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A Review: Zensah Leg Sleeves

Hey guys and happy Monday to you! Just a thought to get your day started out right:

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I hope you guys all had a great weekend. Mine was full of some action (time with our friends Craig and Mandi Saturday and a ski day with new friends all day Sunday at Lake Louise) and some down time (grocery shopping, vacuuming, laundry and a movie together at home Friday night): a perfect mix. Some working out, some recovery; some intentional movement, some rest.

Part of my rest included letting the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) in my calves quiet down a bit after my first run in my Vibram Five Finger shoes of the year! Back outside and enjoying good weather (“good” is relative in Calgary; sunny and shorts Wednesday, cold and snowing huge, wet flakes Thursday!) in my favorite minimalist shoes.

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One of the reasons I was amped to get my feet back in these shoes for more than just a workout was because I had some more support with me and a new piece of running gear to try out: my Zensah compression leg sleeves! I’d talked about it before but wanted to share my initial and final thoughts with you, including some background on why compression and why compression with minimal footwear first.

Overview:

  • Compression sleeves help increase oxygen blood flow to the lower legs
  • Pin-point compression to shin and calf muscles
  • Reduce recovery time (keeping those legs fresh and ready for more!)
  • Reduce muscle vibration.

Barefoot Running:

Minimalist running uses gravity as the main contributor to forward momentum, and wearing barefoot or minimalist shoes forces the runner to strike differently than they would with a cushioned shoe. Rather than a (harsh, shock-loading) heel strike, you’ll see barefoot runners running more on the middle or front of the foot, and by doing so they have almost no impact collision and therefore avoid friction.

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How Compression Helps:

When I first started using my Vibrams, I noticed that I had to work my body into them slowly (and read many cautionary tales of building up to using them for runs and more use). I felt so many muscles differently because I was striking the ground differently with each stride. As I mentioned above, minimalist running emphasizes landing on the ball of your foot, which means that calves accustomed to shod running aren’t as strong and ache like you’ve just worked them out after running barefoot. Especially if you’re not careful to build up your calf muscles by not going all-out in your new Vibrams or minimalist shoes, mid-foot striking can create calf cramping and soreness. But wearing compression leg sleeves before, during, and after barefoot runs can help prevent calf cramping and soreness that results from this type of running.

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So…what did I think after trying them out? Below are my thoughts in two separate videos, the first being my initial thoughts mid-run in my New Balance shoes (lightweight and quite minimal) and Vibrams; the second being my final thoughts post-runs and after some recovery.

My calves are still tender today and I realized I should have worn the leg sleeves while skiing all day! I know that would have helped, and also having them on more Saturday after my speedier Friday Vibram run. But I’m excited to keep using them for long runs, hard runs, and most importantly minimal runs as I continue to pursue running the way that feels best for me and builds up my natural body. I would definitely recommend them to runners who push hard, run long, and/or are thinking about transitioning to barefoot running!
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Have you used compression gear before? Leg sleeves? What did you think?
Have you ever tried any of Zensah’s running gear?
Special thanks to Zensah for the sleeves to test out; I have no doubt I will see much use of them as we transition into spring and for the years to come!
Have a great Monday you guys! I’ll catch ya on the flip side, and until then, live well & be well,
Bonnie
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