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The Gym Socks That Will Save Your Feet During a Workout

It’s not just the shoes that matter when you’re exercising. It’s what’s underneath them, too

Just as countless innovations have been made within the world of fitness to refine every aspect of training down to the most minute detail, so too has fashion advanced to maximize performance and comfort right “down to the socks” as Biggie Smalls almost certainly would have said. While this creates ample opportunities to enhance your workouts in subtle ways through your choice of a specified sock, it also magnifies the potential for you to make a costly mistake by picking the wrong one. 

Imagine… showing up for yoga class wearing a CrossFit sock? What are you thinking?!

What to Look for in Workout Socks

Purpose: Do you require socks to give your feet a Spider-Man level of grip during yoga class, or do you need socks with added cushion at the bottom to help absorb the shock when your feet leave the ground and then crash back into it during dumbbell power snatches? How about breathability and moisture-wicking so that your half-marathon run doesn’t leave your feet feeling waterlogged? The activity you need the socks for should guide your selection process.

Hardiness: Having the appropriate features is nice, but if your socks are lacking in the structural integrity department, all of that functionality you paid top dollar for may be washed away after only a few uses. No one wants to watch as repeated washings of their specialty socks from Bombas are transformed into something on the level of discount Hanes by nothing more than the combination of water and detergent.

Practicality: You need to be careful not to focus on one element of your socks in lieu of considering the total package. Having impact-absorbing cushioning is beneficial, but if you have sensitive shins and wear no-show socks that sit completely within your shoes, that cushioning isn’t going to do you a whole lot of good when power cleans, deadlifts and other shin-scraping moves tear your shins to pieces. That’s why you need to check all of the boxes before you make your purchase.

The Best Workout Socks

Best Ankle-Compression Workout Socks: PAPLUS Ankle Compression Sock

Why You Should Jump in With Both Feet: These compression socks will provide you with precisely the performance you’re looking for. Specifically, all-around protection, along with added cushioning and support for the heel and ankle — and all in the service of initiating and maintaining blood flow throughout the feet.

Why Should You Kick Them Aside: One of the benefits to compression socks is their ability to extend the circulation throughout the full area they cover. So by reducing the length of the sock, some of those circulatory benefits are going to elude your entire leg, even as it provides the essential assistance to your feet.

Best Full-Length Compression Workout Socks: Alvada Compression Socks

Why You Should Jump in With Both Feet: Speaking of blood flow, if you want to support it throughout your lower legs, these socks are perfect for you. They will provide compression for your feet and legs as well as give you arch and heel support as you train. This also results in a massaging action for your forefoot and heel, which will be exactly what the doctor ordered during strenuous resistance-training workouts.

Why Should You Kick Them Aside: As functional as the Alvada Compression Socks are, their attempts to be stylish by featuring splashes of color on a black background are just one more thing you’ll have to attempt to coordinate with the rest of your gym outfit. So for the sartorially inclined at least, purchasing these socks is going to require you to get a new set of shoes and shorts at a minimum.

Best Sweat-Wicking Workout Socks: Dickies Dri-Tech Crew Socks

Why You Should Jump in With Both Feet: As moisture-wicking fabric is intended by its very design, these socks are composed of breathable fibers that move sweat away from your feet and toward the surface where it can evaporate quickly. Additionally, Dickies Dri-Tech Crew Socks supply cushioning to the feet and reinforcement to the heels and toes, mirroring several of the attributes of compression socks parceled in with those sweat-wicking benefits.

Why Should You Kick Them Aside: Whereas many pairs of moisture-wicking socks are lightweight and thin, these socks are definitely on the thicker side. While that may be beneficial if your favorite form of cardio is the elliptical, stepmill or something else that doesn’t require you to be particularly fleet-footed, it may not be ideal if long-distance running is your thing, whether it’s on a treadmill or out on the open road.

Best Yoga Socks: Muezna Non-Slip Yoga Socks

Why You Should Jump in With Both Feet: The bottoms of these socks possess an anti-skid pattern that injects some friction into the mix, and enables you to maintain a stable connection with the floor as you go through all of your yoga poses, or as you engage in any other gym activities that require you to maintain shoeless contact with the floor. If you train barefoot, Muezna’s Non-Slip Yoga Socks will enhance both your stability and your safety.

Why Should You Kick Them Aside: In most other environments, these socks are going to take some getting used to, and if you wear them with shoes, you may feel like you have some bizarre printed pattern being redirected back into the bottoms of your feet. In fact, unless you require the benefit from the added grip either at the gym or as you’re walking through your house, there’s really no reason why you’d ever need to pair these with shoes.