Several months ago I posted a review of a pair of Zensah calf compression sleeves that were sent to me to test out. My review was very positive, and in that post I did a brief overview of the science behind how compression garments are supposed to be of benefit to runners. I’m still not 100% certain how beneficial they really are, but I’m pretty well sold on the concept if only from a comfort and feel standpoint. I’ve been wearing compression sleeves regularly for the past 4 months, and have no plans to stop.
Shortly after I posted my Zensah review, I received an email from Susan Eastman Walton, president of Move Sport Inc., and developer of the RecoFit brand of compression sleeves. She offered to send me a pair of RecoFit sleeves for comparative purposes, and also added in a pair of arm coolers, which I had never tried before.
The first pair of calf sleeves that Susan sent were a size medium, and based on my measurements I was basically right at the upper end of the medium scale. My initial sense was that they were uncomfortably tight, so I got back in touch and she sent a pair in size large. They felt much more comfortable, but for some reason I kept going back to the smaller pair because the tighter compression started to feel good in an odd kind of way. I’ve been wearing both regularly for the past several months, and even wore the medium sized pair during the Manchester City Marathon in November with no major complaints about the tight fit – in fact, I now view the fit as a major positive.
It’s kind of hard to really pick out differences between products as straightforward as compressions sleeves, and both the Zensah and RecoFit sleeves would serve equally well for most runners. The Zensah sleeves are a bit thicker, and so might be a bit warmer (not that calf coldness is ever really an issue…), but the RecoFit sleeves seem to have a slightly tighter weave and fit a bit more snugly on my leg – the fabric is thinner and smoother, and feels different in a way that is hard to describe in words. The RecoFit sleeves are also designed separately for each leg, whereas the Zensah sleeves can go on either leg – left and right are not differentiated. All in all I’m very happy with both the RecoFit and Zensah products, and will continue to use them regularly on hard runs and for recovery afterward.
Regarding the arm coolers, I was a bit skeptical of the entire arm cooler/warmer concept. Why not just wear a long sleeve shirt? Well, the advantage I suppose again lies in the tight fit. I hate wearing those tight compression type shirts that Under Armor and Nike make because I don’t like the way they feel on my torso – maybe if I had washboard abs or something like that I’d feel different, but that ain’t happening anytime soon. The nice thing about arm sleeves is that they give the nice compression feeling but stop below the shoulder, so they don’t restrict movement of the shoulder joint, and your torso is free of constricting fabric. RecoFit arm coolers are made with a fabric called Icefil, which is treated with Xylitol, a substance I believe is found in some types of chewing gum. Anyway, Xylitol is supposed to aid evaporative cooling and thereby acts to cool the skin. I will say that I had a sensation of mild cooling when I initially put them on – kind of like someone had put a very mild form of Icy Hot all over my arms. I can’t say that the cooling sensation worked very well on the run, and I actually wore the RecoFit arm coolers as arm warmers during my BQ marathon at Smuttynose. I found that the best feature of the arm sleeves is that the compression helps keep my arm in a flexed position while I run, perhaps reducing muscular effort needed to do so (total speculation here…). Anyway, they felt good, were comfortable, and I have no complaints. I won’t say these are a rush out and buy kind of item, but if you like compression on your arms, they are a decent option.
Both the RecoFit calf compression sleeves and arm coolers are available at Running Warehouse.