always appreciated.
On all of our most recent packaging we have added the statement about not lubricating and not using powders.
Now, my comments. The ultra list on the Internet has had comments from runners asking about the use of lubes with socks. Above is the recommendation when using Drymax socks. If you use other, wicking type socks, the use of lubes or powders is almost mandatory since you don’t have the combined action of water-hating inner fabric and reduced friction from the PTFE fibers as you do with Drymax.
Over the years I have worn a lot of different companies socks. Many are very good and work well for day-to-day use – whatever your sport. Every so often along comes a great product that set itself apart form the rest of the pack. I believe Drymax socks are one such product.
The comments from runners, many of whom are world-class front-of-the-pack runners, have shown the value of Drymax socks. Are they worth the approximately $23.00 cost? It depends on how much value you place on finishing well. For runners, adventure racers, fastpackers, and other athletes, spending a bundle of money on your adventure, I advise not to skimp on socks.
Still unsure of their value? Here is a link to the Drymax Sports blog. You can read about who is wearing Drymax socks. Karl Meltzer just won the Hardrock 100 with Drymax socks. Scroll down the blog and see how the socks fare in races this summer.
Zombierunner.com carries the Drymax line of socks, including the maximum Protection sock described in this post. Zombierunner is a good source of things for your feet and most other aspects of your sport.
Let’s talk socks. In this part two of what I learned at this year’s Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, I want to share a few observations I made while watching runners and helping them with foot care.
First – the good. Many runners are using good, high quality socks. Drymax, Injinji, Smartwool, Wrightsocks, Wigwam, and a few others were seen in large numbers. Of course, many were beyond recognition because of dirt and mud, or were covered with gaiters. But, at any rate, I am happy to see runners wearing good socks.
Now – the bad. Watching runners pull on their socks can be a bit bothersome. Many take the sock and simply insert their foot – and push. This is problematic as the sock is generally pulled on too tight, putting pressure on the toes and toenails, and stretching the sock, especially over the heels. It is better and easier to bunch up the sock and roll it over your feet. Let the shape of the sock fit the foot. Besides, pulling on socks can disturb any taped areas of your feet.
And finally – the ugly. I saw two runners whose socks made me cringe. One was lying on a cot getting an I.V. He was out of the race and had his shoes off. The socks on both feet had at least one hole over a toe! Stupid. After I patched the feet of the second runner he grabbed a pair of clean socks out of his drop bag and put them on. The socks were thread bare on the sides of the heels! I asked him why he would compromise a race and all the money it cost, for a pair of socks. When you pack for a race, make sure your socks are still worth wearing. Why make the race harder then it already is?
Last week I
posted a piece offering readers a Christmas gift of a pair of Drymax socks in
exchange for their 50-word entry. I said I would give away at least four pair.
There were stories of desire, selfishness :-), cuteness, and just plain “I’d like
to try Drymax socks.” In the end, I sent Drymax socks to all 10 people who entered – 11 pairs total.
Mancini (Missoula, Montana) wrote, “I’m a sock hoarder. To my family’s horror,
as a teen, I sewed socks (running shoes, too). I run, hike, and hit the gym in
socks with holes, socks so thin you can see through them. Post-frost-bitten
toes, I splurge on winter wools, but can’t ditch those old cottons. My size-9
feet are reluctant runners, happy hikers, & happy-when-not-too-cold
Pam Walter (Phoenix,
Arizona) wrote, “I would love to try these socks because I seem to be forever
searching for socks that won’t shrink after the first washing and will still
fit my size 11 feet. Most I have tried fit fine but after washing seem to be 2
sizes smaller. These also look very comfortable.”
Patch (Pembroke Pine, Florida) submitted the following, “My wonderful wife Mary
should earn a free pair of socks because she needs them! Since these
socks promise the end of blisters, they would be just what the doctor ordered
for her. The last ultra she ran she had so many blisters, causing her to waddle
funny for days, and that’s not very attractive. In the FL heat and humidity she
could really use something that will not make her feet squish and squeak in sweat
while out running. To make matters worse, most or her Injinji either have holes
or have lost their partners in a sad an unfortunate head-on-collision accident
with the sock-eating washer.”
(Los Angeles, California) wrote, “I have a few pair of the Drymax socks (after
seeing the recommendation on one of your previous emails), and I love them! So
I am entering my essay below to try to get a pair for my wife Meryl. We
do long-distance backpacking (I’ve done the Pacific Crest Trail, and we’re doing
the Appalachian Trail together in 2010), and some trail running. Here is
my essay: I decided to take my girlfriend on a backpacking trip. I packed.
At the trailhead I discovered I had her left boot, but the right boot was mine!
She was mad. Somehow, I still convinced her to marry me, and to
thru-hike the Appalachian Trail in 2010. I owe her. “
Beth Claycomb (Colorado Springs, Colorado) sent in the following, “In a word,
I’m just too cheap to buy nice socks. As a walker I literally walk
through dozens of pairs of Hanes socks every year. In the past year I
think they’ve changes something about their weaving process because I’m getting
holes in all of my socks at an alarming rate. It’s gotten so bad my
2-year-old checks the bottom of my feet daily to look for “hole-ies”.
I’ve heard that nice socks would really be worth the money, but I get buyer’s
remorse just putting them in my cart. Help!”
