Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Pressure Is On

If you've ever been to a triathlon, whether it was as a spectator or athlete, it's almost a sure thing that you saw somebody wearing what appeared to be knee-high socks.  Though that would be awesome, that's not exactly what they were.  They were either compression socks or a compression sleeve.

Compression Socks

Compression Sleeve
These little things have become quite the popular trend in the endurance sports world.  They may not look like much, but they actually do a very good job at making your legs feel better.  There's all sorts of articles on the internet that have opinions for or against compression, and whether or not they should be used in races or just as a recovery aid.  I'm not going to focus on what other people think.  I'm just going to explain my point of view and my personal experience.

I have a pair of the compression sleeves (I actually have a pair of what is pictured above).  When I did my first Ironman, I saw these things all over the place.  I didn't even know what they were until I did some research.  The jury is still out on scientific proof, but it seems that every person that uses them swears by them.  So I started to look into different brands and styles, and got pretty discouraged because it seemed like they were all on the pricey side.  Luckily, I have some awesome in-laws and they bought be a pair for Christmas (thanks John and Ronda!) a couple years back.

Since becoming the proud owner of these 2XU Compression Sleeves, not only have I had the wonderful opportunity to embarrass my wife by making a pretty ugly fashion statement, but I have been able to be pleasantly surprised by such a small piece or fabric!  I've used them in races and in training.  During races, I haven't seemed to notice a difference.  Theoretically, the compression garment prevents your muscles from doing any extra, unnecessary movement, and also assists your muscles in staying warm.  So, wearing them during a race should be beneficial.  Where I have personally felt the sleeves working is after I run.  More specifically, after I do a hard run and my calves feel like they might explode.

The other day, I did probably the most intense run workout I've ever done...I've done the same workout, just not as fast.  I could tell during the workout that my calves and shins were going to be sore.  After my workout, I jumped into a cold shower (it's like icing your ankle after you twist it) then immediately put on my sleeves and my legs felt great!  Once I took them off, they were only slightly sore.  No where near what they would have been without the sleeves!  I've recovered from many runs with and without the sleeves, and I personally feel that when I wear them immediately after a fun, they make my legs feel so much better.

So how do I use them?  Pretty simple actually.  I try to use them after every single run that I do.  Running is so tough on your legs, I figure I could use every type of recovery aid there is!  Immediately following a run, I do my normal post-workout routine...recovery shake and shower.  Once I'm all cleaned up, I slide on those super sexy sleeves.  My goal is to keep them on for twice as long as I worked out.  For example, if I ran one hour, I'd keep them on for two.  If I ran three hours, I'd keep them on for six.  Like I said, pretty simple.

I highly recommend you go out and get yourself a pair of these gifts from God.  Your legs will be thanking you for the rest of your life.  You will find that they can be a little expensive, but I feel that the benefit has been worth it.  I know that once mine lose their compression-ness, I'm going to pick me up another pair.  But, for those of you that don't want to spend your hard-earned dollars, there are cheaper options.  Compression socks are sold at most pharmacy locations.  Pharmacy compression socks do the exact same thing, but are nowhere near as sexy.  If this is the option you choose, I'd recommend you only use them for recovery, as some tri-specific compression socks are designed to be worn during workouts and pharmacy compression socks most likely are not.


  1. I'll let everyone in on a little secret.... Jason pretty much always wears shorts, so if he is wearing jeans (especially on a workout day) GUARANTEED he is wearing these suckers underneath! : )

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