No, this isn’t a post about some new form of protecting livestock, I’m talking about the calf socks for running.
Well, they are a bit more technical than that, but that’s basically what they look like. Having seen more and more runners using calf guards, I figured I would give them a try to see if they really helped.
Why? Because I’ve always suffered from tight calf muscles and if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know my tight calf muscles have been responsible for both my bouts of plantar fasciitis, as well as my current issue with shin soreness.
I have amended my gait to a mid-foot landing, under my centre of gravity, with greater rearward extension to engage my hamstrings and glutes for propulsion, thereby putting less strain on my calf muscles for the same speed. I have also continue with my static stretching and foam rolling at night, along with regular physio sessions; however my calf muscles remain very tight. Having seen a lot of people using calf guards, especially distance runners, I decided to bite the bullet and try them out. I did a bit of online research and stumped for the 2XU Calf Guards.
2XU say that their “calf guards are a great muscle containment device that can be worn during training or competition. They are engineered for active use with powerful fabrics offering unparalleled breathability, moisture management and flexibility to keep the wearer comfortable and focussed” along with these additional benefits:
Out the door for my warm up and the first thing I noticed on the walk up the stairs was how my calf muscles felt ‘contained’ – I could feel the compression tightening as the muscle flexed. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it was a different sensation to both bare legs or compression tights. After my warm-up I trotted off and for the first 50 yards I did notice that my calf muscles felt different. There seemed to be less shock and a certain ‘squeeze’ during the contact and push-off phases, however after that I got used to them and really stopped noticing them.
In fact, I stopped noticing them to the point that my calf muscles became conspicuous by their absence in my regular body scans. Hip flexors tightening, yep. Hmm, twinge in left ITB, change side of road. Hamstring tightening on right side, need to watch that. Calf muscles. Calf muscles? Nothing.
Just a sensation of warm, snug, squeeze.
As I pushed on to the end of my seven miles (at race pace) I became acutely aware that as my quad and hamstring pain increased, my calf muscles continued to be conspicuously absent on my pain scale. This was really interesting for me, because it’s normally the other way around for me. Sure, as I neared the end of my seven miles, I started to feel my calf muscles, but they weren’t getting as sore as my other muscles, nor at the same rate of pain increase. I kept them on for an hour after the run as well, and noticed the next day that my calf muscles showed less muscle soreness than my hamstrings and quads.
Overall, I was very impressed with how such a simple looking piece of kit could make such a dramatic difference to how I felt during my run and to my recovery. I will certainly be continuing my use of them, particularly on my long runs and races!
Do you use calf guards or other compression gear? What have been your results with them?
Happy running everyone!
Get Going, Get Running!