The cushioning properties of athletic socks: an impact testing perspective

Background: One of the aims of the sock/shoe unit is to reduce the severity of impact forces on the lower extremity although the injury prevention potential of the sock through the attenuation of impact force has yet to be established. This study aims to determine the effect of athletic socks and a sock/shoe unit on peak impact force, time to peak impact force and loading rate using an impact testing methodology.

Methods: An impact testing system with a gravity driven vertical impact striker (8.5kg) fitted with a load cell (10,000Hz) which was released from 0.05m to impact the specimen on the vertical axis (impact velocity=0.99m·s(-1)) was used throughout the study.

Findings: All socks reduced peak impact force by between 6% and 20% when compared to a no sock control condition. Furthermore, large significant correlation coefficients (r=.62 to .72) were observed between thickness and peak impact force, time to peak impact force and loading rate in the sock only condition.

Interpretation: Athletic socks demonstrate cushioning properties under impact testing conditions.

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