Friday, October 17, 2014

Zensah Ultra Compression Sleeves

sexy legs!
   A few weeks ago the kind folks at Zensah sent me a pair of their new Ultra Compression Sleeves to try out (Thanks Bibrave!). I chose to go with the neon pink which I am very happy with my choice (don't they look sexy?!). They do have a multitude of other colors to choose from if pink isn't your thing.

The Zensah rep asked me what size I would like. I went to the website to look at the size chart. This is where I ran into an issue. There are two different measurements to take in consideration when choosing size. First is height. According to height, I was a size small. However, according to calf circumference I was a large. After consulting with the rep, I went with medium as she advised. See the sizing from the website:

Ultra Compression Leg Sleeves When choosing a size, calf size should be used as the primary determinant. We list height for those who do not know their calf size.

     Calf Circumference             Height                     Calf CM                      Height M
S     9.5" - 12.5"                   5' 3" - below              24 - 31.5cm                1.60m - Below
M   12.5" - 15"                    5' 4" - 5' 10"              31.5 - 38cm                1.63 - 1.78m
L   15" - Up                         5' 11" - Up                  38cm - Up                 1.80m - Up

Of course as soon as they arrived (the day after my 12 hour) I slapped those puppies right on. They were not difficult to get on at all. I have a different pair that are also of the "ultra" compressive nature, that can be a struggle to get on and off. I liked this since it can be hard enough after running 50 some miles to get clothes on and off let alone something super tight that I have to fight with. This is likely due to the flexible nature of the material that the Zensah sleeves are made of. They are made of two different materials that I can't pronounce but I do know it feels alot like and looks alot like compression socks. The material is also very breathable, moisture wicking and just overall comfortable.

testing out the neon pink
So let's get to the point.

Pros: Comfort. I wore these on multiple runs including a 2.5 hour run and they felt good. They did not cause extra sweating or any irritation. The compression was what I would call good. It is enough that I felt benefits of having compression sleeves on (support) but not too much that I can't tolerate wearing them for long periods of time when I'm running. I have also read/heard from many people that the regular Zensah sleeves had issues with falling down while running, the ultra sleeves definitely do not have that issue. The Ultra sleeves are also good for recovery. The added compression improves blood flow for speeding up recovery. I have worn them for hours after tough runs to aid in my recovery and they have felt great.

Felt great on the long run
Cons: The only minor issue I found with the Zensah Ultra sleeves was sizing however I do want to say that I think sizing with any compression sleeves is tricky. While the mediums are ok for me, they are just a bit long, they bunch a bit at the top and bottom. When I spoke to the rep she was concerned that the small would be too tight. Now having worn the medium, I think the small would have been fine. They probably would have been the correct length and I don't think they would have been too tight. The medium do their job of giving me compression while running and adequate recovery however I, personally, wouldn't have minded a bit more compression especially since I feel that this type of material may stretch out a bit with use. So basically my main issue is that if I had gone with calf circumference alone, my size would have been large which would have been less compression so I'm not sure how great that sizing chart is to help runners choose. That said, I also tolerate/want a high level of compression. There are a lot of runners who might not want that and may not feel comfortable with that. So in general, compression gear is one of those things that is really hard to "get right" which is why I don't find this to really be that big of a deal as it is more a personal preference thing.

Overall I think the Zensah Ultra Compression sleeves are a great product. I recommend them if you are looking for sleeves made of comfortable, breathable material that provide support but that can be worn for long distances without sweating/chafing issues. They are also good in assisting with recovery from long or tough runs. But I do have to mention, that if like me, you like EXTREMELY compressive sleeves for recovery or maybe you even like that for running, then these would not be for you. While I will definitely be using the Zensah Ultra Compression Sleeves for long runs including marathons and ultras and sometimes for recovery (when I'm too weak to get my super tight ones on ;-) ), I do have a pair that have significantly more compression that I prefer for quicker recovery. That said, those sleeves I could never wear while running more than an hour or so which is why I was SO happy at how the Zensah ultras performed while I was on long runs. So it all depends on what you are looking for in a compression sleeve. But the most important thing to remember is that the Zensah Ultra sleeves do look AWESOME! ;-)
Ultra sleeves in action

Disclaimer: This product has been provided to me free of charge with no obligation of positive review. All opinions and comments are my own.

Thanks Bibrave!

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