>A month or so ago, the folks at CEP asked me if I’d like to try a pair of their compression sleeves and write a review on my experience. Being interested in providing a service to the triathlon blog-reading public, I naturally agreed. 🙂 They were nice enough to send me a pair of sleeves and asked me to run them through the ringer, so to speak.
First: Technical FTC mumbo-jumbo. CEP sent me this pair of sleeves; I didn’t buy them. They didn’t ask me to say anything in particular about their product, therefore, all opinions expressed below are mine.
I wrote an article last week about the myriad of researach on compression (read it here) and the multiple schools of thought regarding whether compression is beneficial or not. In all honesty, though, I didn’t read all the research until I was well into testing these compression sleeves, so I wasn’t able to specifically target one particular aspect relating to compression…such as how they impact recovery.
Like many athletes, this was not my first trip down compression lane. I’ve worn Zensah compression sleeves for years, and this season I’m also using the Recovery Pump system. (Look for more on that system later on this week).
I was excited to give CEP’s compression sleeves a try, as I’ve generally had a positive experience with my Zensah sleeves.
Straight out of the gate, let’s refresh a little about compression. As I wrote last week, compression sleeves are a type of passive compression. The way compression works is via a couple of different mechanisms: enhancement of venous return and stabilization of musculature to reduce fatiguing. The thought (and research) shows that graduated compression increases intra-vein pressure, thereby forcing metabolic waste back towards the heart. Obviously, removing the bad waste aids in recovery, performance, and fatigue reduction. Additionally, research shows that mechanically supporting muscles reduces “oscillations” in the muscles, which ultimately reduces fatigue and prolongs the ability to perform.
I mentioned last week that CEP’s products were actually used in one of the scientific tests on the usability of compression in athletes. The study (known as the Kemmler study) showed that compression led to improvements in overall work ability, work velocity, and duration.
Graduated compression garments have a higher degree of pressure distally (towards the ankle) with changing degrees of pressure as you move proximally (up the calf). Too much pressure at the calf could cause a tourniquet-type setting, actually trapping metabolic waste in your muscles. Compression devices such as sleeves typically supply between 18 and 30 mg Hg of pressure.
CEP’s sleeves offer graduated compression, although I could not find the actual pressure rating for the sleeves on the packaging or on their website.
Look & Feel
As I opened the box for my compression sleeves, I was pleasantly surprised. Specifically, what surprised me was that there was no gripper elastic at the top or the bottom of the sleeve. In fact, the entire sleeve was knitted and didn’t have any “external” artifacts such as elastic, silicone, etc. See the picture below to show what the ends of the sleeve look like.
When I tried on my sleeves, I noticed that the CEP sleeves were much tighter than the pair of Zensah I own. This could be related to a couple of factors. Firstly, before I ordered my sleeves, CEP asked that I measure each of my calves and send the dimensions in to them. Turns out that my calves are not of equal diameter (what’s up with that), and as a result I fell in between two sizes of sleeve. They sent me size 4. Secondly, it could be that my Zensah sleeves have stretched out some through multiple wearings and washings (note: all compression garments WILL stretch over time. You will need to replace your compression gear at some time to maintain the structural integrity of the garments and to gain the desired benefits).
In short, I found that CEP’s compression sleeves were very well made, fit extremely well, and did not cause discomfort or chafing at all.
My goal was to put the sleeves through their paces before I rendered an opinion. So how exactly did I test them?
It would be a significant stretch for me to say that my testing of the CEP sleeves was scientific, but I did try them in a variety of settings. I ran in them. I recovered in them. I wore them after receiving active compression through my Recovery Pump. I wore them under work clothes as I flew from Florida to Idaho (and back). I washed them at least ten times. I didn’t swim in them, nor did I cycle in them. Frankly, I’m not sure that I’d ever cycle in compression socks or sleeves. The only reason I could think someone might want to do either would be to potentially save time in transition. That said, putting on the sleeves is a breeze and takes literally no time.
Having used compression for the past couple of years, I went into this testing thinking that I’d likely see some reduction of calf fatigue during long runs. I also suspected that the sleeves would benefit me during recovery from longer runs.
Both of those things happened. I ran several 8+ mile runs in these sleeves, and typically found my calves did not tighten up or cramp. Additionally, when I wore the sleeves for recovery, I found that my calves felt better than on the days that I didn’t. Again, these results are similar to results I had using my Zensah sleeves, so I cannot say that the proximate cause for the results I saw were just the CEP sleeves. I suspect that any brand of graduated compression sleeves would render similar results (and I’m no where near elite enough an athlete to be able to tell any differences that might exist).
I was very pleasantly surprised when I wore the CEP sleeves in conjunction with the active compression therapy I received from my Recovery Pump. I found that my legs felt fresher longer when I slept with the compression sleeves on following an evening’s use of the recovery pump than when I only used the recovery pump.
One thing I did with these sleeves that I had never done before was fly with them on. In April, I flew from Florida to Idaho and back…requiring four long flights (over 3 hours each). I wore the compression sleeves on both travel days. I found that my legs did not feel as fatigued as they normally feel post-flight. Additionally, during my runs during the week that I was in Idaho, I found that my legs were nowhere near as fatigued as I expected them to be.
Let’s face it….good compression gear is not inexpensive. Such is the case with CEP’s calf sleeves and socks. A pair of calf sleeves will set you back around $40.00 from a variety of online retailers.
Overall, I was pleased with CEP’s compression sleeves. They fit like a glove and I found good results from wearing them (especially when I wore them as a recovery aid).
I personally am an advocate of wearing compression for recovery purposes. Do CEP’s sleeves stand out against the competition? That’s a spectacular question. I’m not sure that I can answer that affirmatively. CEP will tell you that since their product was specifically used in a scientific study their product is superior to others. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. That’s for you to decide.
That said, I liked the sleeves. I’ve since retired my Zensah sleeves in favor of the CEP sleeves. Why? Better fit (mostly) and the lack of hair-yanking grippers. I’d recommend that you at least consider this brand if/when you’re evaluating compression sleeves.
More information on CEP can be found at their website
. CEP wants you to know that they have a 30 day guarantee, that their products are clinically proven to improve performance 5%, and are the compression favorite of tons of professional athletes such as Matt Reed, Andy Potts, Miranda Carfrae, and other.
And now…The CONTEST!!!!!!
I’m happy to give away a pair of CEP Compression Sleeves.
This contest will run until 12:01am ET, Saturday, May 7th. At that time, I’ll close the contest, tally up the entries, and pick a winner. Here’s the cool thing – you can get multiple “entries”:
: Do the following: Leave a comment here telling me why you love compression AND follow CEP on Facebook
AND follow CEP’s blog
. Yeah – multiple steps to get one entry, but it’s an easy price for admission…
Two Entries: Do the above AND become a follower of this blog. If you already follow, just mention that in your comment.
Best of luck!