Monday, 22 October 2012

Compressport Calf Guards Review

Compressport Calf Guards Review

There is much debate (like with most running products) about the benefit of compression clothing. I can only speak from personal experiences. To date my only point of reference have been the Skinz products. My use of these has always been with mixed feelings. Each item I have owned has been comfortable. Have I noticed a significant benefit from the compression? The honest answer has to be not really.

The Skinz products are a nice fit, but they appear to loosen after a few washes. Most notably the calf guards would fall down around my ankles until about 90min into a run, seemingly defeating the issue of the compression in the first instance.

I have been somewhat on the neutral stance about compression gear since these experiences. I have been keen for compression gear to be effective as my calves have historically had a tendency to scream and turn into solid blocks when under stress. Many people have been proactive in saying compression gear would solve it. Well up to this point all I could say was the product I owned had not helped.

With the above information in mind I was reluctant to consider an outlay on any further product that may assist me. I wanted more definitive assurance about a product. I could not find any such assurances and so turned to the good people of Likeys for advice. In speaking with Martin he was very upbeat about the products from Compressport. Martin has always given sound advice and without wanting to become a Likeys cheerleader they only appear to stock products they have faith in. Nonetheless I remained slightly cynical. The difference being my cynicism was being directed at a brand as I deliberated a purchase. With my conscience on my shoulder telling me to be sure before I purchased I hesitated some more. After an impromptu conversation with a friend on twitter we started discussing Compressport. I had happened to notice him wearing them in a recent photo of him running a marathon. During the discussion he mentioned he much preferred them to Skinz products and in turn highlighted the issues I have already raised. This advice was enough to push me over the edge. After carefully measuring my calves I placed an order with Likeys

I have given the detailed run down (no pun intended) to this purchase to draw the readers attention to the slightly jaded position I had of compression gear in the build up to this purchase.

Initial Impressions

The calf guards straight out of the box have a quality feel. They look convincingly more sturdy than their Skinz counterpart. The upper and lower sections are designed to prevent slippage. They are quite difficult to initially get on, however, they are tight but not too tight.

The product looks good and feels good. These are the initial impressions, but the product needed to be tested to give a confident response in respect of their performance.

Calf Guards in Practice

As mentioned above they present as being a good comfortable product. More importantly they appear to provide excellent levels of compression.

I have now worn these calf guards on multiple races of varying distances from 10k to 100miles (67miles completed). I have also used them regularly in training.

The compressport have a great fit. It is essential that you measure your calf properly when selecting sizes. Also I should note when choosing size if you are between two sizes then go up a size. I nearly went the other way after my experience of Skinz and I done that the compressport would have been too tight.

It was a bit of a strange experience when I first run in these and I was still very indifferent about them. My first experience was on a 7mile run. The route was fairly flat and mainly road. During this run I was really conscious of a restriction around my calves. Not painful or bad, but an unusual sensation. What I can say is after the run there was no pain in my calves. With that said it's generally longer runs when the fatigue sets in that I have issues.

In taking the calf guards out over several more runs I began to notice a few things. Not all of my observations were great, but the overall experience has been positive. For me my training has shown I don't like wearing calf guards on shorter training runs (under 10miles.) During these runs I just don't feel any benefit and I find if I'm going to try and sustain a fast pace the compressport feel too restrictive. When I start talking about longer distances the review takes on a whole different perspective.

Over longer distances these have been exceptionally good. Inevitably when distance is a factor my pace slows and over time aches and pains creep in. When wearing the compressport calf guards over these distances I have had zero calf pain and absolutely no tightening of the calves. If you factor into this I am including my recent attempt at North Downs Way 100 where I managed 67 miles. Then the statement of no calf pain takes on greater significance. Please note I did not fail to finish the 100 miles because of my calves. My calves felt great. I have found over distance my calf guards leave me feeling like the calves have been well supported.

An added bonus of the calf guard is they provide a great layer of protection when running trails. I have found occasions where I'm running through nettles and not noticing. With trail running this is sometimes unavoidable and it's always nice to have any additional protection. Yes it's not the primary or secondary purpose of the calf guard, but it's definitely an added bonus.

Much is spoken about the quality during racing, but the benefit with this product most definitely extends into recovery. Having pulled from the North Downs Way 100 I was stiff in the quads and my hamstrings and my feet were sore. My calves felt great and then I left the calf guards on for 8 hours after the race. This was longer than I intended, because they were so comfortable I forgot I was wearing them. The pleasant surprise was that at no time during or after the North Downs Way 100 did I have any calf pain. Perhaps this was just a coincidence, but perhaps not.

One tip I would note is that taking them off can be a pain. I have found if you roll the top of the calf guard down over your feet (so the calf guard is inside out) then it can be pulled off very easily. This may be obvious to some, but after a long run I'm not always thinking clearly and had been tugging at the bottom to pull the calf guard off.

So overall a fantastic product. I won't ever use them for short runs, but I'm not sure that's really what they have been designed for. For long runs I shall always be wearing them.

Everyone is different and they may not work for you. I know as many runners at the top of their game who don't feel the need as those that love them. For me they work and I'm a big fan of the compressport option. If you are at all interested have a look at the product and decide for yourselves.

Happy Running!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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