Swiftwick: Changing the Sock Paradigm

, January 1, 2015

Ask a runner what shoes they wear and they can ramble off make, model year, stability level, and reasons that shoe is best for their stride.  Runners even stockpile their favorite shoes in case they get discontinued and retire a pair of $100+ shoes every 6 months.  Ask that same runner what socks they wear and they will most likely tell you “short black ones.”  My goal of this blog is to convince you that there is more to a sock than color and height.  Yes, the right shoe (or lack there of) is integral to proper running form, injury prevention and, of course, style (hooray for the return of neon) but let us not forget the importance of the SOCK.

As runners, we are all aware that there is precious little between us and the smashing forces of pavement beneath our feet.  For this purpose the shoe was invented, but it brought along it’s nemesis, the blister.  A simple solution was created to help reduce friction and absorb sweat: the sock.  Now, socks have been around since ancient Greece, (see wiki page) but we have have some significant improvements since the first models which were made of matted animal hair.  Well, come to think of it, most socks that I see people wearing actually fall somewhere between this and a threadbare cotton rolling pin cover sewed off on one end.

Enter Swiftwick: a company that realizes that, as runners, our feet have very specific needs.  Blister protection is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of a great sock.  In order to reduce blisters, a sock must be form fitted and snug around the foot with minimal seams.  A good running sock will have variability in its fabric to make it tight in certain areas while allowing for foot expansion with impact.  This construction is immediately evident when you look at any sock Swiftwick.  The fine knit toe closes the sock so precisely that there is no change in the texture of the sock where the fabric connects.  I dare you to try to find a seam.  Swiftwick uses a marino wool and nylon and fine spun cotton to produce their lineup of running socks and incorporates anti-microbial silver ionic coatings to keep your feet from festering inside your shoe.   A tight “compression band” around the ankle keep the socks in place during the toughest off-road adventures.

Next time you look at a sock, I implore you to demand more of what should be (and soon will be) one of your most valuable garments.  And did I mention that an exceptional sock will only cost between $10 and $15?  This is a great price tag for an product made in the USA; what is everybody waiting for?  This weekend, I will be racing the San Francisco North Face Endurance Challenge, and there is no other sock I would even consider pulling out of my drawer.

Craig Fellers is based out of Santa Cruz where he is the owner and optometrist at Midtown Optometry.