For those of you who have only recently begun to read our posts, you may be asking yourself “what the heck is a calf-ocalypse?” Calf-ocalypse is a term Meagan and I coined after our first foray into minimalist running. I won’t go into vivid detail (check out Chapter 2 of our Vibram Transition series if you are interested) but the pain, stiffness, and discomfort in your calves after running barefoot/minimalist for the first time (and overdoing it) can be so unbearable that you’d almost prefer not to have legs at all. With that said, Meagan and I have continued to try to find solutions in order to relieve, recover from, or even eliminate calf distress by using foam rollers, heat pads, The Stick, and just good old fashion massage. More recently, our friends at Berkeley Running Company in Madison, WI introduced us to compression sleeves, compression socks, and recovery socks. Pictured to the right is a Sigvaris Compression Sock (in black), and a Sigvaris Compression Sleeve (in orange), both of which have proven well in the battle against the calf-ocalpyse (review to come).
Compression leg wear was designed as a way to increase oxygen delivery to muscle tissue and to improve blood circulation while we run. As we learned during the lesson on breathing, more oxygen equals more endurance, less cramping, and longer, more efficient runs. Compression leg wear also eliminates some of the vibration during your run which increases speed of muscle regeneration.
Recovery socks are slightly different in that they are designed to be worn after a run, whether it is directly after you complete a race or if you just enjoy lounging around your home in knee-high socks (picture to the left is me at the computer enjoying my recovery socks while playing Diablo III). Recovery socks focus solely on delaying onset muscle soreness by improving blood circulation around damaged muscles after a run.
All in all I believe the investment is definitely worth it and their claims to increase endurance and delay onset muscle soreness seem to be accurate. You can find sleeves priced between $20 and $70, compression socks between $20 and $100, and recovery socks around $30 to $50 at most local running specialty shops or you can order them online. Finally, for anyone reading that has just slipped on their new minimalist shoe and is thinking about going for a quick run, STOP! Take off the shoes, get in your car, and pick up some compression/recovery leg wear before the calf-ocalypse gets you.
You know I had to….