I've been curious about compression sleeves for a while. My weak link has always been my calves and the thought that there might be something out there that could stop my calves from begging "make it stop!!" during a distance event has been very appealing.
So when the lovely people at Shortt Supply here in Hood River loaned me a pair to try out, I was all over it. Here's my take on these silly little sleeves that scream "Tri-Geek" like nothing I've seen in the last few years.
Zensah Calf/shin compression sleeves
I've only used the sleeves twice, once for our sprint distance club workout and yesterday for a workout called the Triple Threat. I wore the sleeves under my wetsuit at the sprint Tri which worked well. They stayed in place in transition and I didn't have to mess with them at all. They are not particularly quick drying which is not a problem here in the summer but could be if you were starting a race in cooler temperatures. It felt like my calves were contracting more efficiently sooner on the bike, like the sleeves had a warm-up effect. I did not notice any calf pain on the run but that's not unusual though for such a short run.
Yesterday's workout on the other hand is meant to closely simulate the kind of physical stress that your body sustains at Ironman distance races. My calves were tired but did not seem to be as sore as they usually are. Could it be that my calves are just stronger this year... maybe. But I think the sleeves helped, at least a bit. They did start to feel hot at different points in the workout but it was very hot, up to 103 degrees, so I don't think you can really fault the sleeves too much.
Today I am sore. In all the usual places and my calves are tight but while I'm at home doing chores, I'm wearing the sleeves and they are definitely helping with post workout discomfort.
While it's hard to tell if the sleeves will put up with extended use, I can say that the fabric is super comfy, the seams are smooth and did not chafe and the construction appears to be sturdy. I rinsed the sleeve out by hand after each workout and noticed a lot of red dye leaching into the water, so be careful not to wash these with other items.
I looked like a complete idiot in these things. The ones that were loaned to me are red. They clash horribly with my blue tri suit and offensively bright green Newton racing shoes. I don't think I could have put together a more ridiculous outfit if I tried. My training buddies were calling me Pippy Red Stockings. The outfit was truly shocking and as I said before, screamed "Tri-Geek". Well more like "Colour Blind Tri-Geek!!!" I actually try very hard to avoid the Tri-Geek stereotype so this is a little hard for me to swallow.
I like the sleeves. They feel good and I think they actually helped me. I'll be ordering some through Shortt Supply... in a different colour thank you.