Compression socks and sleeves are all the rage in performance sports these days, promising enhancements in performance, comfort and recovery. Hikers and backpackers, who often walk long distances with heavy loads, can benefit from wearing CEP compression sleeves for the lower leg. CEP products, which include not only socks and leg sleeves but also shorts, tights and shirts, are manufactured with German precision in Bayreuth, Germany, CEP products cover a wide range of sports including running, biking, triathlon, soccer and other activities.
Clinical research has long proven the benefits of compression in certain patients with vascular problems. Compression stockings (TED hose) are a staple in hospitals where they are prescribed for many patients to prevent blood clots known as DVTs (deep vein thrombosis). More recently, however, the principle of compression, which aids venous return of blood, has been applied to sports.
CEP claims that their products enhance performance and recovery through the targeted use of compression to improve blood circulation and speed up lactate metabolism. When sorting out the research it is helpful to keep in mind the separate components of performance and recovery. The performance claims are harder to prove but the data do appear to support improved recovery with compression, in general. In addition, comfort can be considered to be an important factor. After all, the retail world is rife with products that appeal solely to sensory feelings of pleasure whether it’s using a soft pillow when sleeping in a tent or applying silky lotion to Sierra-dried skin. Many athletes report that wearing compression sleeves or socks during or after exerting themselves just plain feels good.
CEP uses breathable synthetic (Nylon and Spandex) or natural merino wool fibers that guide moisture away from the skin surface and cause evaporative cooling and the design eliminates creases that can cause friction and blistering. The calf sleeve provides 20-30 mmHg of pressure from ankle to calf with 18 mmHg consistent compression over the calf. The added compression may provide increased stability and coordination by supporting the muscles of the lower leg. The fabric is treated with an antibacterial process that reduces odor.
Before ordering CEP products measurements must be taken. This assures that the product fits properly in order to provide true compression. For the calf sleeve the calf is measured at the widest point to determine which size is needed, ranging from size two to five.
In a field test a size-three calf sleeve was used over the summer during multiple hiking and backpacking trips. It was too hot to use them while hiking but they were welcome during chilly Sierra evenings, paired with socks and either shorts or synthetic hiking pants. They were also used at night while sleeping both at home and in a tent. The sleeves fit snugly but were not overly tight and were easier to don than the hospital type of socks. The materials were well-made of quality materials with good elasticity and stitching. After multiple washings no difference in elasticity was noted. Subjectively, it appeared that recovery was enhanced after a long hikes with legs feeling fresher than expected. Less soreness and stiffness was experienced the following morning. They were comfortable to wear and provided a feeling of lightness in lower legs. No swelling of the feet was noticed, even with the sleeve that extended from immediately below the knee to just above the ankle protrusion.
CEP compression sleeves are comfortable and appear to increase recovery after long hikes. The quality of materials and manufacturing is high and the sleeves are durable with good elasticity even after multiple washings. For those looking for compression products CEP is a quality purveyor.
CEP Progressive Compression Calf Sleeve
Comes in six colors
Made of Nylon and Spandex
Disclosure of material connection: I received samples for testing purposes but the opinions expressed are solely my own.