As we all know by now, socks are the new shoes. I’m wearing my socks all day with how much time I’m spending at home. While this has benefited me in my shoes lasting longer, I’m actually putting more strain on my feet than ever before. When I’m not at my desk, I’m either pacing around the apartment to keep my legs active, or I’m going for a run in the park. I’m not finding those casual situations to wear my most comfortable shoes, so I’m leaning on my socks for foot support more than ever before.
In the past, I’ve dealt with a whole host of issues for my XXL feet - I’ve suffered through foot pain resulting from plantar fasciitis, flat feet, poor blood circulation, inflammation, and heel spurs. I’ve gone through countless remedies to try to alleviate these pains - special shoes, insoles, gel inserts, etc. All of these are useful in their own ways. But did you know the socks you wear can have a great impact on how your feet feel too? Cheap, flimsy, plain socks can exacerbate foot pain and arch pain, and they can cause new symptoms of foot problems to arise.
In this blog, we’ll break down why we have foot arches, what arch support socks do, and what to look for in the perfect pair of arch support socks.
Three Arches in the Foot - Some Basic Foot Anatomy
When we learn how to walk as babies, we develop arches in our feet to provide balance and stability to support our body weight, and to provide some spring in your step. When you think of “arch” as it pertains to your feet, you probably think of the one curve on the underside of your foot. The truth is there are three different arches in each of your feet:
- Two longitudinal arches
- Medial arch - arch that is highest on the foot
- Lateral arch - arch that is lowest on the foot
- Transverse arch - arch that is across the foot, think in the direction of the progression of your toes
As we walk and run, we put pressure on each of these arches. Over time, different patterns of walking and running can cause different parts of the foot and its arches to degrade and wear down. In fact, running puts up to four times your body’s weight of pressure on your arches. All of this stress on your feet is what leads to conditions such as plantar fasciitis, flat feet, and heel spurs. Thus, it stands to reason that any type of support you can provide to alleviate some of the pressure off your feet will slow down the wear and tear everyday stress on your feet causes.
What Are Arch Support Socks?
Simply put, arch support in socks means cushioning. As we walk, the force of our movements is absorbed by whatever we step on. For example, if you walk barefoot on a hard floor, your foot absorbs the entirety of the impact. Any type of cushioning, be they in your socks, shoes, or a combination thereof, will provide some level of arch support. However, cheap and flimsy socks provide such little support that most people don’t even notice it. Socks marketed with arch support provide exponentially more cushioning, compression, and support in strategically-placed areas to ease the pain that comes as we wear down our arches.
Arch Support Can Help Alleviate Pain Related to Plantar Fasciitis and Flat Feet
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the connective tissue supporting the arches degrades to the point of causing gradual to severe pain in one or both feet. If the arches can’t handle the stress of standing, walking, running, and general overuse of the foot, then the pain associated with plantar fasciitis can make it difficult to walk. Arch support socks can help alleviate the everyday gradual pain that comes with plantar fasciitis by providing extra shock absorption to the arches of the feet. Arch support socks can also provide a stabilizing surface for your feet to land, so as to lessen the burden of impact on your feet as you stand and walk.
Flat feet is a deformity that occurs when the arches of the foot either partially or completely collapse, or never fully develop from childhood. The result is that the entire sole of the foot makes contact with the ground, causing increased stress and pain in the foot. Arch support socks can help “mold” the feet by providing an arch-like shape to the feet, and strategically-inserted compression can help lift some of the sole off the ground. This can make a big difference to those dealing with the aches and discomfort that come with flat feet.
While arch support socks will not provide the same level of support that a custom-molded orthotic insert for shoes will provide, every bit of stress relief matters if achy feet arise from plantar fasciitis or flat feet. Arch support socks can assist to improve blood circulation, reduce swelling, and provide some pain relief associated with these conditions.
What Makes for a Perfect Pair of Arch Support Socks?
When searching for the right pair of socks to give you the most comfort throughout the day, some general rules regarding fabrics apply (see our previous blogs about the right fabrics for insulation and moisture control for more details). Generally, you want a flexible fabric that can mold to the arches in your feet, to help shape the contours of your feet to be properly aligned for the best shock absorption. Flexible fabrics can also provide a feel similar to that of a compression sock (if medical-grade compression is added to the arch support socks, even better). The cushioning for the arch support should also be made of soft, breathable, moisture-wicking material.
However, it is more than just the fabric composition and the presence of cushioning for arch support that is important. Sizing also plays a big role in how the arch support actually assists your feet. You want to be sure that not only is the cushioning placed in strategic areas to cover all your arches, but that they actually align with the arches in your feet to provide the maximum amount of support. For example, if you have an XL foot, but are wearing a medium size sock, the cushioning will be stretched very thin and not able to support your arches very well. Thus, you want to make sure your arch support socks are built for your specific foot size, whether you have large feet, XL feet, or XXL feet.
So Do They Work? Yes, But Make Sure You Get The Right Pair!
For your quick reference, here is a checklist of what to look for in the perfect arch support socks:
☐ Premium, soft, breathable, and moisture-wicking fabrics
☐ Flexible fabrics that mold and and contour to your arches
☐ Extra cushioning that covers all the arches
☐ Correct sizing for proper support alignment
☐ Bonus: compression
Tall Order Extra Cushioned and Low-Cut Ankle socks check off all the requirements for the perfect arch support socks for all day comfort. They come in a variety of sizes to fit even the largest feet, and offer enough flexibility so that your arches are cushioned no matter the situation. They will be the most comfortable socks you’ve ever worn, and your achy arches will thank you.