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My friends and I were going for a run on the trail nearby. As I was about to wear my running shoes, I realized that I forgot to pack my socks, leaving me with no choice but to run without them.
After a few miles of running, my feet started hurting and getting uncomfortable. After that horrible experience, I quickly came to a conclusion.
You should never run without socks. It can cause blisters and discomfort while you’re running. In addition, it makes the shoe and your foot stink.
Ahead, we will look at some of the other reasons why running without your socks is a bad idea. We will also debunk the other claims about the benefits of running without socks.
Why You Shouldn’t Run Without Socks
You’re prone to blisters
Blisters are the bubble of fluid under the skin that causes pain, especially when opened. They are usually caused by friction between your skin and material.
Your socks add a layer of protection that decreases the friction between your shoe and your feet. With the right socks and the right shoe fit, blisters rarely happen.
When you run without socks, there’s no layer of protection. Plus, your shoe will be moist further increasing the amount of friction between your foot and the linings of the shoe.
The shoe and your foot will smell awful
The number one and most obvious complaint of people who do not wear socks is an awful smell.
The bacterial build-up that causes odor happens fast where there is moisture. And since your socks provide sweat and moisture absorption, wearing a shoe without it can increase the moisture in your shoes.
There are a few things you can do to eliminate the odor. But, if you continue to run without socks, the smell will come back over and over again.
And you can develop a fungal infection
Aside from the awful smell, your foot is also susceptible to a fungal infection that causes itch and irritation. Not to mention it looks disgusting.
It decreases the lifespan of the shoe
Not only that running without socks hurt your feet, but it can also hurt your shoe. The increased friction between the shoe and your foot can result in the thinning of the shoe’s lining which can eventually become holes.
Related: 8 Tips to Make Your Running Shoes Last Longer
The shoe will feel lose
When you fit a running shoe, you usually fit it accounting for the socks. Therefore, wearing it without socks can make it feel loose.
It will feel uncomfortably wet inside your shoes
Without the moisture-wicking properties of the socks, you could be running feeling like you’re stepping on a puddle of sweat in every step. Not to mention it feels uncomfortable and unbreathable when your footwear is soaked in water.
Sockless running IS NOT FOR EVERYBODY
I’m aware that some runners prefer to go sockless. Even claiming that some shoes feel better sockless. But those folks usually run short distances, sprints, most of the time. They fit their shoe without the socks and most of them have more than one shoe in their shoe rotation. That way, they are less concerned about the smell.
Let’s take a look at the most common claims about the benefits of running without socks.
It makes you faster
Some claim that running without the extra weight of the socks makes you faster. But have they even considered how light running socks are? In case you really need that extra oz off, then just wear thinner socks.
There’s no study proving that you can run faster without the socks. They are just false subjective claims. One that can actually harm you.
Instead of removing your socks to be a little faster, you can apply these 19 tips to run faster.
Improves your transition in triathlon
This may be the most relevant of all claims. But still, gaining a few seconds is not a good enough reason to develop blisters and feeling discomfort in the middle of a long-distance run.
Most professionals just improve their transitions by practicing how they wear the socks and shoes as fast as possible.
I assure you, the few seconds you spend wearing your socks is worth it over the long run.
It’s more breathable
Since running shoes are designed with mesh uppers to make them more breathable, removing the extra layer of socks will further improve it, right? I thought so too.
Without your socks’ moisture-wicking and sweat absorption properties, it instantly becomes more wet and moist in your shoes. Reducing the breathability of your shoes.
That means, not wearing socks for breathability purposes may actually work against you.
Makes the shoe a better fit
If you accidentally chose a smaller pair of shoes, then this might actually work. However, you should never fit a running shoe without wearing the socks you intend to wear with it.
What to do in case you decide to run without socks
Worst case scenario, you run out of socks or you left your socks at home, what do you do?
Apply anti-chafe balm or petroleum jelly on contact points
If you have an anti-chafe balm or petroleum jelly, you can use that to add an extra layer of protection to the friction points of your foot.
It’s gonna feel uncomfortable and weird at first, but it’s better than getting lots of blisters after the run.
Put talcum powder
Talcum powder absorbs moisture which will keep your shoes drier and prevent odor. Put talcum powder around your foot and sprinkle some inside the shoe.
Careful not to put too much, or it may end up feeling like paste once you start sweating.
Or better yet, deodorant powder
I recently came across a product that effectively prevents odor in your foot. Apply the same way as talcum powder. Check out Milcu Underarm and food deodorant powder on Amazon.
Related: How to Prevent Running Shoes From Smelling (Plus 6 DIY Deodorizer)
If you have a Kinesio tape or athletic tape in your backpack, that cal also is used to prevent blisters.
Simply put the tape from the heel all the way up to your Achilles tendon and also around the ball of your foot.
You can skip the part where you tape in between your toes.
Running Socks Recommendation
Running socks provide protection, comfort, and absorption to your feet. However, not wearing the right socks for running can impact your comfort or even affect your performance.
That is why I only recommend compression socks for running.
Compression socks are tight fitted to your foot so it doesn’t ‘give’ when you’re speeding up. Plus, they have no excess fabric that can cause blisters or hold extra sweat.
They also improve blood circulation in the foot which can decrease swelling in the foot that naturally happens when you run.
Moisture absorption and wicking properties of compression socks are also better than the regular cotton ones. Therefore, they prevent odor and blisters well.
Compression socks are also cheap. You can buy it in multiple pairs on Amazon.
Wearing the right running socks is just as important as wearing the right running shoes. Despite the claims of some runners being more comfortable without running socks, it’s not for everybody.
Running socks prevent blisters and foul odor. That alone should be enough for you to see the importance of running socks.
If you don’t feel comfortable wearing them, you may just be wearing the wrong kind of socks. Choose compression socks that fit you well. It’s way better at absorbing sweat and providing comfort than cotton socks. In addition, it is also tightly fitted to your feet which reduces the ‘give’ and improves blood flow.