10 Best Compression Sleeves For Runners

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Searching for Compression Sleeves? Take a look at the top-rated sleeves of 2017, Pros & Cons and what to be aware of before buying them in a store.

So, what exactly is the difference between a compression sleeve and a compression sock you might ask? Anyone who has been around a bit is likely to know this, but if you’re just starting out might you not immediately be able to tell the difference. They are essentially the same product in a lot of ways but the sleeve generally targets a specific body part. The way compression sleeves work is to allow muscles to slowly build up compression, this means that compression is more pronounced at the foot & ankle and reduced as it moves up the calf and then the lower leg.

This compression style gives compression which combats gravity effects and enables the body to return deoxygenated blood to the heart. Studies demonstrate that with a consistent high compression level the artery walls dilate (compress)  which in turn increases the flow of blood at times up to a level of 40% while active and 30% when in recovery, this translates into more nutrients and oxygen flowing throughout the body.

At the same time vein, walls will constrict due to compression which speeds up the flow of blood and this means lactic acid and deoxygenated blood will return to the heart quicker which in turn decreases muscle soreness and speeds up the rate for recovery. Muscles will be stabilized, muscular vibration decreased producing less fatigue due to compression sleeves, compression increases blood flow which results in improved performance capability.

Will compression sleeves become part of your best running gear?

Last Updated: November 10, 2017
By Richard Haberkost:

The understanding and the use of compression sleeves by runners is on the increase due to the positive benefits. Here we continually review and update the best choice for compression sleeves for runners. We have updated and added to the popular choices currently available.

SKINS Unisex Calf Sleeve
  • SKINS Unisex Calf Sleeve
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Memory MX fabric maximises stability
  • Price: See Here
Zensah Featherweight Sleeves
  • Zensah Featherweight Sleeves
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Very lightweight
  • Price: See Here
Danish Endurance Compression Sleeve
  • Danish Endurance Compression Sleeve
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Anatomically Accurate Fit
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Compression Sleeves

 

1. SKINS MX Calf Tight

Soft fabric and a snug fit, these sleeves go a long way toward babying your legs. There is also a lot of science built into the Skins, with gradient compression designed to deliver more oxygen to your working muscles. Overall these are a solid pick.
Pros
  • Generally shown to improve power and stamina
  • Comes in many different colors
  • MX fabric gives consistent compression
Cons
  • The price is on the higher end of the spectrum

2. Zensah Featherweight Compression Leg Sleeves

These ultra lightweight compression sleeves not only provide great graduated compression on the calf muscles, but also have a special chevron design for the shins in order to help those who suffer shin splints. These sleeves comes in 3 different sizes in order to provide the best fit and level of compression. The ultra thin fabric is also very comfortable and breathable. Use the Coupon: Runnerclick at checkout for 10% off everything.
Pros
  • Ultra lightweight
  • Thin, breathable fabric
  • Chevron ribbing designs helps alleviate shin splints
  • Seamless design
  • Anti-odor
Cons
  • Size is a bit smaller than normal.

3. Danish Endurance Calf Sleeve

The Calf Compression Sleeve from Danish Endurance has been lab tested and proven to be effective by the Swiss Medical Stocking Tester Technology. Tested and used by Olympic athletes and Navy Seals alike, this sleeve is guaranteed to provide you with the relief and performance you seek.
Pros
  • Durable
  • Lab and athlete tested
  • Affordable
  • Anatomically accurate
Cons
  • Compression sleeves in general cost more than basic sleeves

4. Saucony Amp Pro2 Arm Sleeve Tee

4. Saucony Amp Pro2 Arm Sleeve Tee
Made from fancy sounding Celliant, a mineral-infused fiber that is said to recycle energy and increase oxygen levels. These are a wearable piece of technology that can help you take your game to the next level.
Pros
  • Composed of 40% celliant polyester/39% regular polyester
  • Flatlock seams ensures comfort against the skin
  • Quite reasonably priced
  • Seams designed to avoid friction
Cons
  • Tends to ride up

5. Rikedom Sports Graduated Calf Sleeves

5. Rikedom Sports Graduated  Calf Sleeves
Stabilize and maximize your performance with these flashy women’s running sleeves from Rikedom Sports. Completely reversible, these sleeves provide just the right blend of support and flexibility. Add in a money back guarantee and you really can’t go wrong.
Pros
  • Graduated compression helps blood flow
  • Material stimulates muscles promoting faster recovery
  • Reversible
  • Great value-to-price ratio
Cons
  • Too thin for some

