The effect of socks on vertical and anteroposterior ground reaction forces in walking and running

Tim Blackmore, Nick Ball, Joanna Scurr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background -  Previous research suggests that socks may have the potential for injury protection through the absorption and/or redistribution of impact forces. However, there is limited research regarding the shock attenuation qualities of athletic socks in sporting populations and previously observed pressure reductions have not been quantified using a force plate.

Objective - Firstly to identify the effect of specialist athletic socks on vertical and anteroposterior ground reaction forces (GRFs) during walking and running. Secondly, to compare GRFs between specialist socks, non-specialist socks and barefoot walking and running conditions.

Methods -  Following ethical approval participants (n = 5) completed five walking (1.52–1.68 m s−1) and running (3.8–4.2 m s−1) trials, unshod, over a force plate. This was completed before and after a 5000 m run (3.2 m s−1) in their own trainers in three conditions; barefoot, non-specialist socks and specialist running socks.

Results - Significant differences were identified between barefoot and specialist sock conditions for pre-intervention time to impact peak (F = 3.110(2), P = .05, r = .11) and maximum propulsive force (F = 8.126(2), P = .001, r = .25) when walking. Post hoc analysis identified an increase of .0016 s in time to impact peak when walking barefoot compared to the specialist sock condition (T = −7.402(4), P = .002, r = .71). During walking the specialist sock also demonstrated a significant decrease of .075 BWs in maximum propulsive force when compared to the barefoot condition (T = −7.624(4), P = .002, r = .79). Both significant effects diminished following the 5000 m run.

Conclusion -  Findings suggest that the specialist running sock has limited effects on GRFs and therefore may be responsible for a limited degree of shock attenuation experienced during walking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-5
JournalThe Foot
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


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