I’ve been a big fan of compression for many years. Before compression even entered the sports lexicon, I was the proud owner of many pairs of medical grade compression stockings, leggings and socks. Let’s just say I had compression when compression wasn’t cool.
I was blessed with the propensity for varicose veins; I suspect this is part of the reason my legs swell if I just look at them wrong. I have had my bad veins stripped out consistently over the years, which makes an enormous difference. But I still tend to swell daily especially if I stand a lot; it gets even worse with significant muscle damage from training.
I have been known to run and bike in my long compression socks; I have some really colorful pairs. I do this not so much for performance (science is mixed on that last I checked) but more to get a head start on swelling control.
I’ve been using compression with my knee recovery, but I admit I had gotten a little lax. And the other day my leg was so swollen I a) realized I’d better be diligent and b) pulled out the big guns, my Normatec recovery boots.
I had been afraid to use my Normatec recovery boots because the compression is pretty intense and I didn’t know if my knee could handle it. But it was time.
What a difference. In the past three days I’ve been diligent about spending as much time as possible sitting (ugh) and alternating between ice and compression. And I’ve been trying to wear compression garments when I’m out and about. My knee is now recognizable as a knee. Hallelujah!
So here are some of my favorites in case you feel the need to spend some money:
2XU compression flex leg sleeves: I have tried many compression recovery tights, but I just don’t love having tights on. Leg sleeves are perfect but harder to find. For years I just wore thigh high compression stockings! But now I have a pair of 2XU’s compression leg sleeves and I really like them. They have been perfect for wearing under my brace to keep the swelling down. And you can wear them under regular clothes (probably not your skinny jeans).
I have ordered a pair of leg sleeves from a Colorado Company called RecoFit. I’m excited to try them. I just found them a few days ago. I’ll let you know what I think. They look pretty high tech; hopefully they deliver!
CEP Progressive+ Ultralight compression run socks: One of the complaints I have had with compression socks over the years is that they are often relatively thick. I prefer an almost nothing sock. I prefer no socks at all, but that isn’t generally a good idea on the trails. So when I found these new ultralight socks from CEP, I had to give them a try. I am sold. They are very thin, they feel great and they come up all the way to my knee. And they have some great colors! These are my new go to compression sock.
Normatec Recovery system: ALERT: NOT CHEAP!! I have had my system for many years; I think I have Version 1.0 and they’ve definitely changed the technology AND increased the price over the years. The basic version of their Normatec Pulse will now set you back about $1500. But to their credit, my system still works flawlessly after all these years. And it has seen a lot of use.
For those of you who haven’t been to an endurance race finish line lately, Normatec has a system where you insert yourself into big inflatable boots (they also have attachments for your arms and hips), hook in to the power pack and press go. The boots then slowly inflate/compress from the foot up. I suspect it is like having a boa constrictor slowly wrap its way up your leg. But less deadly.
Simply put, it is amazing. Many athletes now use this contraption as a recovery tool. I use it because it feels so damn good, knocks the swelling right out of my legs; heck, if it helps with my recovery, that’s a bonus.
I’ve been hand cycling quite a bit. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I’ve been trying to get out on the hand cycle with Puck and Bandit. They play hard while I grind slowly along. Tired dog? Mission accomplished.
This Saturday Puck and I drove down to Gunnison to hand cycle with my former Pilates instructor, Kenny, who has just started hand cycling because of various injuries. We were quite a trio, but it was fun to be out with someone going my same slow pace.
Today we had a run/hand cycle/play date with Alexis, Jason, their son (pushed by Jason) and their two dogs. They were running and since it was uphill from the start, I couldn’t hang with them for long. Luckily Puck readily forgets I even exist when Frank and Edgar (dogs) are around to chase. He didn’t even look back. Fine by me! I took my time, spent a lot of time smelling the roses and then hung with them on the way back down. Tired dog? Mission accomplished!
My arms feel like they are about to fall off. I think Labor Day will be a rest day from hand cycling.
I hope everyone is having a nice weekend!