So I’ve recently entered the world of compression gear. Why did I not know it was there before?
I started properly wearing compression leggings/socks/sleeves in October 2016 and I’m convinced it’s had a really positive impact on my training. I can now run further, faster and recover quicker. I’ve tried out a variety of different brands (each of which have their own selling points) and I thought I’d share my feedback with you. Before I do that though, let’s get some of the basics covered:
Here are some of most widely considered benefits:
- Increases blood flow and carries more oxygen to the muscles
- Less lactic acid which prevents swelling and reduces fatigue
- Helps prevent injuries such as cramps, shin splints, inflamed Achilles and other ankle problems
What types of compression?
There are four main levels of compression:
- 8-15mmg – mild compression
- 15-20mmg – moderate compression
- 20-30mmg – firm compression
- 30-40mmg – very firm compression
You’ll see reference to these numbers on the websites you buy the compression gear from. The higher the number, the more compression you get. It’s not always the case that the firmer the better though. It’s just as important to get good quality gear, with compression in the right places. You might also use different levels of compression for different things i.e. firm compression on harder runs and mild compression for easy runs.
I am going to start with my favourite brand. I have so many pairs of the Zero Point calf sleeves and I am not ashamed to say that I regularly plan my outfits around them. Bright orange camo with a matching SPIbelt, am I right?!
The reason I love the Zero Point products so much is that all of the products (socks, sleeves, clothes) are custom fit with graduated compression. You need to do the measurements yourself at home (they tell you how to do this) and then you get given a size for each product. The graduated/targeted compression means that they’re only tight where they need to be.
I have recently tried the Athletic 2.0 leggings and they are amazing, particularly for recovery. They’re high waisted (which I love) and come with a drawstring. They’re really tight but I still feel like I can move in them. I think they’re a really decent contender to my Skins leggings (more detail below).
If you want to get yourself something from Zero Point, use the code ZPMARTHA at the checkout for 20% off.
I have a pair of the Skins ‘A400 Compression Long Tights’. They’re so tight, but I like that. I feel so secure, yet have such a wide range of movement. It’s like I lose 7lbs every time I put them on!
They’ve got some kind of climate control in too so they keep you warm in the cold and stop you sweating in the heat. The ankle seam has a gel liner so they don’t move around and they’re just generally vey comfortable. I don’t generally run in them, but use them for recovery instead. In fact, I wore them at night after my ultra marathon in July and woke up with no aching muscles the next day. Literally none. Crazy, right?
The downsides? They’re low waisted, there’s no drawstring and they have a limited colour range.
My husband has a pair of the black Rymora calf sleeves which I’ve borrowed on a few occasions. They have graduated compression which means the compression reduces from the ankle to the knee. They look nice, but they slip down and they only come in three sizes (with no differentiation between male and female measurements). They also didn’t feel particularly effective which is probably because they only come in moderate compression (18-25mmg).
Having said that, they are only £10 so they’re a great entry level choice if you want to try compression before you invest in something a bit better. For this reason, I think they would be ideal for general exercise or plane journeys where you only need something light.
I have a pair of Hilly Revive compression socks. They must have very mild compression as they’re not particularly tight or effective for hard runs. In fact, they slip down quite a bit so I wonder whether I should have got a smaller size. They don’t have graduated compression and they’re not custom fit. You simply choose your shoe size.
These were one of the first pairs I bought, and, much like the Rymora’s, I think they’re a good entry level choice if you don’t want to spend a lot of money. Of course, with that, you sacrifice some of the wider benefits that the better brands like Zero Point have.
Run Mummy Run
I have a confession that I don’t actually own any Run Mummy Run compression gear. However, lots of my friends do, so I felt it was important to include them.
They have a great choice of fun and colourful socks to choose from. I would imagine that most people who have these socks buy them for their aesthetics rather than their compression because they only have mild compression (15-22mmg). Nonetheless, they do have graduated compression and seem to be a popular choice so they’re obviously doing something right!
Once I’d got a few pairs of black compression socks, I started looking for something more colourful. Enter CompressionZ. An American company who occasionally put products on Amazon. Fancy some bright novelty socks with spots, stripes or jigsaw pieces? These will definitely be for you.
Most of their socks are 20-30mmg but some of them are 30-40mmg, which means they are very very tight. I always struggle to get them on and they leave dents in my skin, but they do seem to do the job.
The downsides? They only come in shoe sizes so they’re not custom fit and they sell out really quickly.
In my opinion (and I am NOT an expert) I prefer the compression gear that is custom fit and has graduated compression (e.g. Zero Point). These products do tend to be more expensive but I do believe you get what you pay for and if you find a cheeky discount code, then even better!
Compression gear seems to be having a positive impact on my training (whether it’s in my mind or not, who cares?) and regardless of the brand or type, it’s worth dipping your toes in and giving it a go.
If you have any questions, please do feel free to send me a message via the contact me page. I’m learning more about compression every day so I’ll try my best to answer any queries.