Compression Sleeves

Last week one of my favorite bloggers Catlin (Rose Runner) asked why I wear compression sleeves.  Instead of answering it’s proper running technique or all the cool kids do it I thought I would write an entire post about it. 

First, I have a very awkward and odd running style.  I have always walked extremely far on my toes and when I began running I naturally began running very far on my toes.  I didn’t start running on my toes because Runners world and internet sources told me too. In fact I run further on my toes then most running people suggest.  That is just how I run.  Some people are heel strikers…I am an Ostrich runner.  I get mistaken more for a ballerina then a runner.  I have shoes with 1000+ miles on them that still have full tread on the heels.  If you ever see me at a race you will probably make fun of me like many other spectators.

Though I'm not wearing compression sleeves at this 5k, I think it gives a good example of my toe running.
Though I’m not wearing compression sleeves at this 5k, I think it gives a good example of my toe running.

I wear compression sleeves because no matter what I do my calves are always sore.  I could foam roller, stretch and do everything my deep tissue massager says but I will still always have tight calves.  I wear compression sleeves because they add another level of relief too.  I try and do everything to keep my calves from not being tight but normally don’t have much success.

Though I’m not entirely sure that compression sleeves work they mentally make me feel better.  I have had my best longer races (half marathons) wearing compression sleeves so mentally I’m afraid to not race longer distances in them.   I don’t really wear them a lot to shorter races.  I don’t have a reason why I don’t I just find myself at the starting line of a 5k not wearing them more often.

I have two types of sleeves that I like.

The Ultra Zensah Recovery when I’m sleeping.  They are very hard to get on and I think they provide the most blood flow to my calves (probably because they are so tight).  I will never run a race in them  because they make my legs feel like bricks.  I’ve run in them a few times (because I forgot to take them off and ran within five minutes of waking up in the morning) and I honestly struggled running a 9 minute mile.  Every run I’ve done in them has been miserable.

The CEP sleeves are my favorite “all purpose” compression sleeve.  I just feel faster when I run in them and I find they provide me with enough support without making my legs feel like bricks.

So yes, maybe compression sleeves work, maybe not.  For me I have found them to at least provide support to my always tight calves.  If anything they provide me with a mental crutch.

Questions for you:

If you do wear compression sleeves what kind? 

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  1. I’m one of those people that essentially lives in my compression sleeves/socks. I feel like they help me recover faster and I do almost always race in my socks. I sleep in sleeves but I haven’t tried out the CEP brand. I swear by procompression socks/zensah sleeves and they have both worked for me. I don’t know exaclty what they do but they feel good so I’m going to keep wearing them.

  2. I used to run in compression sleeves pretty often but not so much anymore. I just don’t think about it. I have chronically tight calves also and I feel like they help on some level. I wore them for the two half marathons and full marathon I did last fall, but I just PRed without them, so who knows. I have a black zensah pair and then another I’m not sure of the brand… but their full socks that cover my feet, too. Those are impossible to get on.

  3. When I first used compression sleeves, I was addicted. I wore them after every hard or long run. Now I don’t wear them so much. I think I prefer other ways for recovery like foam rolling or leg elevation

      1. Ice baths were too much for me. Haha! I just do really cold baths. Still does the trick

  4. I like this post, because instead of saying why OTHERS wear them you say why they are best for YOU. And no one should judge your toe running because you kick ass that way and well, that’s what matters.

  5. I am a huge fan of compression. This past week I splurged and purchased some zoot compression pants… literally the only time I have taken them off since my marathon on Saturday has been to shower. They feel so damn good!

  6. I love my compression gear! I’m the opposite of you — I have CEP socks, which are super tight, and my zensah sleeves. I pretty much only use both pairs for recovery. My legs tend to hurt if I try to wear them when I run!!

  7. Oh man, I couldn’t really vote because I’m more of a “yes, wear them occasionally after a race, or sometimes when I sleep, or if I remember on an airplane.” I have multiple pairs but never felt like they did much for me. I use CEP and Procompression. They mostly just make me feel claustrophobic! ha!
    I love that you are a toe runner! I’m a natural toe runner (and walker) too! My calves are always shredded after hard efforts!!

    1. Right! My calves are always the most sore after races (which is why I have come to love compression selves).

      I was going to over complicate that survey and had 10 or so answers and then realized that was a touch to much ha ha.

      1. Haha, I tend to overcomplicate things! Better to keep it simple. 😉

  8. I had a calf strain last summer and the only thing which helped was wearing compression sleeves and compression socks. The thing did NOT want to go away, but as soon as I started wearing them religiously it felt better by the hour. I swear by them. If you want to ever laugh at someone run, laugh at me. I look like a giraffe.