12. Pro-Tec Athletics 3D Flat Calf Sleeve

12. Pro-Tec Athletics 3D Flat Calf Sleeve
These are a great pair of running sleeves for more than a few reasons: They’re built with an energetic multi-directional stitching, they breathe extremely well, and best of all they excel and increasing blood flow to your muscles.
Pros
  • Contours to your calf, maximizing support
  • Firm stitching, allows for a snug fit and no uncomfortable rubbing
  • Good balance of support to restriction, allows full range of motion
  • Budget friendly
Cons
  • Only available in black and blue

9. Blitzu Calf Sleeves

9.  Blitzu Calf Sleeves
These sleeves are built specifically to address and aid shin or calf pain. If you suffer from any number of issues such as: shin splints, cramps, tendonitis, or general soreness these sleeves are a great fallback.
Pros
  • Ribbed design, reduces pressure
  • Designed for heavy duty use
  • Solid satisfaction guarantee
Cons
  • limited color options

8. Zensah Leg Sleeves

8. Zensah Leg Sleeves
A great sleeve for regulating skin temperature, the Zensah sleeves have a bit of extra thickness making them the perfect choice for colder weather. Great to wear on the go or for recovery, these sleeves are made in the USA to boot!
Pros
  • Quality constructed, provides firm pressure
  • The v-shaped design is meant to provide the same benefits and kinesiology tape
  • Machine washable
  • Made in the USA
Cons
  • A bit bulkier than some others

10. 2XU Compression Calf Guards

10. 2XU Compression Calf Guards
Looking for a high end sleeve that is bound to up your performance? Your search ends with the 2XU Compression Calf Guards. With a highly specified compression gradient engineered into these sleeves you will get tight where needed and flexibility where needed.
Pros
  • Machine washable
  • High grade compression
  • 360 degree knit construction, consistent pressure
  • Wide range of color schemes
Cons
  • A bit expensive

11. Camden Gear Calf Sleeve

11. Camden Gear Calf Sleeve
The Calf Compression Sleeves by Camden Gear are made for runners and make use of graduated compression to increase blood flow, aid in recovery, and improve performance. Simply put these are great sleeves.
Pros
  • Nice blend of material, offers appropriate amount of pressure and support
  • Helps issues such as shin splints
  • Over 1,000+ positive reviews
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee
  • Generous sizing range
Cons
  • Some found the women's designs a bit too flashy

 

The function is roughly the same between socks and sleeves but there are some critical differences as well. Sleeves give you all the benefits of targeted compression but they allow you to wear a different pair, perhaps a water resistant pair or your lucky ones. 


The Criteria We Used For Our Evaluation Of The Best Compression Sleeves

Compression sleeves have been around for quite a while out there, you can see people wearing them in a wide variety of sports, from football to marathon running. If you are into sports, you may have heard people discussing if compression sleeves actually work on enhancing the performance or if they do not actually make a difference. What we can tell you, is that there must be a reason for marathon runners to keep using them.

compression-sleeves-style-colors

Other Important Factors To Consider When Selecting The Best Running Shoes

Let’s start understanding what compression sleeves are and what can they do for you, but first let learn some basic concepts about your body before.

Why do my muscles get fatigued?

Your heart pumps blood, which contains oxygen and nutrients, which your body then uses as energy and thus, makes your muscle function.  When the oxygen from the blood gets used, a chemical reaction occurs and one the products of this reaction is lactic acid.

compression-sleeves-pain

Keeping the blood oxygenated is very important for your performance, as you may already know. When you exercise, your heart runs faster and providing not just enough oxygen for your organs and muscles to function, but also generating lactic acid in the process.

If lactic acid is not removed from your muscles, it can contribute to soreness and decrease on the ability to perform, and if you add the amount of vibration that goes through your legs while you are running, it makes sense why you experience muscular fatigue after a long run.

What can compression sleeves do for me?

