Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Review: CEP All Sport Compression Calf Sleeves

As promised, today I will give a short-term review the calf sleeves I have been using recently.  I very well may change my opinion (for the better or worse) down the road, but if so, I will come back and do a long-term review.

I know there has been some talk about compression socks lately.  Tawnee @ Tri*Tawn gave some helpful information HEREAmanda @ 5 Miles Past Empty did a review and giveaway of CEP socks not too long ago as well; read it HERE.  I know plenty of you have chimed in recently to my questions about compression socks and plenty of you wear them yourselves, while some of you adamantly turn away.  So it seems that compression wear is not only a topic of interest and debate in the field of athletics, but also in this small circle (or whatever type of shape more adequately describes all of our connections) of blogs.  So here is my contribution:

The productCEP All Sport Compression Calf Sleeve

Size:  Men III  (My calf measured 14.5 inches)
Color:  Black
Place of Purchase:  Newington Bike Shop (local bike shop)
Price: $39.99

What do compression socks do?
I by no means claim I know much of anything about the science behind compression wear, but in my experience, they serve two purposes; holding muscles in place and promoting healthy blood flow.  People wear them for many, many reasons, but for myself (an athlete, specifically a triathlete), I would wear them to delay the feeling of fatigue, avoid blood collecting in my extremities, or for faster recovery.

Why did I purchase the socks?
As I talk about now and again, I get a good number of shin splint episodes.  They seem to come every week or two after starting to run, I take a few days off, they go away, I start running again and they return, etc.  I've been looking for ways to get over this and after trying less mileage, softer surface, changes in form, I eventually got to the idea of compression socks.  A number of people have mentioened them to me as an idea.  Personally, I never though tight socks would be the cure to shin splints.  But think about it.  What is the treatment for shin splints, RICE; rest, ice, compress, and elevate.  Compress is right in the general guidelines for treatment.  Now I agree that science has not shown any use for compression wear, but after hearing so many people rave about them, I couldn't ignore the possibility that they were onto something.  I "bit the bullet" so to say and went ahead and gave them a try.

Why did I go for calf sleeves instead of socks?
I personally prefer to go without socks.  That’s the only real reason I went for sleeves.

Comfort
If you’ve never worn compression socks (I never had before), know that “compression” equals “tight.”  When I tried them on at the store, it took me a good full two minutes to put just one on; and these are just sleeves, not full socks.  After having them for a week, however, I’ve gotten much more efficient and I can get both on in one minute.  Wearing them during the day or overnight is quite easy.  They are snug compared to regular socks, but quite comfortable.  Just like most other clothing, you forget they're there after awhile. 

Use
I have used the sleeves mainly for recovery, trying to keep the shins from “splinting.”  I take them off for showers and swimming.  I’ve also used them while on the bike trainer.  Thus far I have refrained from using them on a run for two reasons.  A) It’s warm enough to run just in running shorts, so I’d prefer to avoid extra heat and B) I didn’t want to make them smell from sweat right away. (POST EDIT: I went for a run in the calf sleeves - read my thoughts HERE). 

How have they worked?
The reason I got them was for shin splints, so I’ll touch on that first.  Honestly, I thought I noticed a difference the first couple days – my shins felt much better than normal.  That could also have been just a coincidence.  I have gone running since and the splints came back, so at this point, as much as I agree that the idea of compression makes sense to help prevent and treat shin splints, I am not convinced that the sleeves have made much of a difference.

On another note, however, I have noticed that my calves have felt more fresh, relaxed, and training ready.  Again, I can’t say it’s more than just a coincidence, but now that I have the sleeves, I certainly won’t stop wearing them other than just to test out the theory (see if my calves get more tired without them).

Heat.  As a person who generates plenty of his own heat, I doubt I’d be able to wear the sleeves out in a race.  I was running around with a group of kids today at work for 10-15 minutes and at that point I already noticed my legs feeling quite warm.  I will still test them out on a run some day and I’d love to find a pair that acted both as compression and cooling sleeves, but that may be asking too much.

