If you’re a runner who struggles with injuries, a good pair of compression sleeves may be just what you need. How do you know which is the best for you?
Most compression sleeves offer many of the same benefits. If you’re trying to figure out which kind is the best for you, we’ve got you covered.
Quick Look: Our Top Picks
How Compression Works
Compression was initially used for medical reasons such as preventing blood clots, severe leg swelling, or for diabetics. It has now become a popular fixture in the running world and with athletes from other sports. This is because it is believed to improve performance.
Compression sleeves squeeze the leg tissues and the walls of the veins, helping to improve the flow of the blood and return it to the heart. This means that there is no blood pooling in your legs, which can cause them to swell.
By wearing compression sleeves, your blood is circulating better. This ensures that you are getting more oxygen to your muscles and they will feel less fatigue.
Studies have shown that compression socks, sleeves, or tights stimulate blood flow, which helps your legs recover quicker from a long run. The compression after a run works in the same way as propping your legs up.
Compression sleeves offer many benefits, such as helping to prevent:
- muscle fatigue
- shin splints
- muscle tears
- vibration trauma
What do the compression ratings mean? Compression socks and sleeves come in many different levels of compression. They are measured by millimeters of mercury (mmHg), which is a unit of measuring the amount of pressure that is applied to the leg. The higher number is the amount of pressure at the bottom of the sock or sleeve, and the lower number is the amount of pressure at the top of the sock or sleeve.
These numbers are the most common:
- 8-15mmHg: This is very light compression. It will relieve aching legs and help with minor swelling.
- 15-20mmHg: This is moderate compression. It is perfect for legs that are prone to swelling and fatigue.
- 20-30mmHg: This is high-level compression and it provides relief from severe swelling. This is the most popular level for athletes.
Anything higher than 20-30mmHg is an extra firm amount of compression and should only be worn under a doctor’s supervision.
How to wear them?
In order to get the full benefits of the compression sleeves, you must wear them correctly. You don’t want them to be wrinkled or bunched up; rather you want them to fit smooth against your skin. You also need to make sure you have the right size. If they are not worn correctly, not only will they not provide you with any benefits, but they could also cause injury.
How to Choose?
If you don’t have the proper gear or correct fitting gear, running can cause pain in your whole body.
Most athletic compression sleeves have many of the same benefits. However, each one does have something that makes it unique. The sleeves that you choose will be based on your needs and your comfort preferences.
Do Compression Sleeves Work?
While it is unclear whether or not wearing compression sleeves or socks will improve performance, there is evidence that by improving the blood flow in the legs, it will help your heart to pump more efficiently.
It has also been proposed that wearing compression sleeves helps to reduce the side to side movement of the calf muscles, which in turn, helps to prevent muscle damage.
One thing we know for sure is that wearing compression sleeves stimulates blood flow, which will reduce swelling and soreness in your legs after a long run.
Our Top 5 Favorite Compression Sleeves
This brand advertises that their sleeves are designed to boost performance, speed up recovery, and give you better blood circulation.
These sleeves are not only designed for sports use, but they also have many medical benefits as well. They help with spider and varicose veins, restless leg syndrome, shin splints, leg swelling, and help prevent blood clots.
They are made with ventilation to help wick away moisture and keep you dry and cool. They offer a higher level of compression at 18-20mmHg. There are different types of fabric and specific areas of compression, so you have to wear them correctly.
Danish Endurance sleeves are designed with a fashionable look and come in a variety of colors. These sleeves are made in Europe, so be aware that US sizes will be different. Make sure to check their size chart before ordering.
- Very comfortable
- Fit great
- Stays in place
- Thicker material than other brands
- Can be hard to put on
- Sizes run small
CEP Progressive+ 2.0 Calf Sleeves
These compression sleeves were designed for optimum performance and recovery. They are designed from medical technology to provide you with graduated medical grade compression. The consistent compression they offer maximizes blood flow in the lower legs. They have enough compression to support your legs, but not too much to restrict your movements.
CEP advertises that their sleeves improve blood flow, reduce muscle soreness, aid in a quicker recovery, help with shin splints, and prevent muscle tears. They are a high level of compression (20-30mmHg).
Their sleeves are designed with a unique feature that helps to reduce vibrations, prevent injuries, and stabilize muscles and joints. They have specific zones that are padded where you need it the most to relieve pressure. The sleeves also offer targeted compression on the calf muscles to increase circulation.
There are many extra benefits that these sleeves offer. CEP Progressive sleeves provide heat and moisture management and ventilation in the calf. These sleeves are made with antibacterial, odor-reducing materials. CEP engineered a band at the top of the calf that will hold them securely in place.
- Available in a variety of colors, including reflective colors
- Extra support stabilize the ankle
- Fit is true to size
- Very durable
- Lightweight material
Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves
Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves are designed by professional athletic trainers. They have strategically placed mesh for advanced calf support and breathability. These sleeves offer advanced engineering for improved muscle support and injury prevention.
They have targeted areas around the ankle for extra stabilization, which allows your legs to last longer during long runs. The sleeves have been engineered with seamless technology to guarantee ultimate comfort and prevent chafing or skin irritation.
Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves feature wide ribbing in the front for shin support and tight ribbing in the back for calf support, to help reduce cramping and fatigue. They are made with graduated compression technology and they are a lighter level of compression (15-20mmHg). These are perfect for someone who wants the support but doesn’t want a strong compression.
They are made with moisture-wicking, thermal regulating, and anti-odor materials and are ultra-breathable. They are easy to put on and easy to take off.
Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves are made in the United States.
- Variety of vibrant color choices
- Color does not fade
- Stays in place
- Sizing is not true, runs short or long
- Not durable
- Inconsistent in fitting – some colors fit tighter than others
Mojo Compression Calf Sleeves
Mojo Compression Calf Sleeves use selective compression gradients that are specifically engineered into the sleeve to prevent lactic acid, which causes swelling. They utilize multiple zones to provide extra cushioning and moisture-wicking.
These sleeves are a higher compression (20-30mmHg), and they are a thicker material than other compression sleeves. They feature four different flex zones that allow for enhanced mobility.
They are made with thicker padding for increased oxygen delivery and are designed to meet leg contours. They have an eye-catching and stylish design. These sleeves are made with moisture-wicking material to ensure that you stay dry.
Mojo Compression Leg Sleeves has a two-inch band at the top to ensure that they do not slip out of place.
- Comfortable fit
- Excellent for relieving swelling
- Great quality
- Bulky material
- Sizes run small
- No ventilation
Pro Compression Calf Sleeves
Pro Compression calf sleeves are designed to promote healthy blood flow in the legs, which results in less fatigue and a faster, more efficient recovery. They are engineered to not only improve vascular performance, but also to provide support to critical muscles and tendons.
They are a higher level of compression (22-26mmHg) and are a true graduated compression. These are made with a proprietary blend of materials to provide you with all over moisture-control to keep you dry. They use tighter elastic to create significant pressure and also to keep them in place, so you don’t have to worry about them slipping down.
They are proudly made in the U.S.A.
- Great fit
- Easy to put on
- Easy to take off
- Stays in place
- Large variety of colors
The Choice Is Yours
There is no clear winner from the choices above. The best compression sleeve depends on your preferences on the amount of compression you need. It will also depend on what other features that you are looking for.
My personal choice is the CEP Compression Sleeves. I have been running in these for two years, following a severe shin splint. They have the perfect amount of compression and are easy to put on and take off. They have kept me from getting shin splints, swelling in my legs, and ankles, and having soreness in my calves. They really do their job as far as helping me recover after long runs. They are also very durable and have lasted for a long time. You definitely get your money’s worth.