Preventing Sock Blisters: What is Best for Blister Protection

Sock blisters are a painful personal experience that we all know too well; the discomfort, the agony, the stress over not being able to walk properly. As someone who lives an active lifestyle, I am more susceptible to get blisters as a result of all my movement. And I know I’m not alone: one study shows how recreational hikers and bikers (I am a runner, though the level of activity is comparable) are reportedly 10-50% more likely to get sock blisters than those who aren’t as active. We’ve previously discussed prevention measures to stop your shoes from rubbing your heels, but today we’re going to take a deeper look at the role your socks play in causing and preventing blisters. We’ll also give you some tips for choosing the best socks to minimize your chances of getting blisters on your feet,

Picking the Best Socks for Preventing Blisters

There are several criteria you should use when searching for the right pair of blister prevention socks. Keep in mind that some socks may not be marketed to feature blister protection, but their construction still lends themselves to preventing painful blisters on your feet.

Be Mindful of Materials

There are three main components when discussing materials in how they factor into blister causation or prevention: fabrics, thickness, and moisture control. It’s a fact that some materials are naturally (or synthetically) better equipped for better blister protection. We’ve previously written on sock materials; while we believe polyester blends offer the best features of all socks, everyone’s preferences will vary. Of particular note, one study showed how wool or cotton making direct contact with the skin of the foot made it more likely that foot would obtain a blister. This is likely due to those two fabrics’ poor moisture control.

A sock’s thickness will also impact its ability to prevent or cause blisters; generally, the thicker a sock is, the more protection it will provide your foot. Another study showed that doubling up on your socks to increase thickness increases the resistance of your feet to the potential of getting blisters. So look for thicker fabrics with cushioning if blister prevention is your goal.

Finally, a sock’s ability to wick away moisture will directly impact its ability to prevent blisters. Moisture buildup on the skin of the foot increases friction when your socks inevitably rub against the skin through walking or more strenuous activity. Thus, look for breathable fabrics that allow water to naturally dissipate at an accelerated rate, and not fabrics that hold on to water and increase blister-causing friction.

Search for the Right Size

When thinking about how blisters come from socks, it all comes down to friction. So it stands to reason that poor fitting socks can increase friction on your foot’s skin. If socks are too loose, the extra fabric can bunch up and rub against your skin. This is especially true around the heels and toes. The opposite problem occurs when socks are too small; especially in low-cut and no-show socks, socks that are too short expose too much skin, leading to the skin rubbing against your shoes. Just as we discussed in our rubbing heels blog, there are products that exist to alleviate the pain caused when socks are too short, but why not stop the problem at the source? Make sure your socks properly fit, and provide enough flexibility to adapt to day-to-day changes in the shape of your feet.

Consider Sock Construction

Certain features of sock construction can lend themselves to advanced blister protection. Extra cushioning can increase the thickness of the material leading to less rubbing and friction. A liner layer on the inside of the sock, sometimes referred to as a sock liner, serves a similar purpose, as backed up by a study. Another sock construction element that if often overlooked in blister protection is a heel tab. On low-cut socks in particular, heel tabs place an extra barrier between the sock and your heel which can reduce unnecessary friction and lower the risk of developing blisters.

Put Them to the Test

At the end of the day, a sock’s ability to prevent blisters is going to come down to a wide variety of factors; not just the about the socks themselves, but also the level of activity, sweat, and climate outside can impact how well a pair of socks protects your feet against blisters. You’re going to have to experiment and do some trial and error with your activities and different types of socks in order to find the best pair that prevents blisters.

Preventing Sock Blisters: FAQs

We are often asked lots of questions about the relationship between socks and blisters on your feet. We’ve listed some of our most commonly asked questions and responses below.

Do Socks Cause Blisters?

Socks by themselves don’t cause blisters, rather it is the friction from excess moisture and from sock and shoe fabric rubbing against the skin on the feet that causes blisters.

Can Socks Prevent Blisters?

Socks by themselves don’t prevent blisters either. The right pair of socks, socks that are correctly sized and made of the right quality materials, can make it less likely blisters will emerge. Studies show how it is the combination of moisture and friction that allows for blister formation. Thus, if you pick socks that keep your feet dry and are fit properly, you’ll effectively prevent yourself from getting those agonizing blisters.

Is it Better to Wear Thin or Thick Socks to Prevent Blisters?

All else being equal, thicker fabrics prevent blisters better than do thinner fabrics. However, you must take into account a variety of factors when evaluating blister protection. For example, a thick sock that holds on to moisture and bunches around the ankle will be worse than a properly-fitting thin sock that wicks away moisture.

Can No-Show Socks Cause Blisters?

Absolutely - the wrong fit with no-show socks can leave the heel more exposed to the rubbing of your shoes, increasing friction and leading to blisters.

Does Foot Powder or Antiperspirant Help Prevent Blisters?

Some studies suggest that powders can have a marginal impact on reducing moisture that leads to blister formation, while antiperspirant doesn’t seem to serve much help to your feet. Generally, we suggest wearing moisture-wicking, well-fitting socks with the right size shoe over solutions such as foot powder and antiperspirant. 

Upgrade to a High-Quality Pair of Socks Today!

Tall Order Socks can help in the fight against blisters! All of our socks are made of high-quality fabrics that help you stay comfortable and cool even in the toughest of circumstances. Our Extra Cushioned Crew Length socks are just the right thickness with extra cushioning, our Low-Cut Ankle Socks have a heel tab to prevent your shoes from rubbing against your feet, and our No-Show Socks also feature a gripper in the heel to lock the sock in place. All of these socks feature moisture-wicking fabrics so that your feet stay dry. All of these great features lead to the best protection against blisters!