Most days I don’t pay much attention to what I wear. It’s one of the perks of working at home — I don’t have to dress to impress. I probably wear 10% of my wardrobe 90% of the time. My favorite jeans, a handful of faded T-shirts, and two comfortable sweatshirts get the most wear.

The one item of clothing I do pay attention to is socks. Pulling on the right pair of socks can be a transformative experience and help me kick off the day fully energized.

I haven’t always had a love affair with socks. I used to wear plain white cotton socks and never gave them much thought. If I had to dress up, I’d wear dark socks that always crept down my legs and sagged just above my shoes. It was irritating. Then, about 12 years ago, I had ankle surgery. Afterwards, a nurse recommended medical compression socks, which were sold in the hospital’s onsite store.

She told me that a lot of nurses wear the socks because the tightness, or compression, improves blood flow, which helps reduce swelling, pain, and fatigue. This is beneficial for people like nurses who are on their feet for extended periods of time, and for people like me who have chronic ankle pain.

However, the $30 price tag that day in the hospital dissuaded me from buying them. But my wife, who never has a problem spending money, convinced me to buy them. I’m glad she did. The socks are super tight, so I had to wrestle to get them on. Once they were on, I could feel the difference immediately. They felt like they were rejuvenating my lower legs and aching ankles. More than a decade later, I’m still wearing that same pair and have bought a couple more.

I tried some cheaper compression socks that I bought at a retailer, but they weren’t the same. The fabric was thinner, they didn’t compress as tight, then they stretched out and became worthless. The good ones are worth the extra money.

In addition to medical compression socks, my top dresser drawer is filled with soft wool socks for days when I can’t seem to warm up, ankle socks for when I go to the gym, and some new compression socks that use different materials than my medical socks, which makes them ultra-comfortable.

I was at a conference in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. A couple of the exhibitors were giving away socks. The socks had nothing to do with the conference, which was about health care, or what the exhibitors were selling, which was health care technology. Yet the companies knew the high-quality Bombas socks they handed out would make a positive impression on attendees, which translated to a positive impression about their own brands.

Socks are now popular prizes. Monster Energy was giving them away, along with other merchandise, to customers who sent in a certain number of can tabs. The company ran out of socks in just a few weeks, but still has the other prizes.

When I was on the Shakopee Youth Football Association board, we gave away hats to any player who sold five or more boxes of beef jerky. Then we switched to socks for players who hit the five box threshold. They were an instant hit. It seemed like all of the kids wanted Saber socks, and who could blame them? They were new, looked good, promoted the Sabers, and motivated players to sell jerky to support the program.

Several people I know have “lucky” socks. Some are student athletes who wear the socks on game days to support their team and so they can have a big game on the field. There’s actually some science behind that belief that socks can help an athlete’s performance. Wearing supposedly lucky socks can influence the athlete’s psychology, which in turn improves performance. According to stories I’ve read, tennis superstar Serena Williams wears the same pair of socks for every match in a tournament. Other athletes have similar superstitions with their socks.

Non-athletes also believe that socks can be lucky. I know people who wear their lucky socks for job interviews, first dates, when making big business deals, or any other significant event when they need an extra boost of good fortunate. Personally, I feel lucky, or at least happy, to have comfortable socks to wear every day.

Brett Martin is a community columnist who’s been a Shakopee resident for over 15 years.


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