The compression sleeves provide graduated compression, from really high at your foot (not all the sleeves cover for feet) and ankle to lower compression at your calf and leg. The effect of that graduated compression is a help in fighting the effects of gravity by making it easier for your body to return the deoxygenated blood and lactic acid back to your heart to get refueled with oxygen. That increases the quantity of oxygen and nutrients flowing through for body. That helps the muscles to function and recover faster.

compression-sleeves-legs-function
How does it happen? 

Well, the graduated compression increases the speed at which blood flows through your legs by slightly constricting the walls of your arteries and veins.  Your blood is pressurized and thus flows faster to and from your heart.

compression-sleeves-legs-diagramHow about the vibration factor?

The graduated compression technology helps to stabilize the muscle and reduces the vibration your muscles absorb while running. That is an extra important factor to increase your performance and recovery when you exercise.

Other Important Factors To Consider When Selecting Compression sleeves

 

Size 

As in any other sports equipment, the size is very important, compression sleeves work the best when used the right way, that includes having the right pair of sleeves in the right kind of legs. As the compression goes from high to low from you ankle upwards, you need to know your leg size for the sleeves to give you their better performance.

size-chart-compression-sleevesCompression 

There are different types of compression sleeves that match up with your specific runs; whether you do long runs or short runs, there is a perfect shape of a sleeve for you. Some brands specialize in compressing specific muscles rather than the whole leg, some others give you extra breathability, some more give you extra muscle support. Its only up to you to decide which one is your match.

Style

Compression sleeves come in different styles and colors. Depending on the material and the specifications you need for your kind of run, all the brands offer a wide range of colors and styles. If you like running on dirt roads and trail, we recommend you get a darker color of sleeves, as well as a thicker pair, so you can protect yourself from scratches and even from bugs you can encounter during your off-road run.

FAQ

Q: My legs become swollen after a run.  Will compression sleeves help reduce this?

A: Compression sleeves can help reduce swelling in your legs and can be used during or after a run.

Q: I don’t run but I spend a lot of time standing and walking every day, can compression sleeves help me with my day-to-day performance?

A: Yes, compression sleeves help you as much while you run as when you walk or stand for long periods of time. They are not restricted to runners and/or professional sports people, you can buy your own pair and increase your performance while decreasing your swelling and muscular fatigue. Make sure you tell your shop assistant the use you want to give to your sleeves, they can give you the best advice for the perfect pair.

Q: Are compression sleeves good for calf cramps, muscle strains, inflammation and/or other injuries?

A: They are, compression sleeves can make good to you if you have an injury and your doctor has recommended compression treatment. The sleeves will not cure your injury but may help with your recovery. Increased blood flow will help you recover from muscle fatigue and lower leg injuries. Proper rest, massages and medical care is the most important thing you need to have when recovering from an injury.

Q: Do compression sleeves let my legs breathe naturally?

A: Most compression sleeves have really good wicking and drying performances along with great breathability. Moisture management and Odor control are some other technologies you can from different brands. Depending on the climate conditions you use to run in, you can pick for more warmth, breathability, thickness, and shape. You can find from extra warm sleeves you can run with during the cold winter, to ultralight technology that has amazing breathability and coolness.

Q: Are compression sleeves unisex?

A: Some of the compression sleeves in the market are unisex, but we recommend to get your man/woman pair. As the technology of graduated compression works in a very specific way depending on the size of the sleeve, we recommend to get the right size of the sleeve, which has to do with the shape of your leg as well, and that varies if you are a man or a woman.

 

 

We really hope you find the information in this guide useful to your search, and learn how compression sleeves work and way they can be convenient for you. So, finding the right pair of compression sleeves is just as important of a process as getting the right kind of reading glasses, you have to know about your body and how it functions in order to get the best performance out of it.


Here’s a list of sources we used while conducting our research:

While researching and compiling our list, we used a wide variety of sources to provide the best and most accurate information.  Our research information comes from not only clinical resources but manufacturers, brand specs, and sites that specialize in this particular information that is relevant to our topic.

Sources

  1. Runner's World, Running Rags: Skinny Arms Cold? Try out Some Arms Sleeves, Running enthusiast website, Oct 08, 2013
  2. US National Library of Medicine, Is There Evidence that Runners can Benefit from Wearing Compression Clothing?, National Library of Medicine informational website,
  3. Fitness Magazine.com, What Does Compression Clothing Really Do to Your Body?, Online fitness publication,
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