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Even though running is an individualized sport, many people wonder whether running without socks is better than running with socks. Some runners like to run with minimalistic running shoes or even barefoot, while others enjoy super-cushioned models (including myself). And still, a few runners prefer to run without socks.
Studies suggest that runners may reduce muscle pain, damage, and inflammation and improve their endurance by wearing compression clothing (including socks) due to running economy, biomechanical variables, perception, and muscle temperature improvements.
This article will discuss everything you need to know about running without socks, including the benefits and drawbacks of running without socks.
Table of Contents
Do Socks Affect Run?
You need something to stabilize your feet inside your shoes while running. Socks perform that function. They provide your feet with an additional grip over your shoes. So, socks make running easy, and they support the runner.
Moreover, the quality of running socks also affects running. If you are wearing cheap socks while running, you are likely to feel slipping and sliding in your shoes.
The wearing of below-knee compression socks for 48 hours after marathon running improved functional recovery, according to a study.
In contrast, wearing compression stockings does not provide any advantage for maintaining muscle function or preventing muscle fatigue and muscle damage during triathlon competitions found a study of 36 athletes competing in a half-Ironman triathlon competition.
Is it Better to Run With or Without Socks?
Even though wearing socks for running is a personal choice. It is better to run with socks depending on the weather and track conditions. I run with socks on, and it protects me from the cold snow and keeps my feet from sweating during the summer season.
When you are running during summertime, your feet sweat. And, without socks, you are more likely to develop blisters because your damp feet will be rubbing up against the material. And wearing socks may prevent you from getting calluses on your feet. If you run without socks due to toughening of the skin, you will most likely develop calluses.
However, some people prefer running without socks because people want their feet to feel lightweight while running. They also like the feeling of running without socks in summer.
So, is it better to run with or without socks? Check out the pros and cons of running without socks on to help you make an informed decision. Some people wear socks because they fear the summer’s hotness or the cold winter.
Pros and Cons of Running Without Socks On
Like anything in life, running without socks on has both advantages and disadvantages. Now let’s discuss the pros and cons of running without socks on.
The Benefits of Running Without Socks
There are many reasons why people run without socks. Here are some of the perks of ditching your socks while you run.
1- Save Money on Socks
On average, compression running socks cost about $30 more than you usually like to spend on socks. However, when you run with socks, you can save $30 and buy yourself something else, maybe new running shoes, a water bottle, or even some post-run snacks.
2-Running Without Socks Can Make you Faster
Some athletes prefer to run without socks. Because their feet feel lightweight to them this way, and thus, they believe they can run faster. Running without socks can somewhat increase your ability to run faster. Though it’s a subjective approach, you can try both ways to see which one suits you better.
Some running shoes are designed for bare feet to increase the potential of running. So, buying such running shoes that work without socks helps you run faster.
Also, running without socks saves time for triathletes who usually undergo transitions from biking to running. Running without socks is a great idea if you are competing in a triathlon. It can save you time, especially when transitioning between biking and running.
3- Running Without Socks Can Make You Feel More Relaxed in Hot Weather
Running during the summertime can be very uncomfortable, hot, and sweaty. And running without socks keeps your feet cooler in summer as compared to running with socks.
When you run without shoes, your feet will also be able to breathe, and your toes can wiggle and flex.
The Drawbacks of Running Without Socks
As great as running without socks is for a few runners, many more runners always decide to keep their socks on. Here are some cons of running without socks.
4- Unpleasant Odors
Socks capture the moisture and sweat from your feet. If you don’t wear socks while running, the moisture will be trapped inside your shoes. That’s why people mostly wear socks to prevent their shoes from getting stinky.
Wearing socks helps contain most of your sweat, acting as a buffer and making your shoes less soaked. Without socks, all the sweat swims in your shoes, also making running rather challenging.
5- Running Without Socks Increases Your Chance of Getting a Blister
Running without socks can also cause blisters on your feet, especially when your shoes are new or running long distances. Because while running, your feet get rubbed against the inside of the shoes. Blisters are small pockets of fluid that form on your feet.
Going for short runs without socks can help you prevent blisters and train your feet. I would recommend you do as many short runs as possible to prepare your feet and slowly and gradually get used to running without socks.
Running with socks and without socks can cause blisters; however, ditching your socks increases your chances of getting blisters. Blisters develop because of heat and friction, including constant rubbing. And the continuous rubbing between the sock and foot can cause blisters.
6- Your Running Shoes Get Dirtier, Faster
It can also ruin the color of your shoes because socks collect dirt from your feet, along with collecting moisture. If you run without socks, the color of your shoes will start fading quickly. But if you run with socks, the color of the shoes will be maintained for a long time.
Running without socks can also make your shoes moldy. Why so? Because the socks absorb moisture. But without socks, the moisture won’t be absorbed, and you can see the inside of your shoes turning green.
If you don’t wear socks while running, then the moisture will be trapped inside your shoes.
7- Running Without Socks Create Less Cushioning
Besides absorbing sweat, one of the reasons people wear socks is to protect the feet. Running without socks makes you lose the cushioning and padding socks provide.
And thus, apart from fading away from the color of the shoes, it can cause the cushioning of your shoes to wear out. Your shoes won’t be as cushioned as they were when you bought them.
Running without socks won’t cause any side effects after a run or two, but you could have more aches and pains throughout your body if you run without socks often enough.
Tips to Run Without Socks
You can take advantage of the following tips if you want to run without socks.
Start Running Short Distances And Gradually Increase
Try running a few short runs without socks first to help your feet adapt and skin strengthen if you want to start running without socks.
Do not run a marathon or any long-distance race without practicing and toughening the feet with a few short runs.
Use Duct Tape to Prevent the Blisters
You can wrap your toes in duct tape to prevent blisters from forming on your feet. You won’t find any scientific reasoning for it.
But many athletes use duct tape around their toes to prevent blisters. You just simply have to wrap duct tape around your toes.
Using petroleum jelly around the contact points can also prevent your feet from getting blisters. The contact points of your feet are those points that get closely contacted with your shoes, such as the tongue of your running shoes or points above your heels.
Moreover, the front of the foot also is in close contact with the shoes. So, you can apply petroleum jelly here too.
Don’t apply petroleum jelly on the palms of your feet, as it can make you slip while running. Also, don’t forget to tie your laces tightly because petroleum jelly, again, can cause you to slip.
Use Talcum Powder
As you know, running without socks makes the moisture trapped in your shoes; you can use talcum powder to absorb the moisture. In this way, your feet won’t be smelly, and also, your shoes won’t stink.
Use The Shoes That Are a Bit Smaller In Size Than Your Usual Size
If you want to run without socks, then it is recommended that you buy shoes that are a number smaller in size than your standard size.
Because they will fit you accurately, and you won’t feel the discomfort of shoes getting slipped away from your feet.
But ensure that your running shoes aren’t too tight for your feet to avoid redness and swelling.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, running with or without socks is a personal decision and depends on your comfort level and running style. One thing for sure is that being comfortable while you run greatly influences your performance.
Though running with socks has its advantages, you can also run without socks. But for running without socks, I recommend that you take preventive measures to keep both your feet and shoes in good shape.
If you want to try running without socks, start slow and pay close attention to how a shoe fits without the extra padding.