Research Finds Some Socks Better than Others
help athletes and diabetics
Contact: Jennifer Faddis
Sr. Information Specialist
COLUMBIA, Mo. - A painful blister is often the by-product of a
sweaty sock. But, that is not the only reason a team of University
of Missouri-Columbia biological engineering students decided to put
athletic socks to the test to find out what constitutes a good sock
versus a bad one. Knowing which socks are best could be meaningful
information for diabetics with serious circulation problems and
people who wear prosthetic devices.
The team started by developing a device to test 10 popular brands of
athletic socks. The testing device uses a stepper motor to tilt a
Plexiglas form that holds the sock material against a platform at a
set pressure. The device calculates the point at which the material
slips against the platform, which reveals its coefficient of
friction (COF). Blisters are more likely to develop the higher the
COF where the sock and shoe meet. Moisture makes the problem worse;
that's why tests were conducted in a humidity chamber.
"We found that 100 percent cotton socks were usually
the worst especially when a person started to sweat," said Robert
Mooney, MU biological engineering student.
The team also found that money doesn't matter. The higher priced
socks did not test any better than the inexpensive brands. The
material that composed the sock is the key. All cotton performed
poorly while nylon faired much better.
The benefits of the research are not aimed solely at athletes. The
students said the research can help diabetics and those who wear
prosthetic devises. The team is hopeful their device could help
develop standards for use in sock manufacturing.
"This is about helping diabetics who have circulation problems and
figuring out where they need specific materials in their socks,"
said Lisa Huhman, biological engineering student at Mizzou. "We find
out where diabetics have skin trauma and target those areas. This
isn┐t just about helping athletes prevent blisters."
"If I were a jogger or a runner looking for a pair of socks, I would
look for a pair that had different compositions of materials in
different parts of the sock," Huhman said. "I would not want a sock
that was overall cotton. I might look for a sock that had some of
those synthetic materials that were proven to be better."
On the Net:
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