Your choice of running socks can make the difference between a comfortable, pain-free run and a painful one. Wearing the wrong type of socks can lead to foot blisters, chafing, corns, and other issues. Some runners run in the wrong socks for years before they realize how much better their feet could feel in the right type of socks.
Running socks come in many different types of material, thicknesses, and sizes.
When choosing socks for running, the most important factor to consider is the material. Try to avoid 100 percent cotton socks. Once cotton gets wet, it stays wet. When your feet sweat or you step in a puddle, the moisture doesn't move away from your skin and can cause your feet to feel cold and clammy in the winter and in the summer it increases your risk of blisters.
The best running socks are ones that are made from synthetic materials such as polyester, acrylic, and CoolMax because these fibers wick moisture away from the surface of your skin.
For winter running, modern wool blends such as SmartWool are also a good choice. These differ from old-school wool socks in that they are made with "itch-less" wool that is less likely to irritate your skin. In addition, these new wool socks are machine-washable and dryable. Wool has its own form of moisture management that works well for many runners. You can even find thinner summer-weight wool socks if you find that you prefer them.
If you've been wearing shapeless tube socks for running, you run the risk of having the fabric bunch in your shoes and irritate your skin. Running socks are constructed to hug the contours of your feet so this potential source of blisters is eliminated.
Look for running socks that have an elastic arch lock to keep your socks in place. Some are designed specifically for men and women to match the typical shapes of feet for each gender. You can even find socks labeled for the left foot and right foot.
These socks may even provide the sensation of added arch support while running. The actual support they offer is minimal but they may be able to boost your comfort level.