When it comes to training and racing, compression socks are all the rage. But if you are not quite ready to give up your anklets for an old-school looking knee high, compression leg sleeves may be a good way to ease into the transition.
I first saw Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves at the Gore-Tex TransRockies Run. Seems that many of the elite trail runners were sporting compression sleeves instead of socks, both on the trail and off for recovery.
A recent convert to compression socks, I was attracted to the Zensah sleeves for a couple of reasons. First, they seemed like they would be easier to get on than a pair of compression socks. Second, I actually like the way they look.
I recently wear tested a pair of Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves on a 20-mile marathon training run and a 10-mile trail run.
My initial impression about the ease of use was correct. My CEP Running O2 Compression Socks (see review) provide excellent squeeze, but they're so tight it takes a few minutes to pull them up. I donned the Zensah leg sleeves with little effort and found that they still offered plenty of compression and support.
While a few companies make leg sleeves, Zensah technology is a little different. They use a proprietary fabric that is thermo regulating. Although temperatures were in the low 70s on both of my runs, I never felt like I was overheating due to the sleeves.
Zensah makes the only leg sleeve that incorporates pin-point compression for each muscle group and tendon. In terms of performance, the sleeves felt a lot like my compression socks. They are both supposed to increase oxygen blood flow, compress the shin and calf muscles, reduce recovery time and ease muscle vibration.
Although some studies have found the benefits of compression technology may be in my head instead of my legs, I disagree. My legs definitely feel fresher both during and after my long runs when I wear either a compression sleeve or sock. Maybe believing in their restorative power is the key, in which case, I believe.
While I realize style shouldn't be a factor, I prefer the looks of my Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves to my compression socks. For some reason, I always feel a bit dorky in the socks, but there's something about that little bit of skin that shows around the ankle that gives the sleeves an added "cool" factor.
Another benefit, sleeves work with any sock. So if you're really attached to a specific brand of anklet, you don't need to make a change.
Zensah compression sleeves can be worn before, during and after training. They retail for $39.99 a pair, and come in a rainbow of colors. And if you still prefer the old-school knee high look, Zensah also makes compression socks, with the same thermo regulating fabric and pin-point compression as the sleeves.
* Zensah provided the leg sleeves for review.
Kimberly Bontempo Bogin is the national Marathon Examiner and the Trail Running Examiner for Examiner.com. She's a three-time Emmy Award winning television producer and writer with 16 years of experience in the field. She's also a wear tester for a major running shoe company. Kimberly has participated in some of the biggest marathons in the country, including the ING New York City Marathon, the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Marathon and the Rock 'n' Roll Denver Marathon. She will be running the Boston Marathon in April of 2011.