Tuesday, December 7, 2010

CEP compression sock review

The stockings all hung by the chimney with care......sorry, couldn't resist  :)
So after attending a Powertri clinic about compression apparel I walked away with a pair of CEP compression socks.  I'm telling you people, if you're local, come to the clinics!  They're free, they're always informative, and you often times leave with product of some kind.  I answered a question right, so I got a pair of socks.  Come to the clinics!  And if you can't, you can watch them live online, or recorded online here.  Here is a link to the compression clinic I refer to in this review.

So anyway, I was thrilled to have a pair, and like some women, questioned and questioned what color to get, and eventually ended up with pink which I like.  The pink is pretty trendy with the ladies so if you want to be different, pink might not be your choice.  Believe me, I considered the lime green  :)   I was excited to get them when I did since my husband and I were going to run the Halloween Half Marathon in a couple weeks and it is a very downhill course, perfect testing grounds.

Compression is about lowering muscle vibration/bounce during impact, but more importantly, all about blood flow and keeping it from pooling in your feet and calves. Compression wearproper compression wear keeps the blood flowing well which improves oxygenation of the blood, improving lactic acid metabolism. We're all going to produce lactic acid, it's just an energy cycle, but with the proper oxygen in your blood it can get flushed out more efficiently. CEP's socks and sleeves (the term for calf sleeves, socks without the foot part basically) do not have to only be used during activity, but can be used before and after as well. As explained at CEPsocks.com, "Pre-exercise - muscle activation and reduction of injury risk, During Exercise - optimized performance and stabilization, reduced muscle strain, Post-Exercise - quicker and shorter recovery phase"
Now I've had compression wear, but only true recovery tights, these ones from Zoot, not active wear.  I think I notice a difference with the recovery tights, but it can be hard to tell how much with recovery only stuff, I do think it's beneficial though.  Maybe I'll wear one leg on one leg off sometime.....ok, probably not....maybe.  I was hoping for a more noticeable difference with the CEP socks since you use them during.  CEP even "consistently see increases in athlete's performance by up to 5% as well as a drastic reduction in recovery time and increase in lactic acid metabolization.".  5%?  Do the math, that's a savings of 12 minutes in a 4 hour marathon, or 4.5 minutes in a 1:30 half marathon.  That's pretty significant for a pair of socks my friends.  I didn't get to test them out for speed, but I did for distance, elevation drop and lactic acid metabolism.  And let me tell you, watching people at the finish line of this race really proved it.  Everyone was protecting their calves and complaining how bad they hurt, which is understandable on such a steep downhill course.  Been there, done that, many a time.  The pain for me?  Nada, nothing, zipp!  Seriously, my calves felt the same way they did when we started the race.  My poor husband, several friends, and dozens of people on the race's Facebook page were dying right after and for several days, but I honestly felt no pain or discomfort at all.  And I don't attribute that to running slower than my usual race pace since I was with my husband.  I ran a 10 mile downhill long run with my husband and friend at a pace slower than my race pace the week before and I came away considerably sore, but not this race day.  These results were unlike anything I've ever felt.  This is definitely something I will be using in my next half marathon or marathon, for sure!

So now that you're intrigued, let me tell you a little bit more about CEP.  They are a company from Germany (thanks to Sarah for the correction) and have just penetrated the athletic scene in the U.S. over the last couple years and are now the most popular brand of compression socks at Kona, the 140.6 Ironman World Championships.  They come from a medical background making true medical grade compression necessary for some people's day to day health.  They make excellent quality stuff, not just slightly snug socks that look cool (or not depending on who you're talking to).  Check out the science here. as well as the CEP link above.  I've tried on 3-4 different popular brands and these guys have it right.  They have a left and right sock as our feet are not the same, they have more Achilles and ankle support than any other brand I've tried, and they're long enough.  That's a big issue with a lot of brands, especially calf sleeves (socks without the foot part, used mainly for shorter triathlons), some can come very short.  The sole in these socks is also really nice and padded.   I don't feel like I"m going to put a hole in these in a few months.  They are built anatomically, of course allowing room for your calf, true graduated compression, these socks are not just straight up tube socks, you in fact have to measure your calf to choose your size, not just choose small, medium, large.  And just a tip, the women's socks are the same, just shorter, so if you're a man with shorter legs consider getting the women's so that you don't end up with a lot of fabric under your knee.  And tall women, works both ways, find your calf measurement on the mens chart and buy a man's if you have really long legs.  CEP is great with a 30 day money back guarantee too, so you can give them a try.  Did I mention they're the lowest price tag brand out there?  Yeah, they are!  I LOVE selling people on CEP because it's such good quality stuff, honestly the best that I've tried, but for significantly less than the other big brands like Zoot, Skins, and 2XU.

