Keep Your Calves Cozy
When the compression rage first started to hit endurance sports about two years ago, most athletes turned towards compression for mainly recovery applications. Slowly, compression has started to make its way into active performance apparel for use during events. You can hardly go to any athletic event without seeing multiple athletes with compression on – especially the very popular calf compression sleeves.
I must state up-front, that I was very resistant to this idea. It seemed to me that compression in such a small area would not be that beneficial. Additionally, I had never thought my calf muscles would really benefit all that much from compression.
I must admit that I was wrong. I recently had the opportunity to test the Skins A400 Compression Calf Tights MX, and I must admit that I was impressed. I utilized these compression sleeves on several runs – with my longest being a 13-miler. Overall, I really liked how “fresh” they kept my legs. I had always assumed that calf compression sleeves would be for individuals that struggled with cramps in their calves. This has never happened to me, so I pretty much assumed that I would never use them. When I was doing the Wildflower Triathlon this year, however, I spoke with another athlete who had these. I asked him about cramps and he explained to me that the compression sleeves actually helped to keep the blood moving through his legs (i.e. helped return blood to heart), not actually prevent cramps at all. This was a new thought for me.
The Skins A400 Compression Calf Tights are a great quality pair of sleeves on the market today. They come in black and white. I got the white pair, and I must admit that I wish I would have gone with black. I thought getting white would be better for temperature control, but in my test this wasn’t an issue. Additionally, the white gets dirty easily, and I think they just look kind of funny compared to the black.
The sizing is very accurate. Their sizing chart recommended that I get a size S. The fit is very tight, and they can be a little tricky to get on over your feet. It should be a obvious, but make sure you don’t try to put them on while you’re wearing your running shoes.
As for the actual effect of compression, I really enjoyed the feeling on my lower leg muscles. I felt like I didn’t get nearly as fatigued as I have on past runs, my soreness level was much lower the next day, and I just felt like my legs remained fresher overall. Granted this could be partial mental, but again, if it gives you an edge then it’s worthwhile.
In terms of overall design, the A400s Calf Tights look good on, and have a simple, elegant design. They have few seams and I didn’t experience any chaffing or irritation while using them.
The Bottom Line ~
If you are looking for a high-quality pair of calf compression sleeves, I don’t think you can go wrong with Skins A400 Compression Calf Tights MX. Skins is a high-quality company with research and strong design, but you will pay a premium. The quality is top-notch and the sizing is accurate. The sleeves are very comfortable and I noticed a real difference in my longer runs. I would make sure to stay away from the white color. Overall this a great product, from a great company.