  9. Hey Hollie! I actually found your blog through instagram (weird, right?) but you’re already one of my favorite bloggers just because you finally explained to me what the heck compression sleeves are actually for!

    But seriously, your running story is awesome, going from nothing to a legit runner. I’m training for my second marathon now and will definitely be following along your blog as you train for yours. 😀

    1. Awe thanks for stopping by that means a lot. I’m glad I helped you out, there are so many things I see in the blogging world or internet that I have no clue what they are for.

      What marathon are you training for?

      1. I’m training for the Grand Rapids Marathon in Michigan, 2 weeks after the Chicago marathon. I just moved to Chicago from Florida and evidently that marathon fills up REALLY fast, so I had to go with the next best thing.

  10. I started wearing them at the beginning of the year, and I feel like they help with shin splints (I used to get them in HS track all the time) and recovering faster if I keep wearing them for a bit after the race/rugby event. I’m willing to bet it’s 90% mental, but they don’t feel like they are hurting/slowing me down, so I figure why stop wearing them. Plus now that fall is around, I like the shorts/calf sleeve combo 1000x more than wearing pants to stay warm.

    1. I’ve never had shin splints but have heard they do really help those. Even if it is mental, it’s always nice to feel mentally strong. At least that is what I tell myself 😛

      1. I didn’t have shin splints recently, but I figured why wait until they come back. I originally got them for the Lake Effect Half (For warmth), and never raced without them after that since I felt surprising good (like beat my previous PR by 25 min good).

  11. My boyfriend just got me CEP compression socks in June for my birthday but after that I didn’t run much from the injury so I haven’t had much use for them. My calves are super tight now with changing my strike so I’m using them more often. I want to run a race in them or run in them in general but I don’t have another pair yet and since I don’t have laundry at my apartment, I try to keep them as clean as possible for as long as possible.

  12. For the longest time I always questioned whether they actually worked or not in races, but accepted them as being good for post race/training. It wasn’t until I did the HHH 100 miler that I actually wore them in an event and I am now a convert.

    When I go on long rides I wear them and whenever my next race is I will wear them as well. I have cycled over 400 miles in the past two weeks along with some running and every long ride is with the compression socks on and I am not sure I could have made it through those two weeks without them.

    I use the CEP socks. I need to get sleeves for racing triathlon since socks in the swim will not be a good thing.

  13. I was just a recent compression sleeves user and I love it! 🙂 It definitely lessened muscle fatiguability and helps in the recovery after my long runs.

  14. Love compression sleeves/socks! I have Zensah socks, Tommie Copper calf sleeves, and Pro Compression socks. Mike has some other kinds of sleeves too. I wear them all the time, even my pink ones to work.

  15. I had no idea you struggle with sore calves! That’s my biggest ‘soreness’ issue with running too! I have compression sleeves but hardly ever wear them. Now I want to experiment with them a bit more to see if they help with my tightness too! Thanks for the info.

  16. I like running on my toes. I used to always run on my heels and once I bought fivefingers and ran barefoot for probably 10 or so miles (split up, not at once) and got used to it, I prefer it way more. I don’t know if I could go back to heel striking. I always felt so jarred after running (my two miles for the Army, haha) and it really does seem to just feel better. I have compression socks but I only ever wore them for rope climbing so I didn’t tear up my shins. I was actually thinking about them the other day cause I was washing the ex’s and was curious as to whether or not they help. Maybe I’ll try them one time.

  17. I’m a huge fan of CEP compression sleeves; they’re the only ones on the market that offer medical grade compression. 😉 (#iworkatarunningstore) And it’s funny you mention compression because I wore my neon orange sleeves all day yesterday because my calves are still tight from this weekend. Even though they do help, I think they also provide a huge mental boost/relief.

  18. CEP is my favorite, though I wear the socks and not the sleeves, but I like that the sizes are based on calf size, not foot size. I would run in them, but it is just too hot right now.

  19. Your form clearly works–so interesting. When I do “sprints” around the track, I feel myself centered way more on my toes. Maybe you are practically sprinting when you race, no matter what distance?!

    CEP. I’m now interested. Thanks again! Love non-sponsored reviews.

  20. I find myself wearing compression sleeves after a long day of class where I didn’t get to walk around and move very much. They help the blood flow. 😉

  21. I have CEP and ProCompression. I think the CEP fit better personally. I used to only wear them for marathons, until I “tried” them for a 5K, now I won’t run a race without them.

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