I participated in my very first half marathon on December 7, 2008 at the Marathon of the Palm Beaches. I noticed a couple of the elite runners wearing what looked to be old school knee highs. I asked one of the runners what they were, and he said they were compression stockings. HUH???
A compression stocking looks like a knee sock, but without covering the feet, so you still wear regular running socks along with the stockings. They sort of look like a leg warmer, but the leg warmers I wear while cycling on cold days, start at your thigh and go down to your ankle.
Compression stockings are meant to keep your calf muscles warm. I recently had a chance to test out a pair of Zensah leg sleeves at the ING Miami Marathon. Zensah says that their product provides the following benefits:
- Provide dual action support to the calf and shin area
- Improves oxygen blood flow allowing athletes to train harder and recover faster
- The chevron ribbing reduces the risk of shin splints, and pinpoint compression provides calf support
My friend, Dori, purchased a pair of Zensah leg sleeves at the ING Miami Marathon Health Expo. She had been having some shin problems, and purchased the leg sleeves to wear at night, and after she ran the 1/2 marathon. I saw many runners wearing the leg sleeves during the ING Miami Marathon. Dori already had a pair of compression socks, from another company, but she said they were very light weight, and felt like a regular pair of knee socks. She was happy to see the Zensah leg sleeves at the health expo, as she had been looking for compression socks for quite some time.
Zensah also makes a matching arm sleeve, along with a variety of other products including compression running shorts and tights, seamless running bras and compression shirts. The arm sleeves retail for $29.99, while the Zensah leg sleeves have a suggested retail price of $39.99.
Zensah leg sleeves are available in a variety of colors. The Zensah leg sleeves are available in the following colors, to match all your workout clothes;
2635 NE 188th St. #100
Miami, FL 33180
Visit the Zensah website, to find the stores in your area that carry the Zensah line of products. The Runner's Edge, in Boca Raton Florida, carries Zensah products, they are just a few miles from my house - good to know!
Compression Stocking Benefits
The February 2009 issue of Triathlete magazine contains an article on compression stockings written by Tim Mickleborough, PhD. The article, The Compression Question, appears on pages 112-114 of the magazine. Dr. Mickleborough mentions that "Elastic compression stockings have been used medically in preventing and treating aching, tired, heavy legs, leg and ankle swelling (edema), vericose veins and spider veins." Although the article didn't seem to reach a positive conclusion regarding compression stocking use by athletes, I feel that if you think a particular piece of equipment gives you an advantage over the competition, then go ahead and use it.
Compression leg sleeves will definitely keep your calf muscles warm, which may help prevent your muscles from cramping, which will make for a better running experience. And I personally feel anyone having shin problems, such as shin splints, will benefit from wearing a pair of compression stockings, such as Zensah leg sleeves, while participating in any running events.
Compression clothing is a whole other line of elite competition gear, that many companies are now offering to athletes. I have seen compression stockings, shorts, tights and shirts, offered by quite a few clothing and equipment manufacturers. Compression clothing is marketed to runners and multisport athletes such as triathletes and duathletes.
I would love to hear your opinion of compression stockings, and if you prefer one brand over another.
Lynn Smythe AKA the Run Diva