Tuesday, July 2, 2013

2XU Compression Calf Guards

I'll admit, with all the fads coming and going in the fitness world, it's often hard to buy into all the marketing jabber. From Greek yogurt, the Paleo diet, low to no carb diets to minimal running, semi-aero helmets, and other gear, the things that stick around are the ones that work. I've tried a wide variety of things in the short time I've been in the endurance community. The experimentation in the early days of swimming and running generally had a negative effect on me. The paleo, I discovered, is great if you're doing something like sprints and weight lifting, where you don't need as much carbohydrate to keep going. I dropped to low single digits in term of body fat percentage. Minimal running, when I started, was equally detrimental. My feet weren't strong enough to tolerate it.

Over time, I figured out what worked for me. It may not work for my friends, team mates, or blog readers, but it works for me. One of the things I was eager to try a year or so ago was Skins Compression gear. The science seemed solid: compression helped blood flow, encouraged recovery, and reduced muscle fatigue. To this day I race in Skins Tri400 suit, you can read a review regarding here on this blog. The first piece I bought from Skins was actually their calf sleeves. I have pretty big calves for someone so small in stature, so I figured the benefit would be pretty tangible.

What I failed to do was measure my calves. I just bought a pair of size x-smalls, which is usually what I wear in terms of this sort of gear, like my cycling jerseys. Those lasted about a month, until I realized that they were tight enough to be cutting off circulation. Not good. I passed them along to a friend with smaller calves, and decided that it probably wasn't me, even though compression has been an enduring fad that appears to be here to stay.

A few months ago, I noticed a lump on my right calf. Not a big deal, I figured it wasn't anything serious. It got bigger as training went on, but my concern didn't really grow with it. I figured that the lower part of my calf was getting more defined because of my toe off when running was slightly different between right and left foot. After Lake to Lake last weekend, I decided that I should maybe get it checked out. I wasn't in hard training anymore, which had been a concern when I thought of telling someone: It might stop training. But Cory had noticed it at Lake to Lake and commented that that was definitely not something good. So I sent a picture to a friend who's an athletic trainer and showed my mom. True to form, she freaked out and promptly called a doctor. That's how I found myself in a sterile office a few days ago. Nothing was wrong with it, he reassured me, but I had torn some connective tissue that holds the two parts of the gastrocnemius together. So he told me to go buy some calf sleeves to support them and let the tissue to heal.

Now that I've taken this post pretty far off topic, let me get back to the original purpose. Long story short, I ended up buying these 2XU calf guards. I tried Zoot socks, which are like those tall soccer socks, but decided to go with the 2XU because I like the feel better.



I've had these on now for a good five days, and they're pretty freaking sweet. They have significantly more compression than the socks, which I like. It helps that I got my calves measured before I bought them too (15.33 inches around, if you're curious), which puts me in the top end of the small range.

I've run and biked with them on ever since. The compression is actually quite nice, especially because these sleeves actually fit. I've found myself wearing them when not exercising too, they're that comfortable. Whether by placebo or science, I also find that my calves aren't nearly as tired or tight after workouts too, but I'm no scientist. I would recommend them mainly because of the support they offer, and I truly believe that these will help me keep keeping on until all is healed. Final note: They aren't cheap, at $45, but that's also comparable to anything else on the market.

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