The yarns socks are made of is not something we think about very often; however, the right socks make our feet feel good and when our feet feel good, we feel so much better! Our feet are big sweaters (not the kind you wear in the winter)! There are 250,000 sweat glands found on each foot and can generate between one half and one cup of liquid a day!
Now, our task with compression socks (support socks, support stockings, compression hose, compression stockings or whatever you wish to call them) is to wick this moisture away from the feet so they do not become soggy and damp. Soggy skin becomes compromised faster than dry skin.
You would think natural fibers such as wool and cotton would be great. Some diabetics think the only sock they can wear is a cotton sock, but for the most part this is not true. Cotton is in a lot of less expensive socks. It absorbs a lot of moisture, but it loses all of its insulating ability when wet, takes forever to dry (does not wick moisture away from the feet), and sags and bunches when wet (not good for compression socks). Socks with high cotton content should usually be avoided.
Wool manages moisture well, wicks moisture away from the feet, provides good padding and warmth, and can absorb up to a third of its weight in water without feeling damp or losing much of its insulating ability. However, wool is also less durable than most synthetic materials, and does not hold its shape well.
Nylon and polyester seem to be some of the most durable of the yarns. When your very favorite sock wears out, it is the nylon threads that are holding the sock together. These threads actually absorb very little of the moisture, dry quickly and help give the sock form. The nylon and polyester yarns do not move the moisture, but the manufacturers use coatings to enable the fibers to wick moisture away from the feet.
Acrylic is another commonly used synthetic material. It closely approximates the plushness of wool, while offering the increased durability of a synthetic. Other materials used include Lycra Spandex or Elasthan, which provide the hugging elastic. None of the synthetic yarns contain latex.
Polyamide is a term often seen in the yarns of many socks. Polyamide is the basic fiber forming substances for nylon fiber. To make it simple when you come down to it nylon is a polyamide.
Many of our new garments are now knit of a patented blend of synthetic and natural fiber that accelerate the wicking action. Dri-Release® is one of these. It feels like cotton. Dri-Release® actually pushes the moisture to the outside of the garment. Tests show it dries four time faster than cotton . This yarn is the preferred performance yarn for athletes.
Most compression socks and compression stockings are made of nylon or polyamide and Elasthane. Here are a few examples:
In conclusion a compression garment with high contents of synthetic fibers will tend to provide longer wear and better wicking action. Many of the socks have a combination of yarns with small percentages of cotton or wool for added loft to provide better padding. With so many yarns to choose from, there is truely a garment to make everyones feet happy!
Here’s to happy feet,