The 10 Best Workout Socks, According to a Trainer

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collage of the best workout socks on a gray, peach and light blue background
Smartwool PhD Pro Endurance
Nike Unisex Dry Cushion Crew
Hoplite Premium Lifting Compression Socks
Physix Gear Sport Compression Socks
Balega Hidden Comfort No Show
Ozaiic Yoga Socks for Women
MAXTOP Compression Coolmax Ankle Socks
Adidas Alphaskin Maximum Cushioned Crew Socks
Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Midweight With Cushion Socks
The best workout socks don't just match your foot type, they fit your workout type.
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com

It's common to own a variety of workout leggings, tops and running shoes, but workout socks? Not so much.

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A lot of exercisers are running, jumping and lunging around in their everyday socks. They're soaked in sweat, foot funk and even worse, thinning around the balls of the feet and heels. However, just like performance shoes matter, so do performance socks.

Take your workout a step further by matching your workout socks with both your foot type and kind of exercise you're doing. investing in a collection of breathable socks for various activities, such as lifting socks, CrossFit socks, running socks and more.

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How We Chose

We spoke with Leada Malek, DPT, CSCS, a physical therapist, certified strength and conditioning specialist and sock aficionado about her recommendations and what to look for in the best workout socks for every activity. The following products are based on criteria including:

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  • Comfort
  • Support
  • Breathability
  • Technical fabrics

Manufacturers typically market socks according to gender, so we have listed both women's and men's workout socks below. Generally, men's pairs are available in larger lengths. So, people with bigger feet may want to opt for men's versions (when applicable), whereas people with smaller feet may prefer women's versions (when applicable). However, some companies make unisex sock sizing, so make sure to read the product label before you buy.

1. Best for Running: Smartwool PhD Pro Endurance

  • Fabric: ​49% merino wool, 44% nylon, 4% elastane, 3% polyester
  • Cushion Level: ​low
  • Compression:​ low

"Running outdoors and for distance can bring on a host of necessities and this sock is an overall win," says Malek.

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These running socks are lightweight and breathable, have just enough cushioning for foot support and contain sweat-wicking properties to keep you dry on your run.

Buy it:Amazon.com (women); Amazon.com (men); ​Price:​ $25.95

2. Best for Lifting: Hoplite Premium Lifting Compression Socks

  • Fabric: ​90% nylon, 10% Spandex
  • Cushion Level: ​low
  • Compression:​ high

These lifting socks are perfect for strength training workouts, as they offer compression and promote healthy blood flow. They're also durable, sweat-wicking and breathable.

They'll also help shield your shins. "Powerlifting socks can be helpful to protect your shins against the barbell and the high length of these socks with its athletic properties can help set you up for a comfortable lift," explains Malek.

Buy it:Amazon.com; ​Price: ​$24.99

3. Best for Compression: Physix Gear Sport Compression Socks

  • Fabric: ​70% nylon, 30% Spandex
  • Cushion Level: ​low
  • Compression:​ high

According to the Cleveland Clinic, doctors might recommend compression socks for people who have health conditions that cause poor circulation in their legs, or to improve blood flow during long plane rides, to reduce your risk of blood clots. Some people also just like how they feel during or after a workout.

These compression socks are durable, come up to just below the knee, and have 20 to 30 mmHg compression. Malek recommends getting a doctor's approval if you're new to compression gear and its potential circulation effects. (For most people, though, there's really no risk in wearing them if you like how they feel!)

Buy it: Amazon.com; ​Price:​ $14.50-$24.94

4. Best for Breathability: Balega Hidden Comfort No Show

  • Fabric: ​84% polyester, 11% nylon, 3% Neofil, 2% elastane
  • Cushion Level: ​high
  • Compression:​ low

"With a mix of materials, including polyester, nylon and elastane for shape retention and mesh construction, along with a seamless toe closure, the design makes these breathable socks great for keeping your foot dry — especially with high levels of activity," says Malek.

The added support in the toe and heel helps reduce friction and maximizes comfort. These work well for running, too!

Buy it:Amazon.com; ​Price: ​$15

5. Best for CrossFit: 2XU Compression Performance Sock

  • Fabric: ​80% nylon 20% elastane
  • Cushion Level: ​low
  • Compression:​ high

"This sock has graduated compression, breathable zones and fits the foot well, so it is a good option for lifting and exercises typically performed during CrossFit workouts," says Malek.

The higher length of these CrossFit socks can also protect your shins, which tend to scrape against the barbell and other pieces of equipment during this high intensity style workout.

