Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Under Pressure

Great, great song.  David Bowie and Queen working together to create a masterpiece, only to be sampled and forever soiled by the no talent ass-clown known as Vanilla Ice.  In the interest of full disclosure I do recall dancing to “Ice, Ice Baby” during my college days, perhaps under the influence of an adult beverage or two.  Oh the humanity.

However, the title above is not intended to pay homage to early-80s music.  Rather, it is in reference to the wonders of sports compression, and CEP Compression Socks in particular.  Most everyone, at some point in their life, has suffered an injury calling for the tried-and-true treatment regimen of RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).  My history of sports injuries is unfortunately very lengthy, so I’ve spent a lot of time perfecting the art of RICE.  However, until 2-3 years ago, I hadn’t yet been fully introduced to compression wear.  That would change with my ill-advised unretiring from soccer in early 2009.

Starting from the age of around 7 in sunny California, I spent far too many hours on soccer fields.  I was no Pele, but I was big and very fast, and was a physical defender that quickly learned how to use that big/fast combination to my advantage.  Finesse was definitely not a big part of my game, which unfortunately meant that injuries (to myself and others … but mostly to myself) played a fairly major role.  I appeared destined to play in college, until a traumatic full-speed tumble resulted in a grizzly shoulder dislocation that effectively ended my career in my senior year of High School.  Live by the sword, die by the sword.

Fast forward approximately 20 years, and I agreed to help a neighbor’s indoor men’s team fill a roster spot in a local league for one night.  I hadn’t participated in an organized sport since that fateful day in High School, but like Sugar Ray Leonard, Michal Jordan, and Brett Favre (minus the sexual harassment and questionable photography/emailing habits) I would rise from the ashes of retirement to reclaim my onfield glory.  Cutting to the chase, midway through the second half I pull my hamstring and go gently back into that good night of retirement.  Within a couple days, however, I’m itching to get back to my regular running routine.  The answer?  Compression shorts.  They worked wonders keeping my muscles warm and keeping the soreness to a minimum, and within about a week I was back running mostly pain-free again, and was hooked as a firm believer in the wonders of sports compression wear.

I’ve worn compression shorts on pretty much every run since the hamstring pull, and I feel a bit naked running without them.  About a month into training for my first marathon, I strained my left calf.  In addition to The Stick, Biofreeze, Foam Rollers, etc., I once again turned to the world of compression wear to get me back running again.  This time it was calf compression sleeves by 2XU, which I wore every day during the rest of the marathon training, and wore during the race:
Training for my second marathon was all about being open-minded and trying new things to train better and hopefully stay injury-free.  This also was the time I started this blog, and started following an abundance of running blogs.  After reading dozens of positive reviews of compression socks, and seeing more and more people wearing them while out on my training runs, I thought I’d better jump on the train and see what all the fuss was about.  Thanks to the good people at sportscompression.com, I was able to test drive a pair of CEP Run & Recover Compression Socks during the later stages of my training.  I was left wishing I had gotten my hands on these much, much sooner.  Two BIG thumbs up.
Rather than attempt to create the illusion that I have some personal scientific insight into the benefits of sports compression, I give you the following cut-and-paste from sportscompression.com:

Compression can and will
  • reduce muscle vibration and micro trauma to muscle tissues
  • hold any ligaments and joint in line for improved efficiency
  • bring more oxygen and nutrients to any injured area
  • flush out lactic acid and waste in the blood stream
  • keep out swelling in any joint
  • help increase joint stability
  • reduce over-pronation when running
  • Dramatically reduce your risk of blood clots from traveling
Injuries compression is key in helping with:
  1. Achilles injury
  2. Shin Splints
  3. Calf Cramps
  4. Plantar Fasciitis
  5. Ankle swelling
  6. Torn muscles
  7. Varicose Veins
  8. Blood Clots
  9. Ankle injuries
  10. Fatigue
I only had one opportunity to wear the socks during a run, which was a short 5-mile outing, but they performed well and felt good during the run.  The main use I got from these was after my last half-dozen or so long runs, after a ‘refreshing’ ice-bath, I’d put these on my legs and head for the couch for some well-earned recovery time.  I’d wear them for a couple hours until my legs regained feeling from the ice-bath (yes, I’m resisting the urge for a lame “Ice, Ice baby” pun), take a quick shower, then put these back on for another 2-4 hours while going through my usual weekend routine.  These feel great on your calves and ankles, but the biggest added bonus for me was serious compression on my feet, which provided huge relief for the Plantar Fasciitis I had (and still have to some extent) in both of my feet.  Compression from toe to knee really feels great after a long run, and really cut down on soreness the following day.  I had none of the calf issues/strains from my first marathon training during my second training plan, and I think the socks helped make this happen.

Finally, after I finished the second marathon I put these guys on for the ~4-hour ride home, and was pleasantly surprised that I had little discomfort on the ride, and had no issues with cramping in my lower legs.  My quads were an entirely different story, but the socks couldn’t do anything about them.  Damn quads.

These CEP socks are very well made, and don’t seem to have lost any of their compression strength since the first time I wore them.  They are made by medi, which is the leading manufacturer of medical compression items, so they come with a wealth of knowledge and research behind their products.  Added bonus … they’re based right here in my home state of North Carolina.  That really has no bearing on how well they work, but I like to see Tarheels making quality products and helping us runners make it to the starting line and the finish line.

Basically, these socks really feel great, and I truly think they help me, which can be just as important as any medical/technical research into their measurable impact.  My new friends at sportscompression.com, who were kind enough to provide me these socks for evaluation, have also been kind enough to pass along a code for a 15% discount to anybody placing an order on www.sportscompression.com.  Just use the code BLOG15 when placing an order to receive the discount.  There’s a link to the site on my blog sidebar as well.  Check out the all the compression products they offer and get yourself some pressure today.  Your legs will thank you.


  1. That race photo with the one sleeve makes you appear to be the Michael Jackson of the endurance compression world!

  2. I love my bright pink CEP socks! Not only are they attractive and warm but they help me recover!

  3. are compression socks like regular running tights, but tighter? Is there a difference?

  4. alright, stop. callaborate and listen... ok i really won'te recite the words - but thanks for putting that song in my head for the rest of the day...

    I'm going to check them out...would you believe with all this running I've yet to try a pair of comp socks? I know, crazy. But I definitely need something for my quads rather than calves. I'll have to see what they can help me with...

    Thanks for your kind comments this week...much appreciated! :)

  5. This is very serious information.

    ... but don't your boys complain with those compression shorts on?

  6. Thanks for this. I have been reading about this stuff for months and just never mustered the interest or energy to act on it.

    I am going to visit my PT this again Friday for more contortion on my lef. I am going to ask him about compession socks. Not that I don't trust you or anything.

  7. I have worn them during races (a marathon) - I think it gave me some added confidence.

  8. I'm a compression fan too. And with you on Vanilla Ice!

  9. I've got some compression socks as well and love them. I have yet to wear them on a really long run but plan to.
    I've had that piraformis issue before and it really sucks. I saw a good chiropractor that helped to work it out. It wasn't the prettiest appointment and I about died of embarrassment but could have kicked myself for waiting so long to go in because it helped so much.
    Barefoot running has really been good to me so far. After reading Born to Run, it's hard not to want to try it out at least!

  10. Yeah nice post, will have to let our members know about your response to the compression socks...looks like full leg pants are next for you.