A Review: Zensah Leg Sleeves

Hey guys and happy Monday to you! Just a thought to get your day started out right:

88242473918999775 nrlHMbdL f

(source)

I hope you guys all had a great weekend. Mine was full of some action (time with our friends Craig and Mandi Saturday and a ski day with new friends all day Sunday at Lake Louise) and some down time (grocery shopping, vacuuming, laundry and a movie together at home Friday night): a perfect mix. Some working out, some recovery; some intentional movement, some rest.

Part of my rest included letting the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) in my calves quiet down a bit after my first run in my Vibram Five Finger shoes of the year! Back outside and enjoying good weather ("good" is relative in Calgary; sunny and shorts Wednesday, cold and snowing huge, wet flakes Thursday!) in my favorite minimalist shoes.

IMG 20120412 01638

One of the reasons I was amped to get my feet back in these shoes for more than just a workout was because I had some more support with me and a new piece of running gear to try out: my Zensah compression leg sleeves! I'd talked about it before but wanted to share my initial and final thoughts with you, including some background on why compression and why compression with minimal footwear first.

Overview:

  • Compression sleeves help increase oxygen blood flow to the lower legs
  • Pin-point compression to shin and calf muscles
  • Reduce recovery time (keeping those legs fresh and ready for more!)
  • Reduce muscle vibration.

Barefoot Running:

Minimalist running uses gravity as the main contributor to forward momentum, and wearing barefoot or minimalist shoes forces the runner to strike differently than they would with a cushioned shoe. Rather than a (harsh, shock-loading) heel strike, you'll see barefoot runners running more on the middle or front of the foot, and by doing so they have almost no impact collision and therefore avoid friction.

IMG 20120413 01655

How Compression Helps:

When I first started using my Vibrams, I noticed that I had to work my body into them slowly (and read many cautionary tales of building up to using them for runs and more use). I felt so many muscles differently because I was striking the ground differently with each stride. As I mentioned above, minimalist running emphasizes landing on the ball of your foot, which means that calves accustomed to shod running aren't as strong and ache like you've just worked them out after running barefoot. Especially if you're not careful to build up your calf muscles by not going all-out in your new Vibrams or minimalist shoes, mid-foot striking can create calf cramping and soreness. But wearing compression leg sleeves before, during, and after barefoot runs can help prevent calf cramping and soreness that results from this type of running.

IMG 20120413 01660

So...what did I think after trying them out? Below are my thoughts in two separate videos, the first being my initial thoughts mid-run in my New Balance shoes (lightweight and quite minimal) and Vibrams; the second being my final thoughts post-runs and after some recovery.

My calves are still tender today and I realized I should have worn the leg sleeves while skiing all day! I know that would have helped, and also having them on more Saturday after my speedier Friday Vibram run. But I'm excited to keep using them for long runs, hard runs, and most importantly minimal runs as I continue to pursue running the way that feels best for me and builds up my natural body. I would definitely recommend them to runners who push hard, run long, and/or are thinking about transitioning to barefoot running!
IMG 20120411 01600
Have you used compression gear before? Leg sleeves? What did you think?
Have you ever tried any of Zensah's running gear?
Special thanks to Zensah for the sleeves to test out; I have no doubt I will see much use of them as we transition into spring and for the years to come!
Have a great Monday you guys! I'll catch ya on the flip side, and until then, live well & be well,
Bonnie
IMG 0067 2
15 Comments
  1. April 16, 2012 at 10:50
    Reply

    Im a softcore runner :) but I ADORE ME SOME ZENSAH. their products and their brand.

    • April 16, 2012 at 14:16
      Reply

      Good point, Miz! "Softcore" runners too - anyone who moves can benefit from these sleeves!

    • April 16, 2012 at 14:14
      Reply

      Thanks, Heidi! I know you're a fellow Zensah-lover. :D

  2. April 16, 2012 at 13:57
    Reply

    I've actually been wondering about compression sleeves and whether or not I should be wearing them. Somehow googling didn't help as much as this. Thanks!

    • April 16, 2012 at 14:14
      Reply

      Awesome! I'm glad you found it helpful, Bex! Thanks for the tweet too. :)

  3. April 16, 2012 at 15:33
    Reply

    I LOVE my Zensah calf sleeves, I wear them for all my long runs and hard runs - they've been with me for a while! We also wear them most of the time when we fly. :)

    • April 16, 2012 at 18:42
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Sabrina - fun to try out and yes, the color rocks. :D

  4. April 16, 2012 at 17:29
    Reply

    I am a HUGE fan of Zensah compression sleeves. I actually ordered a second pair just yesterday since I wear them so often. :)

    • April 16, 2012 at 18:42
      Reply

      A second pair? Nice...I already want another pair myself. ;)

  5. April 16, 2012 at 18:30
    Reply

    Awesome! Great info, Bonnie!! I ordered my leg sleeves last night in Carolina blue!! Really wanted hot pink too- so if I like how they work I'm sure a second pair will be bought soon enough!

    • April 16, 2012 at 18:41
      Reply

      So great, Rana! Love the Carolina blue color too. :D Let me know what you think from your own experiences with them (and tell Zensah - @Zensah on twitter - I'm sure they'd love to hear from you too! Hot pink - love it. :D

  6. Rosemary
    April 18, 2012 at 18:09
    Reply

    Awesome review -- I am definitely ordering a pair - just wondering if you're on the threshold of sizes would you recommend going up or down in size?

    • April 18, 2012 at 19:54
      Reply

      Hmmm...I'm not too sure, Rosemary! Did you check the website for pricing? I would start there and then perhaps email the customer service address in case you're worried about it. I loved the snug but not-too-tight feel of mine, so it's hard to say if you're in between. I don't believe a bigger size would fall off of you though...sorry I can't be much help there!

Leave a Comment