It matters what you put on your feet.
This tennant is so ingrained in our soul sole that we take it for granted. And it’s not just shoes.
“Your shoe can only provide so much comfort,” explains Impi Leslie Horowitz. “They’re primarily meant to assist with stability, with some cushion. Socks are the first barrier and it doesn’t matter how long you’re on your feet, comfort is key! I realized this when I was wearing horrible socks! They wore down in the washer/dryer, they weren't comfortable, they didn’t fit right, they didn’t prevent blisters. And then I found Balega.”
As Leslie illustrates, your socks matter, too. Taking a step back, we asked our Impi team to share with us why good socks matter, and how they came to this realization.
Read on at your own peril. You will never be able to go back to cotton again.
Editor's note: There are so many reasons that we’ve split this up into two posts. Don’t miss part two, including finding the best sock for you, over here.
One. Blisters are real.
Nearly every Impi we talked with cited blisters as the primary reason they care about what they put on their feet. Almost always preventable yet almost always debilitating, blisters are an incredibly frustrating and unnecessary impediment to your athletics and fitness, and hence general wellbeing and happiness.
Before she discovered Balega, Chasity Brannon suffered from self-described “horrible blisters. My blisters had blisters.” After trying multiple types of blister resistant socks to no avail she found Balega. “I realized the right socks were everything to the happiness of my feet,” she says. “I would have quit running because my feet were a mess, multiple levels of blisters, pain, blood, etc.” The Enduro are Chasity’s favorites for running (the theme park variety because she lives 10 minutes from Disneyland), and she turns to the Hidden Comforts for everyday casual wear.
Lauren Dirkschneider confirms Chasity’s conviction. “Good socks matter to me because my feet are such an important part of doing the things that I love,” she explains. “I ask a lot of my feet, and I feel that it is important to take care of them. I realized this after my first few marathons where I got blisters and lost toenails wearing socks that weren’t up to par.” Her favorites are the Blister Resists because “I prefer a cushioned ride, and they’ve never failed me in terms of actually resisting blisters.”
Two. It’s nice having toenails.
Blisters seem to be a precursor to an equally pesky impediment: toenail loss. Whether you care what your feet look like or not, keeping your toenails intact will enhance your quality of life. And like preventing blisters, preserving your toenails is indeed possible. All it takes is a little fairy dust...in the form of quality socks.
“Good’ socks matter to me because I like having toenails,” says Jessy Spencer. “When I started running I bought a package of athletic socks from Walmart. Once I started running more than a few miles at a time though, I would get blisters on every single run. I lost a couple of toenails before I started to realize that it might be something I could prevent. I did some research, asked around, and bought some Blister Resists. I have never gone back! I never get blisters anymore, and all my toenails are present and accounted for.”
Three. No, your socks don’t have to slip down.
“Oh god how I used to HAAAAAAATE that!” CC Rowe says of heel slippage. She learned about the benefits of good socks while hiking the Appalachian trail.
“I am a lifelong sandals wearer and didn’t wear socks for a decade or so,” she says. “When I left for the AT, I decided to hike in trail running shoes and socks.” My feet weren’t used to it, and they were torn apart in the first week. I duct taped my blisters until they healed, and picked up a new pair of socks in a trail town, and my life was infinitely better. After coming home from my hike, I started distance walking/running. Again, I sought out socks to help prevent the blisters that would still occasionally form between my toes on my distance workouts. It took about six months to settle on a pair of socks that were comfortable, helped prevent blisters, and (an added bonus) helped my feet endure the pound pound pounding that came with training for road races.”
CC’s favorites are the Enduro No-Shows: “They give a little extra support in the arch, a little extra cushion in the balls of the feet, while not squeezing my toes together. Also, with the way the heel cup is formed, they don’t slip down into my shoe while I run.”
Four. Your feet don’t need (or want) to sit in sweat
Not only do sweaty feet contribute to blister formation, toenail loss, and sock slippage, they also can brew bacteria. Why put up with that if you don’t have to?!
“When I first started running long distances I wore my regular old cotton ‘gym socks’ not realizing that the multitude of issues I was dealing with from athlete's foot to blisters were 100% the fault of the socks I was wearing,” explains Lori Roberts. “Socks like Balega wick moisture away from your feet reducing friction and keeping bacteria harboring moisture at bay. When I was gifted my first pair of Hidden Comforts my whole world changed; in a matter of weeks my blisters were not existent and my feet were happy and healthy again!”
“I love the Hidden Drys because after years of living on the gulf coast, I value being able to keep my feet dry and cool during super hot, humid runs (aka 80 percent of the year). It’s the best!” says Lauren Ross.
Ryan Giuliano backs Lauren up: “Hidden Drys are my favorite socks. They are so light and thin that it keeps my feet cool while still protecting them from blisters.”
“I have been racing for 42 years and that is many, many miles run on my two feet,” says Cindy Barbour. “I need the wicking properties of socks to keep my feet cooler and dryer. I need the little extra cushioning for my well used feet and joints.”
Five. Go further, faster.
Robert LaPointe sums it up: “If my feet aren’t happy, I’m not a happy runner.”
“Preventing blisters and sores from the beginning means we can go a lot further, pushing boundaries and distances,” elaborates Janae Dixon.
Brittany Tempest goes as far as to say “good socks matter because they can make or break your race. Blisters can seriously slow you down, as can socks that are too tight. I learned this when I was given another pair of socks at an event and got home with not only blisters on both heels, but my big toe was BRIGHT red and super sore from being constricted by the tightness of the socks, and I'm not talking about compression. After that, I switched to Balega, starting with the Hidden Comforts and moving into the Silvers as well. I love the Hidden Comforts and Silvers because they offer cushion and support without being bulky.”
Why are “good” socks good? And how do you choose the right ones for you? Find out over at Part 2.