Calf compression sleeves are designed to provide comfort and support for athletes of all levels. Though more research is needed to fully understand the role of compression in performance, there is some evidence that sleeves may aid in running performance (1). Additionally, other studies have shown that calf compression sleeves may help cut down on post workout soreness and improve recovery, even if part of that effect is psychological (2) (3). 

Whether you’re an experienced athlete looking to shave a few seconds off your P.R. or a weekend warrior trying to feel less banged up at the office, calf compression sleeves may be worth a shot. Folks who spend all day on their feet or suffer from circulation issues while traveling may also benefit from calf compression sleeves. We rounded up some of the top options on the market and took a look at how to distinguish between them.

Calf Compression Sleeves

Editors’ Choice:

Run Forever Compression Sleeves

Pros:

  • Available in four sizes and 10 solid colors, plus one with American flag design.
  • These sleeves are designed to keep muscles warm and relieve shin splints, offering a graduated compression strength of 20-25mmHg.
  • Fabric is 75% nylon and 25% spandex. 
  • Run Forever’s sleeves are competitively priced and come with a lifetime guarantee.

Cons:

  • These are only designed to accommodate users up to 6’ 3”.
Run Forever Compression Sleeves
Run Forever Compression Sleeves
Run Forever Compression Sleeves

Run Forever touts their compression sleeves for their comfort, assuring folks that you’ll forget you’re wearing them. Offering a graduated compression strength of 20-25mmHg, these sleeves are available in 11 colors at a reasonable price point. 

Contender:

Rymora Calf Compression Sleeves

Pros:

  • In addition to being marketed toward athletes, Rymora claims their compression sleeves can help pregnant folks alleviate swollen feet. 
  • Sleeves provide 18-25mmHg compression and are made of 54% nylon, 39% polyester, and 7% elastane. 
  • Very competitively priced.
  • Available in six sizes.

Cons:

  • These compression sleeves are only available in four colors – black, white, neon pink, and neon yellow, with the logo featured prominently on the backside of each sleeve.
Rymora Calf Compression Sleeves
Rymora Calf Compression Sleeves
Rymora Calf Compression Sleeves

Rymora Calf Compression Sleeves are intended to prevent calf cramps and shin splints while reducing achilles pain. Available at a competitive price, these sleeves provide 18-25mmHg compression. 

Also Consider:

BLITZU Calf Compression Sleeve

Pros:

  • BLITZU markets their compression sleeves not just toward athletes but to anyone who spends all day on their feet for their job, such as nurses. 
  • Compression technology is designed to promote blood circulation, graded out at 20-30mmHG.
  • These sleeves are available in 8 colors, each of which has a sort of racing stripe-equse design on the side. 
  • Competitively priced. 

Cons:

  • These sleeves are only available in two sizes, fewer than some of the competing compression sleeves on the market. 
  • Fabric is 100% nylon.
BLITZU Calf Compression Sleeve
BLITZU Calf Compression Sleeve
BLITZU Calf Compression Sleeve

Designed to offer relief from shin splints and calf pain, BLITZU’s calf compression sleeves area available in 8 colors at a competitive price point. The manufacturer touts a “3D Kinesiology Design” that joins together the stability of kinesiology tape with compression technology.

Most Design Options:

Doc Miller Premium Compression Sleeves

Pros:

  • Available in 39 different styles, including solid colors and argyle patterns, with some sleeves cutting off at the ankle and others extending through the foot and being cut off before the toes. 
  • Doc Miller’s compression sleeves come in 9 different sizes, making them compatible with a wide variety of leg types, particularly on the larger end of the spectrum.
  • Sleeves are 77% nylon and 23% spandex, and grade out to 20-30mmHg of compression.
  • Designed to help increase blood circulation in your legs and decrease muscle soreness after exercise.

Cons:

  • Doc Miller’s compression sleeves come in a very wide range of prices, ranging from ultra competitive to cost-prohibitive depending on style and size.
Doc Miller Premium Compression Sleeves
Doc Miller Premium Compression Sleeves
Doc Miller Premium Compression Sleeves

With nearly 40 different styles available, Doc Miller Premium Compression Sleeves have a color to match almost any outfit. These 77% nylon, 23% spandex compression sleeves come with a 100% money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied. 

Methodology

Calf compression sleeves are intended to increase blood flow and cut down on muscle soreness. While these are commonly used by athletes, they may also be beneficial for folks who spend all day on their feet, pregnant women, or those who suffer from circulation issues during travel. Before checking out a pair for yourself, take a look at some of the key features of calf compression sleeves.

Compression

Compression is quantified by the amount of pressure applied to a body part, measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Folks dealing with particular medical conditions will be prescribed a particular level of compression to help improve circulation. Typically, calf compression sleeves fall somewhere in the 20-30mmHg, with the lower end representing less compression, and the higher value meaning more pressure. 

Style

This one’s a bit more subjective. But if you think having a fun color on your leg will help improve your mile time, who’s going to tell you it won’t?

Fabric

The most common materials used in calf compression sleeves are nylon and spandex, while a few companies will utilize polyester and elastane as well. On the whole, nylon is a bit more sturdy, while spandex offers more give. 

Fit

Not all Mediums are created equally. Take a look at the sizing chart for each brand. Then, do the work and take a measuring tape to ensure you’re getting a sleeve that fits properly. You don’t want to end up with a pair of sleeves that are so tight they cut off circulation or so loose that they slip down while you’re exercising. 

BarBend Tips

  • If you’re plagued by lower leg pain during or after exercise, you may also want to pay attention to how much – or little – you’re stretching your lower legs. Warm up and cool down with some calf raises or calf stretches. If you’re suffering from lasting pain or discomfort, consult a medical professional. 
  • Look for a compression sleeve that has a band underneath the knee – this will help ensure that the sleeves stay in place while you’re working out. 
  • If you’re intending to use compression sleeves while sitting or traveling, it may be a good idea to find one that offers slightly less compression.

Calf compression sleeves are designed to increase blood circulation and may help some athletes increase performance and cut down on post activity soreness and swelling. If you have consistent, chronic lower leg pain, it’s probably wise to consult a medical professional.

References 

  1. Kemmler W, von Stengel S, Köckritz C, Mayhew J, Wassermann A, Zapf J. Effect of compression stockings on running performance in men runners. Journal of strength and conditioning research. 2009;23(1):101-105.‌
  2. Ali A, Caine MP, Snow BG. Graduated compression stockings: physiological and perceptual responses during and after exercise. Journal of sports sciences. 2007;25(4):413-419. ‌
  3. Jakeman JR, Byrne C, Eston RG. Lower limb compression garment improves recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage in young, active females. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 2010;109(6):1137-1144.