A few more details I want to give you, a lot of people, myself included, see these and say "no way, I'm running in the middle of summer, I'm going to be way too HOT in those!".  Not so though, the socks have many ventilation channels, and actually help keep you cool when the water you splash on yourself at aid stations runs down your legs.
Socks vs Sleeves.  The socks are better for recovery than sleeves, can be worn for longer periods of exercise, and in my opinion are the best choice if you compete in half-full marathons or half-full Ironman races.  The sleeves lack the foot part obviously which interferes with circulation a bit, but are a good choice for shorter distance triathletes who don't want to take the time to put them on after the swim.  With a sleeve you still get benefit but you can wear it under your wetsuit.  You can also wear sleeves after with flip flops if you don't want closed toed shoes post race.  CEP also recommends you don't wear the sleeve for more than 2 hours of running, a sock is better suited for the 13.1 distances and up for most people.
And finally, how to put these on.  I didn't use them in Ironman St George this year obviously, but plan to the next time I race a half or full Ironman, especially such an arduous course like St George.  But I can't afford 5 minutes struggling to get them on.  If you're like me, you scrunch your socks up, push your feet in and are off.  Try that with a compression sock, go ahead  :)  It's going to be VERY hard to scrunch them (think trying to stretch a dozen+ elastics all together) and stretch them enough to get your foot in.  And add moisture to your foot and it gets even funner.  But Matt Frazier the CEP rep who came to the clinic showed us a great technique.  You fold down the top half of the sock inside out over the foot part, slide just the foot part (with leg section over top) on over the heel, then you can simply pull the leg part up.  Make sense?  Try it, even with a normal sock, so much easier.  I could easily say I could have these on in under a minute with this technique.

So there you go, a long review, I apologize, but I hope it helped some of you.  Compression isn't just a fad, and with great quality brands like CEP out there, you can find out what it's all about for yourself.  Powertri carries their full line of running/triathlon socks and sleeves (CEP does actually make other socks for many different uses like walking, hiking, winter sports, soccer, etc), so you can come in, get measured and try them on for yourself, or you can always order online.  My athlete discount code does sweeten the deal some too.  :)  Oh and it can get even sweeter.  Check out this link to win a free pair of socks or sleeves of your choice simply by submitting a photo of you wearing CEP in your next race.  Race and train on friends!!


Jarvis Family said...

You forgot to mention that CEP is GERMAN! I know you said the company is from Europe, but hey, Albania is in Europe too... Germany pretty much stands for quality :-)
I love CEP as well and def need to get another pair!

Leslie said...

Ha! I love you Sarah! Yes, Germany does pretty much stand for quality :)

Clara Snyder said...

Excellent article. I was checking continuously this blog and I am quite impressed! Extremely useful info specially the first part. I care for such info much. I was looking for this particular info for a long time. Thank you and good luck.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the nice review - very nice, really well done. Love my compression socks. I’m a big fan of compression socks, I’ve used them for recovery and during workouts – sometimes I even sleep in them.

Anonymous said...

Love the article. I totally agree about the CEP compression socks.

I am training to do my first half marathon.

I can actually FEEL the difference in my performance if I train without them.

I shopped around for the best price, and I found this

awesome website CompressionStockings.com

they offered free shipping and it was FAST.

I ordered some Pink in the sleeves, socks and now

they have night time running socks. Awesome find, awesome article

Just thought I'd share with ya :)

Gail Forcewind said...

Awesome job! I like to read this type of post and have wondered with your ability. I appreciate sports bra and compression sleeve for fitness.

jesika55 said...

They fit as advertised, very breathable, and customer service was great (they emailed me to let me know the product was shipped and sent directions for use/care, and then followed up to ensure I was happy with the product.

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