David Chan (Santa Monica, California) wrote, “Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail
I went through countless smelly pairs of socks seeking the perfect fit. Trail
running has become my new passion, and the need to have a good sock/shoe
combination remains critical to success. I would love to see if Drymax is my
holy grail of socks.”
Tish Murphy (Phoenix, Arizona) wrote, “On search for the “perfect”
sock, looking through my crowded sock drawers hoping that my feet have changed
since the last wearing, browse through sports store bins and always intrigued
by descriptions such as “world’s most comfortable”,
“breathable” or you’ll “never need another pair after you’ve
worn these”. Drymax? Thanks for the chance to win!”
Robert McAllaster wrote, “I am running the
H.U.R.T. 100 in January and would love to test them out in those conditions. I spent one training
day out on the course recently where the water ranged from ankle to thigh deep
on the trails during one downpour.”
(Portland, Oregon) wrote: “My husband and I spent the month of September
trekking in Nepal. Our two porters, Pasang and Wangda, (18 year old cousins)
were a highlight of our trip. After carrying 60lbs for miles every morning
(from their foreheads), they spent the afternoons exploring with us. They were
filled with enthusiasm, tireless, and always happy. They are also poor. Their
shoes were worn and filled with holes, and each had only one pair of socks. I
have been gathering items to send them. Footwear is a high priority, and new
Drymax socks would be a wonderful addition to my care package for them. I have
enclosed photos of Pasang and Wangda. We fell in love them and feel so
fortunate to have met them. They are both still high school students and hope
to attend university in Kathmandu.In the evenings, after trekking all day, they
pulled out their books and studied; without a college education, their options
for the future are very limited. We hope to do more for them in the future,
including raising money toward their college education. It is about $2,000 a
year (each), an exorbitant amount of money for them.”
Lori Jensen (Hillsboro, Oregon) wrote, “I really need a pair of Drymax socks to
give to my husband because I am selfish with mine and won’t give any of them to
him. I feel a little sorry for him that he does not know what he is missing.
Unfortunately, he may never know… “
Drymax for sending me socks I could give away. Who says Santa Claus doesn’t
like socks? If you need last minute Christmas gifts, try Drymax socks. You can get them at Zombierunner.com.
I want to make Christmas
happen for a few lucky people. Many of you know how much I like Drymax socks.
Here is a chance for those of you who don’t have a pair, to get one for Christmas.
Send me an email and tell me
in 50 words or less, why you should get a free pair of Drymax socks. They could
be for you or for a spouse, significant other, or a friend. Maybe you have a “bad
sock” experience to share or maybe a sock sob story. Be creative. Include your
name and address, shoe size, and what your activity is.
This will run until 6:00 pm Monday,
December 15th, Pacific time. I’m sorry, but I have to limit it to
U.S. residents because of postage charges. I will pick at least two male and
two female winners. There stories will be shared in a future post.
Two weeks ago, I was in Death Valley to help as part of the medical team for the Badwater Ultramarathon, a 135-mile run from Badwater, the lowest point in the continental U.S. to the Mt. Whitney Portal, at about 8600 feet. This race is always held in July to challenge the runners with extreme heat. The route is entirely on roads, however the runners often favor the rocky sides rather then the hot asphalt. As you might guess, this usually takes a toll on the runner’s feet.
In addition to the foot work done by the runners’ crews, three of us patched a lot of tired and hurting feet. Denise Jones, called the “Blister Queen of Badwater,” Gillian Robinson of Zombierunner.com, and I were all busy up and down the course. By the way, I am running an interview with Denise in the next issue of my Fixing Your Feet Ezine.
I was wearing socks from Drymax and had two extra pair. I like these socks because they do a superb job of elimination moisture against your feet. While other socks have wicking capabilities, Drymax socks are made with an inner thread that hates water, making it pass through to the outer surface of the sock. With wicking socks, water adheres to the fiber’s surface. Once wicking fibers get wet, they stay wet. The fibers hold the moisture next to the skin ensuring the skin stays wet. Conversely, with Drymax socks, water drops actually bend around the Drymax fiber, rather than sticking to its surface. This happens because Drymax fibers do not carry surface charges, so the negative & positive charges of water are not attracted to Drymax fibers. Because sweat clings to wicking fibers, the foot remains wet when wearing socks made of wicking fibers. Also the process of wicking must rely on evaporation for the fibers to dry out. Evaporation is a relatively slow process, especially in humid environments such as inside a shoe, where evaporation takes place at a much slower rate than sweating.
When sweat droplets move through the Drymax water-hating fibers they stay together and move instantly through the fibers. Drymax stays dry and therefore needs no drying time to keep the skin dry. I have noticed this when I wear the socks. Others have too.
So, back to the Badwater story. Jon, the runner from a year ago whose horrible feet I patched (click here to read his story in the August 2007 Fixing Your Feet Ezine), came into Panamint Springs needing some minor foot patching. Once I finished, I looked at his socks and offered him a pair of my Drymax socks. Denise Jones gave away two pair of Drymax socks. The runners were appreciative and finished the race successfully. Jon told me he loved the socks.
Trust me, these socks work for you. I wrote a lengthy review of the socks in the June Fixing Your Feet newsletter. If you are in the market for new socks, or if you want to see how they will reduce your likelihood of blisters, check them out. The website is DrymaxSocks.com and they can also be found at Zombierunner.com. Just click on Store and then Socks.
After all, we need to keep our feet happy.