I jumped on the compression wagon a couple of weeks ago because I wanted to see if
1. compression would help some minor aches and pains I've had while running
2. How my recovery would turn out if I used compression as support afterwards. Plus I knew I'd be dealing with seven hours in the car after my first half marathon of the season, and I thought help wouldn't hurt.
After perusing blogs and sites, I settled on trying the CEP calf compression sleeves (in pink!). A few people mentioned how compression socks can get bulky in the tennis shoe, so I thought the sleeve would still do the work it was supposed to do, and I wouldn't have to adjust from the socks that I've been running in (which happen to have compression bands around the arch—love them!)
I've had several minor aches lately that I'm trying not to go all hypochondriac on.
*My calves have been cramping while I run probably because of a little too much tightness and not enough water. I have a huge dehydration issue.
*My left Achilles tendon has started to ache and felt tight while I was running. I wanted to nip that problem in the bud because I am NOT about to deal with tendonitis.
*And, my outer shin muscles/tendon have been extremely tight and somewhat sore while I'm working after run days (I stand all day, and not in supportive shoes like my trainers.)
So, I've been stretching more, but I also opted to try compression.
I'll let CEP explain my choice:
WHY COMPRESSION?“Every muscle cell needs energy in the form of oxygen. This is transported to the muscles via the blood. The better the blood flow in the arteries, the better the muscles are supplied – and precisely this supply can be positively influenced by compression.”
Plus, their site suggests compression for all of my issues:
Shin Splints: (Don't have these, but thought it would still help the shin ache.)
Reduces vibration, increases oxygen and promotes healing.
Calf Cramps: Increase oxygen to optimize muscles, removes lactic acid.
Achilles Issues:Increases oxygen to the Achilles; padding prevents damage.
I'm the type of person who will TRI anything, and I wanted to see if compression would really help my issues. I had to give it the chance to make me a believer.
The website sizes the sleeves to the actual measurements of your calves. I’m a fairly petite girl so I figured I would end up with a small like just about everything else I order. But here’s the thing. I have massive calves. I mean, huge.
Bigger then the chicken-legged body builders that always hung out at my University gym.
I like my calves. I’m proud of my calves. So thinking I’d need a small was just silly.
I measured at the widest part like they suggested a got 15.5 inches around. Which was the low end of size IV or large. Pretty much the biggest size I can get as a woman.
I was iffy, but I’ve never had trouble in the past when I actually measure a body part and order clothes to fit.
When I received the sleeves, I had to learn how to put them on since they are tight (Thanks CEP for the how-to guide.) And boy were they snuggly. But a perfect fit.
I only received the sleeves about two weeks before the race. For my weekly morning runs, which were around 5 miles, I decided to try only wearing one sleeve at first on my left leg since the Achilles pain was my major concern. And, for the couple of runs I used it, it dulled the pain while running.
My last long run before the half was a 10 miler which I stretched into an 11, and I wore the sleeves the whole run. They really helped my cramping issue, and kept the Achilles pain at bay. I had no issues whatsoever while running. I then tried the sleeves out the rest of the day to help with recovery; I wore them to church, then around the house until about the middle of the afternoon. My calves/shins/Achilles didn’t bother me at all the next day.
And then on my run days, I tried wearing the sleeves at work since I stand all day to help get rid of the side shin pain. They actually really helped with that issue.
But then, my race happened. After my good fortune, I slipped on the sleeves for my 13.1 hoping for a pain free race.
I don't know what the factors were, but about the 10k mark, my calves were TIGHT. I think a lot of it had to do with not being hydrated well enough for the race, but for some reason, I wanted to take the sleeves off the whole run.
But I also didn't want to stop since I was shooting for a PR.
So I left them on probably causing more worse for the wear because after the race my calves were extremely tight and sore. I stretched majorly but left the sleeves off to let my legs breathe.
They were sweaty and smelly and I mostly just stretched and iced my calves on the car ride to Chicago.
So I'm at a mixed verdict. I had one super good long run with the sleeves and one not so good run. But, I did have some good short run experience in between; the sleeves really helped my Achilles pain, and I had good results during my workday after running in the morning.
Right now, I'm a beleive 'em and they get an 8 (out of 10).*
I'll experiment on some more long runs and after running recovery, and see how I feel then. They’ll be a review part 2.
Though, I’m itching to try the full socks now. Especially for recovery.
Check out www.cepcompression.com or @CEPCompression for more information
As with most things running... everything, even gear, is a listen to your body moment. But sometimes, I just gotta tri it.
Passing the Baton: What are your thoughts on compression? It is a before, during, or after use for you? Have you tried the CEP sleeves for any issues or recovery? Believe ‘em or Leave ‘em? Or do you like the full sock better
*Disclaimer. I was not paid to write this review. In fact, I even bought the compression sleeves myself. All of the thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone based on personal experience with the product. 100% honesty. CEP was promised a positive review, they just happened to get it.