Final thoughts
I’m a critical person.  As a scientist, you tend to become as such – that or critical people tend to become scientists.  I'm also very functional.  Anyone will tell you, when it comes to my wallet, if I don't have a use for something, it could come in every color under the sun and make toast and I wouldn't care.  Either way, I am very much critical of the actual use of compression socks since they are still relatively new.  However, the facts about and uses for them make logical sense.  Your muscles move around both as your body moves and as your muscles contract.  Keeping your muscles in place as you move and they contract should help save energy.  Many people also have less than optimal blood circulation.  Compression helps keep your blood from collecting in the lower extremities.  I’ve heard from many people who use compression socks simply while they’re at work and rave about how much better they feel by the end of a long day.  I also know that blood collecting in the ankles can be a problem for a lot of long endurance events.  Compression sleeves (and more likely socks) will absolutely help that.

As many people will say (and have already said), tons of athletes have trained harder, raced harder, and still managed to go without this technology.  Do I have circulation issues?, nothing I know of yet.  Will holding my muscles stationary help me feel better?, I can’t tell.  But at this point, I feel a difference and if it continues, I’m a believer. I'm going to continue wearing them.

For those more interested in compression SOCKS than SLEEVES, or simply the differences between the two, I will have the opportunity to test out the Sigvaris Athletic Performance Socks in the near future.  I'll let you know when that gets close!


 Did I convince you to get a pair?  

Haha.  I don’t presume to have convinced you of anything.
  I simply hope that I’ve stirred some curiosity.   

If you're interested in looking at products, check out the CEP line at cepsock.com.  You can also compare the CEP compression wear products with those by CW-X, Jobst, Juzo, Activa, and Sigvaris at socksforathletes.com.

If you check out either site, you'll notice a Live Chat; that is my friend Jackie.  She’s an absolutely extraordinary lady who I talked to for quite awhile today who'd be more than happy to answer any questions you have about compression socks by all the companies listed above.


Tell her I sent you over.


Questions
1.  What are your thoughts on compression socks?

2.  For those who have compression socks, what made you get them?


Stay fit.  Stay healthy. 

11 comments:

Coy Martinez said...

I do have a pair of compression socks. I bought them to wear for the last marathon that I ran. I can have crazy circulation problems so for me I think they helped, if I had to put a number on it, I think they made me feel about 20% better than I would have without them.

I don't wear them each time I run but I do make it a point to wear them on my long runs.

Liz@FitLizzy.com said...

I love your blog! I love shin sleeves too :) I bought a pair after getting the worst shin splints of my life last year before a ten mile race. I have McDavid neopreen shin sleeves:

http://www.amazon.com/McDavid-441R-Del-Calf-Support/dp/B000UVZMNY

Super cheap and allow me to run long distances with a couple bags of frozen peas for after :)

Samantha said...

I like compression socks - I only wear them on long runs though.

Thanks for sending me the link to the other 'ugly race photos' blog post :)

p.s. - congrats on your awesome shout-out from tall mom!

Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

Hey Kurt! Tall Mom gave you a nice shout out today so I popped over to say hi.

Compression wear. I love it! I believe in it's ability to speed recovery and in fact I believe from my experience in it's ability to delay fatigue. My experience may not be everyone's but I have been and will continue to wear my compress socks and short tights when I am actively race training or recoverying.

FYI: I am a heat generator also. I wore my CEP short tights during my last two trail 50ks and did not get too warm but I did not wear the socks until after.

Jenn said...

Great Blog! I am using Zensah Compression Sleeves for wicked shin splints, usually after a run as I haven't worked up to any long runs yet (newbie runner!)

Jen said...

Love reading your review - I am new to running and have heard great things about compression socks, but I have not tired them.

5 Miles 2 Empty said...

Nice review! I got mine because the CEP lady asked me to review them. I may not have spent the money on my own. But now that I have them I do like them for recovery only. I did a few runs in mine and like you mentioned, I was way too hot and they were too tight for my liking. so recovery only for me! And they did wonders for me and my shin...so maybe with more time?? you the critic and me the dreamer! =)

Colleen said...

Great honest review!

I have compression socks, but I don't run in them. I love them for after the race and do think that they help my muscles recover, but I just haven't jumped on the bandwagon of wearing them during a race. I wore Zensah sleeves during my last marathon and they didn't make a difference in my opinion...

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Gail Forcewind said...
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