Compression Leg Sleeves

By JASON MAGNESS

At first glance, Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves may look to be part of a Cirque de Soleil costume. Indeed, they come in almost every color one could imagine, and even a few colors that a rainbow would reject as too audacious.

My sleeves are a bright caution-sign-yellow, and during the first month of my test, I was too embarrassed to use them outside of the home. Luckily, they are easy enough to hide under pants, so for weeks I wore them covertly while doing yoga, during recovery days, and on plane flights or cross-country drives.

Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves.jpg

Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves

What are they for? The leg sleeves’ compression is touted to help an athlete’s muscles recover faster. The compression of the calf muscle is supposed to increase venous blood return, reduce swelling. The leg squeeze also fights lactic acid build-up in muscles, the company cites.

In my yoga practice, their effect was somewhat noticeable in long inversion (headstand) postures. But during those periods of long sitting — on a plane, in my car on a road trip — my general fatigue decreased a lot with the leg sleeves on.

I finally got up the nerve to try them in public at a 10K race. The yellow leggings drew a lot of stares and a few snickers. But I ended the race in 7th place overall (2nd in my age group!) so no one was laughing at the end. (I’m still unsure if my speed was from the compression sleeves or the fear of more mocking.)

Since then, I have used Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves across a range of activities, including long trail runs, mountain bike rides, a 12-hour adventure race, and long technical rock climbs.

While I am not sure they live up to all the promises the company cites, often I felt like I had a bit more spring in my step. They do excel at fighting off fatigue and swelling during long sedentary travel days.

With a price tag of $39.99 at www.zensah.com, the leg sleeves are worth a try — if you can handle the questions and random Cirque de Soleil comments.

—Jason Magness is a founder of the YogaSlackers.

Posted by George - 10/19/2009 03:48 PM

Interesting. Maybe you should get them in a different color.

Posted by Ben - 10/20/2009 07:10 AM

I’ve used the Zensah compression leg sleeves for over a year now, and have come to believe in them. Although I don’t use them during events, or have any expectations that they’ll help during an event (the scientific proof just doesn’t seem to be there on that part yet), I do use them at night (when there is some evidence they do help to speed recovery) and see a pronounced effect on recovery. I don’t think that it’s a phenomenon unique to Zensah, but Zensah does have a quality product as an entry into the market.

Posted by Bob - 10/21/2009 12:24 PM

Compression stockings have so many uses outside of athletic endeavors. As a medical student I wear mine under scrubs when I am on my feet for 14+ hours a day and I’ve found that they really reduce calf fatigue/cramping even when wearing uncomfortable dress shoes.

Posted by Val - 01/19/2010 09:10 PM

I wouldn’t have gotten far in my running/triathlon quest if it wasn’t for Zensah shin sleeves. I had horrible shin splints. Not anymore, thanks to Zensah! And now my husband, a beginner runner, is using them. They are GREAT!

Posted by Gregory Z - 03/23/2010 10:44 AM

It’s a great idea to use these or something similar on long plane trips or any time you have to stay sitting for an extended period, to reduce blood clot formation. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is often associated with a sedentary lifestyle, but it can also strike runners and endurance atheletes!

Posted by Tim Hartman - 09/14/2010 02:01 PM

WHERE CAN i BUY THE COMPRESSION LEG SHELVES?

Posted by Willow - 01/03/2011 07:32 PM

Please keep us posted about the leg sleeves. I’ve been thinking about a pair, but am skeptical. I keep thinking bare is best, ultimately. But I’m open to the sleeves and I love the great colours.

Zensah Leg Sleeves

Posted by Greg - 01/29/2014 08:22 AM

This was a really great article! It helped me a lot, and I recently have been shopping for some great compression gear. Thermal compression gear from Frontrunner Fitness for winter sports are great. I bought the best quality compression shorts at http://www.frontrunner-fitness.com

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