Socks are socks but they’re not all created equal, especially if you are a runner. You can look at any group of people out running or at any race, whether it be a local 5k or the New York Marathon, you will see no-show socks, ankle socks, calf socks, and socks that go all the way to the knees.
So why do runners wear long socks? Runners wear long socks because they help shield their legs from the elements, especially during trail running, they also provide various benefits to running performance such as improved recovery, decreased soreness, and better blood circulation. It also helps decrease soreness by keeping muscles tight and warm and reducing vibration in the legs during the run.
Why Do Ultra Runners Wear Long Socks?
They wear long socks designed for runners because they help guard their legs against getting cut and can also help fight soreness after a long run. It helps decrease soreness by keeping muscles tight and warm and reducing vibration in the legs while you run. The vibration reduction also helps with shin splits, which many ultra-runners deal with.
A marathon is 26.2 miles, an ultra-marathon is anything longer than that. That could mean you run 27 miles, 60, or 100, and some are even longer than 100 miles. It’s safe to say that Ultra runners put the time and miles in during their training weeks and obviously, during their races.
What Is the Purpose of Long Socks?
The main purpose of long socks for running is to protect your legs from the terrain, they also help keep your feet dry, by keeping the sweat from your legs running down to your feet because no one wants to run with wet feet. (Source)
When trail running you come across all sorts of obstacles such as bushes and thorns, tree limbs, and even the surface you’re running on such as loose rock can cause scraps and cuts to your legs, but wearing long socks give your calves an extra layer of protection from the elements.
It’s important to consider comfort as a factor when choosing which socks are right for you because as a distance runner, you will spend a substantial amount of time in them. So be sure to get a size that fits properly to get the full benefits of long socks.
Is It Better to Run with Long or Short Socks?
For trail runners or ultra-runners, long socks are the better way to go because they will help keep your legs protected.
If you are running on the roads where you won’t be running through trails and woods, long socks won’t provide much if any more benefit, but if they are compression long socks, there are additional benefits for your leg muscles and circulatory system, making compression socks the way to go compared to long or short regular socks.
This a video that helps explain these benefits, check it out!
Do Running-Specific Socks Make a Difference?
Yes, they do, running socks are designed to wick sweat or water away (some are even waterproof) and are also designed to avoid blisters and chafing and will also give your feet some extra padding which will help you avoid injury.
Also, check out our post “Why Are Your Shoes Suddenly Giving You Blisters? Prevention Methods That Works!“
Here is an anti-blister Toesocks that we use and highly recommend (The Injinji Toesocks),
If you are a trail runner, it’s best to get longer, running socks (the option available for Injinji) for the added benefit of protecting your legs. It’s also good to consider how far you run when deciding which socks are right for you.
Why Do Runners Wear Calf Sleeves?
The main goal behind runners wearing calf sleeves is to improve performance while fighting problems that can come from running like leg swelling, shin splits, and sore muscles.
When you run, you tax and stress your legs. The compression from the calf sleeves helps circulate blood throughout your legs which will give your muscles more oxygen, which helps decrease the build-up of lactic acid, and the less lactic acid that builds up, the better recovery you will have both during the run and after. (Source)
Also, find out How Long Can You Wear Compression Sleeves? When To Use Them!
Check out the 2XU Compression Calf Guards we use and highly recommend (Amazon Link)
Why Do Athletes Wear Double Socks?
Athletes wear double socks to reduce blisters, prevent chaffing, and pad the feet with extra cushion, which reduces the stress on muscles, joints, and tendons.
The friction that is typically produced between the foot and your sock that make blisters is separated by a second pair of socks, reducing the probability of blisters, and two socks are more fabric than one, so it adds that extra layer of support that can help reduce the impact on the legs from your runs.
Some socks are already made with a double layer to imitate the double socks’ performance.
They perform the same function as double socks but better. Think about it as an investment in your feet, joints, and muscles and it will justify buying good running-specific socks.
As stated above, if you do any trail or ultra-marathon running, go ahead and invest that money in long socks that protect your legs from the elements.
Also, find out “Why Do Runners and Trail Runners Wear Gloves and Arm Sleeves?“