If you need extra-wide shoes you may also need extra-wide socks. Knowing what to look for and where to find well-constructed wide socks can help relieve or prevent some common foot and ankle problems.
Who Needs Extra-Wide Socks?
You may simply have very wide feet and find it difficult to put on most regular socks. But there are also other reasons for needing wider socks.
A bunion is a bony bump, usually just below the big toe. It can become painful and swollen from rubbing against your shoes, but tight socks can also put pressure on a bunion. You may have switched to shoes that don't irritate it but then discover that your socks are a problem. Many more women than men have bunions. You will need to consider your bunion when choosing dress shoes, nylons, and tights as well as when wearing athletic footwear.
If you have wide ankles and calves or get swollen ankles by the end of the day, you may find many socks are too tight in those areas. While compression socks may help blood flow, some regular socks may simply have a tight band at the top that restricts blood flow instead.
Choosing the Right Wide Socks
When you are looking for the right socks, keep these factors in mind:
Good socks for blisters can be bad for bunions. To help prevent friction that can cause blisters, well-designed socks are anatomically contoured. They have a heel cup, toe box, and ribbing in between. This keeps helps keep the sock in place during walking. But the ribbing can end up rubbing against a bunion and giving you pain.
Bigger socks are not the answer. Buying socks that are larger than you need often leaves you with socks that might not be as constricting but will be too long. The extra fabric can bunch around the toes and heel, leading to friction and blisters.
Sock shrinkage is a problem. You may spend money on good socks that fit great when you first wear them. But then they come out of the dryer shrunken significantly and no longer stretch to fit your foot comfortably. Unfortunately, it's hard to know if this will be a problem until after you do the laundry.
Where to Find Wide Socks
Wrightsock makes excellent sport socks for walkers and runners. They have a double-layer design to prevent blisters and are made of sweat-wicking fabric. Their Double-Layer Xtra Wide Crew sock has a tube design without a defined heel pocket. Without elastic in the foot area, they won't bind bunions and cause pain. They have no elastic at the cuff, so they won't bind wide ankles. The drawback is that the socks may bunch up in the shoe as there isn't anything to keep them in place. As well, they are now on close-out and they may be hard to find.
The Extra Wide Sock Company makes extra-wide socks, especially for people with wide feet, ankles, and calves. You will also see them branded as "Loose Fit Stays Up" socks. They have athletic socks in ankle length and calf-length as well as dress socks and comfort socks. They are made to stretch well, especially for people with swollen feet and ankles due to edema or poor blood flow. Unfortunately, their designs are all mostly-cotton, which is not best for fitness walking. Cotton retains moisture and as a result, you are more likely to get blisters from cotton socks than from socks made of technical fabrics such as polypropylene. They are made in the U.S.
PediFix Seamless Oversized Socks: These socks get great reviews from those who have larger ankles or are prone to getting swollen ankles. They are seamless and made of anti-microbial fabric. They are wide enough at the ankle for those who need the extra room and are available for both men and women. You can find them at major retailers such as Walmart as well as at online retailers such as Amazon.
Dr. Scholls formerly produced extra-wide crew socks, available in black and in white, but they no longer list them on their website. You may find them online in the closeout of the remaining stock. They are made of polyester, nylon, and spandex and would be suitable for use as walking socks.
FootSmart has diabetic extra-roomy socks made of acrylic, which would be better for fitness walking. They are designed with a super-stretch top for calves up to 23 inches in circumference.