Are you on your feet all day? Do you suffer from lower leg soreness? Are you prone to lower leg injuries?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then compression socks and sleeves were made for you. Frequent travelers, nurses, servers, pregnant women, and athletes are some of the main consumers snatching this tight-fitting legwear off the shelves. As an athlete, I own several compression leg sleeves and socks because they feel good on my sore muscles.
After I wrote a guide exploring the best compression socks, Zensah, a Florida-based company founded in 2004, sent me their compression leg sleeves for free to test out. Below, I will look at what style options are available, how they performed, and whether you should consider picking up a pair.
My first experiences with the Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves
Zensah offers three sizes of leg sleeves based on the circumference of your calf at its thickest point while at rest. Extra-Small/Small is meant for calves 9.5" to 12.5" in circumference. Small/Medium is for 12.5" to 15". And, Large/Extra-Large is designed for calves between 15" and 18.5" round. Thanks to a lifetime of leg days, I have 17" calves and chose the Large/Extra-Large. These sleeves are 11" long, while the other two sizes are 9.5" long.
It's important to choose compression wear that looks good and fits your style so that you will be motivated to wear it. Fortunately, Zensah currently offers 42 different style options, including neon pink, navy, white, and a fun beer mug pattern. They sent me black, which isn't exciting but goes well with just about any outfit.
The materials vary drastically depending on whether you choose a solid color or heather color. The sleeves I tested are 90% nylon and 10% spandex. This "Zensah Fabric" is designed to regulate your temperature, keep away odors, and wick moisture. And, in my experience, the sleeves delivered on all of these claims.
The sleeves provide graduated compression — they're tighter at the bottom than at the top. The raised "micro-ribbing" targets and stabilizes the calf muscles. And, when you order these sleeves from Amazon, you can return them for free within 30 days of your purchase. This is helpful if they don't fit right.
How the compression leg sleeves performed
The L/XL fit great. It hugged my calf snuggly and provided compression from just above the ankles to just below the knee. Like any good compression wear, it took a little bit of elbow grease to get the sleeves on, but they would stay in place.
I wore the leg sleeves while cycling and during roller derby bouts. During one cycling workout, I set a personal best one-mile split time. In roller derby, I wore them in my first bout back after a knee injury and performed well enough to receive a player of the game award. My background in science won't allow me to say these performances were the product of the leg sleeves, but they may have helped.
I like wearing compression leg sleeves rather than compression socks during competition because any slight difference in how my skates fit can lead to blisters and affect my ability to make micro adjustments in my movements. Consequently, I always wear thin socks made of a cotton/polyester/spandex blend. Compression socks are usually thicker and made of other materials. I appreciated that the sleeves allowed me to wear whatever socks I wanted.
The leg sleeves appear to be quite durable. The pair I tested didn't get any holes, loose threads, or fade. Though Zensah recommends machine washing cold and tumble drying, I'm not sophisticated enough to separate my laundry so I washed and dried the sleeves with my other clothes on medium heat. I don't recommend doing this if you want to extend the life of your sleeves, but after about a dozen washes, I didn't notice any negative effects on the performance and appearance of the sleeves.
Some concerns about the leg sleeves
Though I had a just-right fit, this won't be the case for everyone. If you are especially short and have thick calves or are incredibly tall and have narrow calves, you may have a hard time finding a Zensah size that fits you. The sleeves designed for your calf circumference may be too long or too short for your lower leg, which leads to a less than optimal fit. Fortunately, if the sleeves don't fit, you can get a refund.
Zensah does not appear to give a compression rating for the leg sleeves. I mention this because some consumers find this number useful, though personal fit, construction, and material can cause two sleeves with the same compression rating to feel drastically different.
If you're looking to get a leg up on the competition, the Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves may be worth a try. It's hard to say if they improved my performance compared to not having sleeves. But, I didn't notice any significant muscle fatigue while wearing them.
If you suffer from shin splints, calf cramps, or you notice lower-leg fatigue affecting your athletic performance, I recommend giving the Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves a shot.