Buy it:Amazon.com (women); Amazon.com (men); ​Price:​ $39.99-$56.59

6. Best for Yoga: Ozaiic Yoga Socks

  • Fabric: ​cotton
  • Cushion Level: ​medium
  • Compression:​ low

These no-show grippy socks are designed to keep your feet in place and are best worn for yoga, Pilates or barre workouts. They also have a strap option for extra stability.

"It's great because it protects your skin but also allows you full control and freedom to move without losing your footing," says Malek.

They are made with combed cotton, so they won't be sweat-wicking like the others, but you'll also likely sweat less you're not wearing shoes.

Buy it:Amazon.com (women); Amazon.com (men); ​Price:​ $14.99-$23.99

7. Best Sweat-Wicking: MAXTOP Compression Coolmax Ankle Socks

  • Fabric: ​50% polyester, 40% nylon, 10% cotton
  • Cushion Level: ​low
  • Compression:​ high

If you get sweaty while exercising, your best workout socks will have sweat-wicking abilities to you cool off, keep you dry and cushion your feet.

"Cushioned with great moisture wicking properties, this is a technical sock that keeps your foot dry and in place," says Malek.

Buy it​: Amazon.com; ​Price:​ $23.99 for 3

8. Best Cushioning: Adidas Alphaskin Maximum Cushioned Crew Socks

  • Fabric: ​34% acrylic, 29% polyester, 28% nylon, 6% natural latex rubber, 3% Spandex
  • Cushion Level: ​high
  • Compression:​ medium

"Moisture-wicking fabric, articulated arch and all-around cushioning, these workout socks accommodate high-intensity interval and high-impact training, which involve a lot of variety of movement and can cause blisters and foot pain," says Malek.

They're also slightly compressive, so these socks stay put even when you're moving.

Buy it: Amazon.com; ​Price:​ $9.70-$18

9. Best for Hiking: Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Midweight With Cushion Socks

  • Fabric: ​59% merino wool, 39% nylon, 2% lycra Spandex
  • Cushion Level: ​medium
  • Compression:​ low

Wool and nylon are two great materials for hiking socks, as they manage moisture well, offer tons of protection and stability and reduce friction. These exercise socks are medium cushioned, comfortable and warm so you'll find it easy to hike even when it's cold outdoors.

"You don't want your foot to slide around much with hiking uphill, and a sweaty sock with lots of walking is a recipe for blisters," says Malek.

Buy it:Amazon.com (women); Amazon.com (men); ​Price:​ $23.95

10. Best for Tennis: Nike Dry Cushion Crew

  • Fabric: ​49% polyester, 43% cotton, 6% nylon, 2% Spandex
  • Cushion Level: ​high
  • Compression:​ low

These unisex socks for tennis come in a six-pack and they are comfortable and soft, with special features that make them designed for right and left feet with compression in the arch area.

"I like this sock because it's reinforced in the areas prone to high wear, at the balls of the feet and heel," Malek says. That's especially useful when you're running around a tennis court — and consequently, wearing on your socks.

Buy it:Amazon.com;​ Price:​ $28-$46.99 for 6

3 Things to Look for When Buying Workout Socks

1. Technical, Sweat-Wicking Material

Technical materials — like polyester, nylon, micromodal, and even merino wool — are preferable for sweaty workouts because they're considered sweat-wicking. That just means they don't absorb sweat and hold onto it for dear life, like cotton does. When your socks hold onto moisture, that's when rubbing and blisters ensue. Instead, wicking materials help sweat evaporate, so your feet stay dryer and don't fall victim to uncomfortable rubbing.

"Pretty much any workout you plan on doing with a conventional shoe — other than the extreme barefoot kind with toe webbing or water shoes — should be done with a technical sock for optimal friction control and for sweat absorption and wicking," Malek says.This is especially important for high-intensity workouts and outdoor activities that are going to get you super sweaty (or when you might encounter wet weather).

2. Size and Fit

Pay attention to how snug your workout socks around your foot and ankles. "Fit is really important, not only for skin health, but also foot control," says Malek.

Too tight a sock may limit how well you can move your foot as you exercise, with less range in motion or added pressure. And too loose a sock isn't good either, as it may be distracting, feel uncomfortable or cause chafing.

3. Durability

Even the best workout socks have a lifetime and won't stick around forever. As for how long workout socks last, it depends on the sock and quality, as well as how many workouts you do in them.

Malek suggests tossing workout socks once you see visible signs of wear and tear for sure. "If you see any thinning around high pressure points like the balls of the foot or the heel, it's time to switch them out — especially if you have holes," she says.

Also, if you notice they're no longer doing what they're supposed to do (block odor, stay dry, etc.) that's another sign it's time to get a new pair or two.

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