By Tim Kelley — About the Author
I got my first pair of VFFs more than a year ago and have been using them for triathlons, hiking and running. I started with Sprints and quickly added a pair of Flows and now I am training for Ironman Florida this November in a pair of Bikilas.
A few weeks ago I got an email from Justin asking if I would be willing to test and review a non-shoe related piece of running gear. Athletic apparel company, Zensah, had recently come across BirthdayShoes.com and wanted to do a promotion with their compression leg sleeves.
The idea behind compression clothing is that it lightly squeezes your muscles and forces more blood flow to those areas, which in turn removes toxins that build up from exercise. While some people don’t care much for compression wear, I am a big fan and have tried a number of different company’s compression clothing items ranging from compression socks and calves sleeves, to shorts and full compression tights so I was excited to give Zensah a try.
A few days later a package arrived in the mail. I figured the best way to test them would be to go ahead and use them in race situations and fortunately I had a couple races coming up in over the next few weeks. I thought a half-iron distance triathlon (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, 13.1 mile run) would be the perfect opportunity to try them out during a race and then after a sprint triathlon (.5 mile swim, 14 mile bike, 3.2 mile run) would be good time to test their post-workout benefits.
During the half-iron, I slipped them on during the first transition out of the water before heading out on the bike. My wife liked them because they were bright red and she could easily pick me out of the crowd. They felt good and I forgot I was even wearing them until I was completing the run and the finish line announcer complimented me over the PA system on them and noted my VFFs as well. Likewise, I put them on immediately following a shower after the sprint race and wore them during the car ride home and for most the remainder of the day.
Sizing is based on height and calf size and the fit and feel is very comfortable. The material (nylon and spandex) is very sheer and feels smooth against the skins and has remained that way through a number of washings, whereas I found that sometimes socks can get thinner and rough through use. Unlike other sleeves and socks I’ve tried, the Zensah sleeves have two patterns of wider and narrower ribbing which allows the sleeves to expand around the larger upper part of your calves while still being tight towards the lower part. This is especially useful for me as I find that, like many of you, my running form in VFFs relies a great deal on my soleus muscle which tends to get sore towards the bottom of my calve just above my Achilles.
While I don’t think that any piece of clothing can make me run any faster during an event, compression gear does seem to promote recovery afterwards and can help reduce the effect of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). The Zensah sleeves stay in place while running and are comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Some elastic bands of compression socks are too narrow and cut into my legs making them uncomfortable after a few hours; not so with the Zensah’s, these sleeves have a wide band across the top and I found I could even wear them overnight while sleeping without them irritating my legs.
In short, I personally enjoy the feeling of wearing compression gear after a hard workout or race in my VFFs, and the Zensah compression leg sleeves are extremely comfortable to wear for longer periods of time. Be sure to check out the pictures below.
More photos of the Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves
Get 10% off Zensahs! Enter to win a free pair!
If you're interested in trying out Zensah compression sleeves, you can get 10% off using the code birthday10 on checkout at Zensah.com!
@MilesBehindMe is the winner!
Finally, enter to win a pair of free Zensahs! Limited to twitter users in the United States, simply tweet this message (click the link) sometime from 9AM EDT on 7/8/2010 to 8:59AM EDT on 7/9/2010 and you'll be entered to win. A random retweeter will be selected to receive a free pair of compression leg sleeves compliments of Zensah!
About the reviewer — Tim Kelley
Tim Kelley has been running and participating in marathons and triathlons in Vibram Five Fingers for some time — we first saw Tim finishing the Dextrose ITU Triathlon in Washington D.C. in Five Fingers Sprints in a post on Birthday Shoes a year ago. Tim also ran the Marine Corps Marathon in his Five Fingers Sprints. When Tim isn't training for upcoming races — including the Ironman Florida in November which he'll be running in his Five Fingers Bikilas — you can find him snapping great photos as posted on his site TimKelley.net. Finally, if you're on twitter, follow Tim via @timkelleydotnet.