People often ask me often what I think the most important piece of safety equipment is for a particular sport. I know I catch them off guard when, instead of saying a helmet, mouth guard, shin guard, or safety goggles (all of which are very important, of course), I say that it is best-made and best-fitting pair of shoes and socks which are the critical to a successful day of activities.
I know first-hand and from reading studies that buying shoes for your child that fit properly is extremely important. Unfortunately, a recent study found that a majority of kids wear shoes that are too small, which put them at risk for developing serious foot deformities, such as bunions.
While allowing kids to wear shoes they have outgrown is certainly understandable, especially when finances are tight and the temptation to pass down shoes is great, I also know that ill-fitting shoes and socks cannot only lead to foot problems down the road, but cause immediate pain and discomfort which can even affect athletic performance. The feet are individualized launching pads; therefore, it is critically important that they are protected in sports. When we walk, the pressure on our feet exceeds our body weight, and when we're running, it can be three or four times our weight.
While there are lots of studies and good information available on the importance of shoes, not nearly as much is said about the importance of socks. When they were growing up, my three sons never quite understood why I was always so adamant in making sure that they each wore a fresh pair of really well-made socks to school every day, and had a spare pair in their backpack or lockers; not just any old pair, but top-of-the-line socks.
During summer vacations my sons, like their dad, went away to Pok-O-MacCready Camp in upstate New York which is famous for its hiking of "Forty Sixers" - the 46 peaks in the Adirondack Mountains over 4,000 feet. The camp was rustic without many of the comforts of home. After coming back from camp, my sons always made a special point of thanking me for packing a dozen or so pairs of padded socks to wear while hiking in the High Peaks. It was my own way of letting them know I cared.
Corny? No, not al all. In fact, it has become a Christmas tradition for my sons to give a great pair of socks as a gift to everyone in our immediate family. It is gesture that I have always appreciated, because it says "no matter how cold or damp or lousy the day has been, if your feet are dry and warm, you know I love and care about you."
Recognizing just how important socks are, when the Statesville, North Carolina maker of Thorlo socks expressed an interest in becoming a sponsor of MomsTEAM Youth Sports Safety Institute, it seemed like a natural fit (pun intended), not just because my sons and I have been wearing Thorlo athletic socks for decades, but because of the company's commitment to making socks meeting the highest standards for quality and performance. No wonder Thorlo's motto is, "We don't make 'socks', we protect your feet."
MomsTEAM is proud to have Thorlo join us as corporate underwriter to help us continue, as we have for the past 15 years, to provide, free of charge, the best youth sports health, safety and product information on the Internet.
Curious about the Thorlo story? Watch and see how a family's simple dream, a set of core values, Southern craftsmanship, and a vision to be the caretaker of the world's feet became the brand now known as Thorlos.
Never tried Thorlo socks? Click here for your free pair. Have a son or daughter playing soccer, baseball, softball, or lacrosse this spring sports season? Discover Thorlo's fabulous new socks for cleated shoes.
Brooke de Lench is Executive Director of MomsTEAM Youth Sports Safety Institute, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit advocacy, educational and watchdog group for children and adolescent athletes whose mission for the past 15 years is to providing sports parents and all stakeholders with comprehensive, well-researched and practical information, best practice resources and solutions to keep student- athletes safe physically, psychologically, and sexually. She is the Founder of MomsTEAM.com, producer of the PBS documentary, The Smartest Team: Making High School Football Safer, and author of Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports. You can follow Brooke on Twitter @brookedelench.