In addition to comfort, athletes wear socks to help absorb moisture and to enhance the fit of a shoe. Several other factors also go into a sprinter’s decision to wear spikes with or without socks. This includes the training or running environment, fit, footwear performance, and the runner’s personal preferences.
So Should You Wear Socks With Spikes?
Yes. You can wear socks with spikes if you want to. Running spikes are generally designed for a snug fit, so whether you wear socks or not is up to you. Going barefoot, however, can increase your chances of developing blisters. That means you might want to opt for a thin technical sock to get the best of both.
On the off chance that you find a still photo of champion sprinter Usain Bolt, you’ll realize that he’s not wearing socks. This is not something he started. A sock with spikes isn’t widespread, especially among more experienced sprinters.
When they do slip into a pair, it’s usually a thin version just for comfort. Besides, dead space and loose movements in the toe of a racing shoe can cause a sprinter to slow down, and socks can help address this issue.
Thin Spike Socks
Some people claim that most sprinters go sockless because their feet are expected to fit tightly into the spikes. However, not everyone thinks that is the best way to run. Some podiatrists recommend wearing thin cotton athletic socks for an optimal sprinting experience.
A good pair of socks should absorb moisture and protect your feet from the inner-seam shoes. It also means you’ll have an extra layer of comfort.
Some socks are purposely designed to improve athletic performance. A good example is those that claim to increase oxygen intake. Stockings, commonly known as compression socks stop at the knee and facilitate compression at the ankle.
Such skin-tight material is meant to deliver positive pressure across the valves in blood veins while improving blood flow to the heart. Borrowing inspiration from the School of Human Movement Studies, some sprinters could count on compression socks to subside post-race muscle fatigue.
Shoes that are biomechanically appropriate and well-designed for an individual runner still need to fit properly for the sprinter to realize the full benefits. To increase the odds, athletes should be fitted for shoes while wearing the specific brand/style of socks they will wear with them later. If you’re not planning to wear socks with your shoes, as is usually the case with sprint track spikes, then you should fit the shoes without socks.
A layer of Protection
Socks can create a layer of protection between the sprinter’s skin and the shoes. This, in turn, helps to prevent chafing and the development of painful blisters. Still, under protection, another thing that a sprinter should consider when choosing socks that are well-suited for their specific running conditions is material.
The type of material may be affected by temperature, weather running surface as well as workout duration. The thickness and the material used in the making of the socks can provide warmth or help to keep the feet cool while wicking away sweat and moisture from the foot.
The right sock material can also prevent the sock itself from slipping down or bunching up on the foot. Based on reviews, runners who wear socks made from acrylic fiber often experience drier feet and have fewer chances of developing blisters compared to those who wear cotton fiber socks.
Note: Not all Spikes are the same
Spikes, just like other types of shoes, are available in various options. There are those designed for long sprints, short sprints, long distances, cross country, middle distances, steeplechase, and field events. Some spike models are cushioned like training shoes while others in the quest to achieve a lightweight shoe are stripped down to the essentials.
The actual spike of these shoes is called a “pin”. Some models have three while others are designed with as many as eight. Also, spiked shoes may have a substantial heel, or no heel at all, replacement pins, or permanent pins. Some even feature holes to allow water-or to serve as the steeplechaser.
While running is an individualized sport, runners tend to have different foibles and preferences on any topic. Speaking of footwear, some runners like to run with minimalist running shoes or even barefoot, while others prefer super-cushioned models. Still, others like to run without socks.
Pros of Running Without Socks
There are various reasons why you might consider running without socks, even for those who have never done it before:
Ability To Run Faster
Some sprinters and track athletes opt to forego the socks to avoid being weighed down by the extra material. Still, there isn’t clear research to confirm this belief but you can always try out and see what works best for you.
Cooler Feet In the summer
Those who usually run in the summer know how uncomfortable it can be. Footwear gets super hot, and having a little relief for your feet might help a lot. As such running without socks will make your feet cooler in hot conditions.
Some running shoes and spikes are designed for barefoot. That means you’ll definitely get a better shoe fit right out of the box. Such shoes might make you feel more comfortable in absence of the extra material of the sock. But then again, this comes down to personal preferences.
Running without socks is usually common among athletes and triathletes. While being able to transition quickly between running and biking is critical, you will be saving valuable time if you don’t have to put on a pair of socks between sessions.
The Bottom Line
Subject to your personal preferences, you can choose to run with or without socks. For triathletes, it surely makes sense to have a pair. If you decide to run without socks, check that you’re well prepared so that you don’t end up sustaining injuries like blisters and overall stinky shoes.