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Discussion: leg compression - a bunch I've tried

in: Adventure Racing; Gear & Toys

Nov 19, 2012 11:48 PM # 
I've been wearing leg compression for quite a long time now, and thought it might be time to share what has worked for me. Its' a bit long winded, so I'll put the details in a link that I will update as I learn more.

Short version: custom prescription compression rules, if it is fitted by the right person.
In tights of Zoots, Sugoi, Skins, 2XU: Zoots have the best compression, but are a bit annoying. Sugoi and Skins are easy to wear and have noticeable compression.
In sleeves/socks of Zoots, Zensah, Skins, CEP and Sugoi: I like Zensah and CEP best and won't wear out the Skins.

I'm an active guinea pig for these, so I'll try any suggestions.
Here's the link
Nov 21, 2012 4:37 AM # 
I don't think anyone else has anywhere *close* to that much experience so I'm not sure how many suggestions you'll get!

I've been using Salomon compression gear, primarily for long runs and recovery although I just got some new warmer compression tights that I'm going to try using as long johns for XC skiing.

Most of my experience has been with compression capri tights or long compression shorts used with compression calf sleeves. I also have some compression shirts but although they feel good, I don't notice a difference in performance with them. As you do, I sometimes use the compression calf sleeves as my only piece of compression wear - including under street clothes for a day or two after a long race. I haven't done a trail ultra without compression wear on my legs so I can't really say that I've done a fair experiment - but I don't really want to try! :)
Nov 21, 2012 3:39 PM # 
my faves...CW-X for tights and CEP for full-calf socks. I've tried 2XU tights and they were just tights on me, no compression action. I've tried the Swiftwick full-calf socks "Podium" style which I don't believe they make anymore, and they are nice but a little too restrictive for me.

CEP offers the "Clone" program which might be similar to custom prescription. I know Canadian healthcare is different but I'm curious if some American insurance would cover part/all of the cost. The Clone is $190-$300 depending on item/quantity.

Like Bash, I mostly use these items for post-workout recovery, because they just "feel good". That is enough hard evidence for me. When the CW-X tights wear out (which they do after about a year) then they are just tights and I use them for training/racing.
Nov 21, 2012 4:02 PM # 
I'll look into the CEP clone program. Thanks. The pricing is in line with the prescription ones I've been getting.
Nov 21, 2012 7:48 PM # 
I'm using Unleash Compression (tights) and i love it, mostly for recovery.

I'm also using compression socks for recovery and calf for racing (swiftwick). So far so good.
Nov 21, 2012 7:52 PM # 
Oops, my double negative was misleading. I use compression wear on my lower body for all my ultra running - calf sleeves + compression shorts or capris. I also use calf sleeves or compression socks for recovery. I sometimes wear compression tops but only because they look pretty; I don't feel any "technical" advantage. :)
Nov 21, 2012 9:45 PM # 
Carbon's Offset:
Much like many of you, I don't notice any performance advantage from the compression wear during racing, but do believe it makes a difference on recovery. I'm a very big fan of good compression socks, partly because they simply feel really good to wear (a nice squeezing hug on your calves).

Last year, my training program included running about 5 days a week, so I would often have back-to-back days of running. I got used to how my legs would feel during a run where I had run the day before: a bit sore, a bit tired, a bit beat up from the run yesterday. When I did my first "day after run" after wearing compression socks between the runs, it was definitely noticeable that my legs didn't feel as beat up as they usually would from the day before. I wasn't expecting the socks to make much difference, so I don't think this was a placebo effect. In fact, I was surprised how much better my *quads* felt than usual, even though the sock only goes up to your knee. I believe this has something to do with increasing the circulation through your entire leg.
FYI, the two socks I've been using have been CEP and Sigvaris. The CEP have an especially good, exact shape. They are a little tough to put on but really feel like they are shaped to your foot and lower leg. The Sigvaris are also good but I have a bit of a preference for the fit of my CEPs.
I also have CEP calf sleeves. I wear these at times when I really prefer to wear my sock of choice (in adventure races, or ultra distance runs).
I also have CW-X tights. I do not like to race or train in these because I find that they restrict my movement - I feel like I am working against them, like an elastic resistance. I use them just for recovery.
After my first ultra (50 miles; I'd never run more than 38 km before that), I donned my compression socks and CW-X tights and slept in them that night (although most sources recommend against sleeping in compression socks). I was so achy from the race that I barely slept that night. When I got up in the morning, I expected to be unable to walk. Instead, I had next to no effects from the run the day before. I can't say how much of this was the compression wear, but I think it helped.
Nov 21, 2012 9:46 PM # 
Carbon's Offset:
And just to clarify: I'm not sponsored by any compression wear manufacturers. I paid for them myself. So, no bias.
Nov 21, 2012 10:03 PM # 
I am sponsored by Salomon but I've paid for most of my compression wear because it sells out so quickly that they rarely have much left over to give their non-elite sponsored athletes.

I really *do* feel a difference with lower body compression while I'm running. I'm not sure that "performance" is the right word but in the longest runs I do (up to 22 hours so far), it feels really good to have long compression shorts "hugging" my thighs and preventing unnecessary motion of miscellaneous body parts. It's like the difference between a shoe with a tight precision fit vs. a loose sloppy fit. I haven't had "cankles" since I started using calf sleeves for longer races, even though I sleep without them post-race (with legs elevated on pillows).
Nov 21, 2012 11:49 PM # 
Carbon's Offset:
Yes, it was the massive cankles at RTNX 2011 that made me start considering the compression socks. I had planned to wear my CW-X tights for recovery right after the race, but forgot to bring them. My calves, ankles and feet were so swollen that it felt like the skin would burst; it hurt. I wrapped tensor bandages around my lower legs and searched the two pharmacies in Rossland for compression socks. They didn't have any. Carbon wouldn't walk on the same side of the street as me, in my tensor bandages and shorts, but one pharmacist thought they were perfect: adjustable compression that could be re-sized as the swelling reduced.
Nov 22, 2012 1:46 PM # 
Carbon's Offset:
Bash: just to clarify, I definitely wasn't referring to your comments with my "not sponsored" comment. I know that you are too analytical and honest to give anything but an unbiased review. :)
I do sometimes run into cases when you ask racers for their recommendations and you get a list that matches their list of sponsors, so I sometimes take those recommendations with a grain of salt.
Nov 22, 2012 3:49 PM # 
No worries, I didn't take it that way but since you made a point of mentioning your lack of sponsors, I thought it only fair to confess that I had one!
Nov 22, 2012 6:05 PM # 
I wear compression during activity for medical reasons. With a significant venous deficiency, I literally couldn't be very active without full compression on my legs. As a reference point without compression it is a challenge to make the 1 km walk to the corner store - maybe 30 m of elevation. With good tights I can walk an hour. With prescription full leg stockings I can walk for a few hours.

The prescription compression I wear let's me ride a recumbent as long as I want to. My longest is 8 hours, but I could have ridden farther. The difference is so significant, it makes me wonder how many people who don't need compression would benefit from it. In hindsight, I know I would have been better off if I had started wearing compression before I needed to.
Nov 22, 2012 11:35 PM # 
Carbon's Offset:
Wow veinbuster, it sounds like you've put compression through a much more signficant test than any of us. I look forward to diving into your link!
Feb 18, 2015 4:42 PM # 
Does anyone have any experience with using calf compression sleeves to aid with something like a pulled calf muscle?
Feb 25, 2015 3:51 AM # 
Look up Mobility WOD's voodoo floss texhniques (you can use old mtb tubes) on

think of ART + compression To treat niggles.

This discussion thread is closed.