Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Gear Review: RecoFiT Calf Component Compression Sleeve

RecoFit is a small Boulder, CO based company that specializes in compression wear. The name RecoFit comes from the words recovery and fitness, and the company currently has two offerings: the Armcooler Compression Sleeve and the Calf Component Compression Sleeve. The RecoFit Calf Component is a calf sleeve, meaning it supports your lower leg but still allows you to wear the sock of your choosing. You may remember me mentioning them during my review of the Saucony AMP PRO2 recovery tight. Here's the full review.

RecoFit's description of the Calf Component Compression Sleeve is as follows:
Unique sleeve supporting the lower leg’s muscles and circulation from the ankle to the knee.  Available in black or white.
Proper fit is extremely important for effective compression so RecoFit offers a wide variety of sizes based on the calf’s circumference. If your measurement is on the cusp between sizes, choose the smaller size.
* RecoFit’s calf compression components superior design and materials include GreatFiT ™ -- Gradient Recovery Exercise & Activity Technology -- delivering gradient compression where it’s needed most to reduce negative exercise and travel effects and maximize recovery. Careful pattern-making and construction provide gradient compression from the ankle up towards the knee, helping to return the blood to the heart.
* Resistex Negative-ion circulation assistance through Resistex™ carbon yarns increases blood oxygenation and supports the immune system as well as offering ribbed massage, compression, moisture-management and breathability.
* Superior materials featuring the finest breathable and most comfortable Italian fabrics and flat-seam construction that do not bind or irritate. The contour and cross-grain-cut of the fabric provides maximum compression benefits.
* Versatility and performance: Recofit components are more versatile and specific than shorts, tights or socks.
* Left- and right-specific for optimum fit and performance, as well as a wide range of sizes to best suit individual needs.

When I first took the RecoFit Calf Component out of the box, the first thing I noticed is how small they appear. However, it must have either been an optical illusion or they stretch a bit, because once on, they extend from just below my knee to just above my malleoli (those two bony prominences on either side of your ankle). The next thing I noticed is how compressive these really are. This isn't like the Saucony AMP PRO2 or the Nike or UnderArmour compression shorts. These were tight, like the compression gear offered by companies like CW-X (though the fabric is far less thick than CW-X's). As further testament to how tight they are, getting the sleeve on can be a little bit of a challenge. However, though they are tight, they aren't uncomfortable at all, and I have no problem sleeping in these at night or wearing them under my pants during the day. Additionally, since they are only a calf sleeve, they stay relatively cool in the summer.

So they're tight, but do they work? The RecoFit Calf Component utilizes gradient compression to promote blood flow back to the heart. They also seem to offer some type of zonal compression, with a different weave used over the anterior portion of your shin and ribbing over your gastrocnemius (the big bulb muscle of your calf). I tend to be prone to anterior tibialis soreness (the shin muscle in the front of your lower leg that you feel when you dorsiflex your foot) when coming back from a layoff, when ramping up mileage, or when running on certain surfaces (namely the indoor track). I hesitate to call it shin splints because it's not shinsplints, which is actually defined as medial tibial stress syndrome, which affects the tibia itself, rather than the muscle. This was a big problem for me in college, when I would spend at least an hour a day during indoor track season trying to stretch and ice my shins, and not usually getting any results. Additionally, the first day in a pair of spikes or flats with a low heel-toe differential wrecks my calves, though, admittedly, this is a minor problem compared to the reaction my shins have to running. Since starting to wear the RecoFit Calf Component at night, calf delayed onset muscle soreness has all but disappeared. I've worn the Adizero PR for half-marathons, the Brooks T5 for 14 mile workouts, and the Nike Streak 3 for a marathon and my calves have been fine the next day (not necessarily the rest of my body, but my calves were ready to go). They have not eliminated all of my shin soreness, though they've definitely decreased the duration of it, and instead of suffering for the first month after a layoff or for the duration of the winter season, my shin soreness has been reduced to about a week. (To be fair, last winter I was doing one indoor track workout per week, rather than an indoor track workout + a race like I was in college, so the volume on the indoor track was smaller). I'm not entirely sure whether this is due solely to the compression or if the Resistex fabric has anything to do with it, but I have no doubt that they do work. I have also done a few recovery runs in them, but didn't see any noticeable difference during or after the run, so I stopped using them during activity.

The RecoFit Calf Component seems to be reasonably durable. While the logos and lettering fell off within the first month of using them (they appeared to be heat pressed on), the sleeve itself is still in good condition after two years of sleeping in them 3-4 times per week. One of the sleeves is starting to form a small hole, but it does not yet affect their function. I wash them in cold water and line dry them, though the tag says that they're safe to tumble-dry.

The RecoFit Calf Component is available in black or white, and can be purchased for $44.95. The price is comparable to similar offerings from CEP, Zoot, 2XU, and Zensah, though I don't know how the RecoFit compares to any of those products. However, I do know that the RecoFit sleeves work as claimed, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to anyone. For comparison's sake, I wear the XS Calf Component, which is the same size I should probably be wearing in the AMP PRO2. The sizing chart is accurate, and if you fall between sizes, go with the smaller size.

Full disclosure: I was provided the RecoFit Calf Component from Fleet Feet Boulder before I moved. If you're ever in Boulder, look them up!

3 comments:

  1. I've always wondered about these compression things. I've been lucky not having too many issues except a pesky left knee arthritis deal.
    I'm going to look into them. Thanks for the information. Also, I found your races stories interesting and inspiring. I wish I had run in college.

    Ken

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  2. Ken, they seem to help you recover faster by encouraging blood flow, so even if you're not having any issues, well, I think we'd all take faster recovery! Some people seem to like them for activity too (Paula Radcliffe and Chris Solinsky being two of the most well-known), since they are supposed to limit muscle damage, though as I stated above, I didn't personally notice a during-activity difference.

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  3. Nice post ! This really helps me to find the answers to my question. Hoping that you will continue posting an article having a useful information. Thanks a lot ! this is useful article i like it.

    ReplyDelete

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