Step Up Your Workout Game: Choosing the Right Socks for Your Fitness Routine

Sock Club
July 12, 2024

The type of socks you wear during your workout can have a significant impact on your overall comfort, performance, and even the health of your feet. When it comes to choosing between cushioning vs. thin socks, there is no one-size-fits-all answer of what makes a good pair of socks. 


The best type of sock for your workout will depend on a variety of factors, including the type of workout you're doing, the climate, and personal preferences.


Proponents of custom athletic socks with cushion and compression argue that they provide more protection and impact prevention, while proponents of thin socks say they are lightweight, breathable, and more comfortable. 


So, which is the best choice for you and your workout routine? In this comparison between cushioned socks and thin socks, we'll take a look at the pros and cons of each and determine which is the better fit for your active lifestyle.


Best Workout Socks: What to Look For

Before we dive into the differences between cushioned and thin socks, let's talk about what to look for in a good workout sock. First and foremost, you want a sock that fits well and stays in place during your workout. The last thing you want is to be constantly adjusting your socks mid-workout.


Another important factor to consider is if the socks you are considering buying are sweat-wicking socks. When you're exercising, your feet can get sweaty, which can lead to discomfort and even blisters. Look for socks that are made from moisture-wicking materials, such as polyester or nylon, which will help keep your feet dry and comfortable, and prevent blisters.


Finally, consider the type of workout you'll be doing. If you're doing long runs, trail runs, or doing high-impact activities, you may want cushioned running socks for added support and protection. On the other hand, if you're doing low-impact exercises, such as yoga or pilates, a thinner sock, or even no sock at all, may be more appropriate.


Woman wearing athletic shoes with no show athletic socks on a purple yoga mat in the gym



Benefits of Cushioned Socks

When it comes to your workout gear, cushioned socks are a popular choice, especially for custom sports socks. They provide a layer of cushioning between your feet and your shoes, which helps reduce impact and shock. 


Cushioned socks also provide extra protection from blisters and chafing, and they can be especially beneficial for people with sensitive skin. Additionally, cushioned socks can help keep your feet dry and comfortable, if they are made of a material that makes them moisture wicking socks.


However, one of the main drawbacks to cushioned socks is that they can be bulky and heavy, which can make them uncomfortable for some workouts. They may also cause your feet to overheat, which can lead to sweating and discomfort. If you are doing a medium-impact workout like strength training, you might want to consider athletic socks with light cushion.


Benefits of Thin Socks

Thin socks, on the other hand, offer a lightweight and breathable feel that many athletes prefer. They are usually made from lightweight fabrics like nylon or spandex, which helps keep your feet cool and dry. 


Thin socks are also more flexible, which allows for greater range of motion during your workout. Plus, they are less likely to cause any chafing or blisters, as they don’t have any extra cushioning.


However, thin socks are not as protective as cushioned socks, so they may not provide the same level of shock absorption. Additionally, they may not provide as much cushioning, which could lead to soreness and fatigue if you’re doing high-impact activities.


Sweat-wicking Performance Socks

Whether you prefer cushioning or thin socks, it's important to look for socks that are designed for performance. Performance socks are made from high-quality materials and are designed to help you get the most out of your workout.


Look for socks that are specifically designed for your type of workout and that offer sweat-wicking properties to keep your feet dry and comfortable. Many performance socks also have arch support and other features, like compression socks, that can help improve your comfort and performance.


What Types of Activities are Best for Cushioned or Thin Socks?

The type of activity you’re doing will determine which type of sock is best for your workout. 


For high-impact activities, cushioned socks are the best option as they provide more cushioning and shock absorption. Common high-impact workouts include running, HIIT, weight training, hiking, and kickboxing. Custom team socks like our Cotton Athletic Crew and Cotton Athletic Ankle work perfectly for this type of activity. 


For low-impact activities, and workouts with a lot of lateral movement, thin socks are preferable, as they allow for greater range of motion, are more breathable, and are less likely to cause chafing or blisters. Common low-impact workouts include walking, cycling, pilates, yoga, dance, rowing, and the elliptical machine. Performance socks with logos like our Cotton Ankle or Cotton Quarter Crew work perfectly for this type of workout.


There are some surprising use cases for different types of athletic socks. For example, skiing, which seems like a high-impact sport, is an activity that is best suited for thin socks made of merino wool


According to evo, “Thin ski and snowboard socks go hand in hand with a more precise boot fit, meaning more response and less slipping of your foot inside the boot. Less material between your foot and the boot liner means more blood flow in your foot, and in turn, more warmth.”


Pilates, yoga, and barre are all commonly done barefoot. However, devotees of the practices have been known to wear thin ankle socks with rubber grips on the bottom to help control their movement so that they can focus on their form more than not slipping on the mat.



Woman in her living room completing her yoga practice on a blue mat with bare feet




When it comes to choosing the right sock for your workout routine, it’s important to consider the type of activity you’re doing, the fabric of the sock, and your budget. Cushioned socks provide more cushioning and shock absorption, which makes them ideal for high-impact activities. Thin socks, on the other hand, are lightweight and more breathable, which makes them better for low-impact activities.


Ultimately, the best sock for you will depend on your individual needs. If you’re looking for a lightweight, breathable feel, thin socks may be the better choice. If you’re looking for more cushioning and protection, cushioned socks may be the way to go. 


No matter what type of sock you choose, be sure to look for socks that are comfortable, well-fitting, and made from high-quality materials that will help keep your feet healthy and comfortable during your workouts.