The 11 Best Calf Compression Sleeves of 2021

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Best Calf Compression Sleeves

Verywell / Sabrina Jiang

Many people believe that calf compression sleeves improve their performance during exercise. And while some studies have found this to be true, others have found the exact opposite. That said, there seems to be agreement that some compression sleeves can promote circulation—boosting the oxygen levels in your blood. They've also suggested that compression sleeves may promote post-exercise recovery.

“During exercise—especially more strenuous activities, like running, heavy lifting, and HIIT classes—your muscles are put through the wringer,” says Dr. Natasha Trentacosta, M.D., sports medicine specialist and orthopedic surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles. As your muscle tissues break down and as water and lactic acid build up, your muscles can become sore and swollen. Dr. Trentacosta notes that compression sleeves may help counteract this.

Despite the research, you can consult an expert to see if compression sleeves are right for you. “The bottom line is, if it makes you feel better, there is very little downside to wearing it,” Dr. Jonathan Gelber, M.D., sports medicine doctor, says. “If it doesn't help, then you don't need to use it.”

Here are the best calf compression sleeves on the market.

Our Top Picks
A supportive and comfortable sleeve with mild, contoured compression makes this a top choice for many.
This budget-friendly option offers medium, graduated compression in a set of four sleeves.
Made entirely of bamboo, this sleeve is naturally anti-microbial and also boasts a unique, three-zone compression design.
A fun and functional option available in 35 colors and patterns.
Uses a design made with 73% cotton for a light and breathable compression sleeve.
Estimated to make your legs five degrees cooler, these sleeves also offer UV 50 protection and moisture-wicking technology.
For an extra-firm fit of 30 to 40 millimeters of mercury they're made of a nylon and spandex blend that holds up over time.
Sizes range from S to 5XL and come in six different colors, offering options for almost every size and preference.
These sleeves boast a four-way stretch design that moves with you and holds its shape over time.
Filled with specialty foam padding that offers support and relieves pressure for shin splints.

Best Overall: McDavid Calf Compression Sleeve

McDavid Calf Compression Sleeve
Pros
  • Mild, contoured compression

  • Moisture-wicking and quick-drying

  • Antimicrobial

  • Holds its shape over time

Cons
  • Quality control issues

  • May not run true to size

Crafted from durable, heavy-duty nylon, McDavid’s Calf Compression Sleeve is designed to contour to your leg, offering graduated compression exactly where you need it. It's looser at the top of the calf and tighter toward the bottom, but despite the heavy compression it's crafted for comfort.

The sleeve wicks away moisture, dries quickly, and resists odor-causing bacteria to keep you cool and dry throughout the day. It also lays flat against the leg to fight against pinching and bunching.

Quantity: One sleeve | Sizes: S-XL | Material: Nylon | Compression: 12.6 to 21 millimeters of mercury

Best Budget: Udaily Calf Compression Sleeves

Udaily Calf Compression Sleeves
Pros
  • Four compression sleeves

  • Seamless construction

  • Non-slip design

  • Multiple color options

Cons
  • Quality control issues

  • May not run true to size

Udaily's Calf Compression Sleeves are crafted from a durable nylon-spandex blend and they promise to hold their shape wash after wash. Each sleeve in the set of two is lined with two non-slip cuffs which keep them in place as you move.

Delivering 20 to 30 millimeters of mercury of graduated compression, they're made to feel as tight and comfortable as one's you'd find at a higher price point. They also come in nine color combinations—allowing you to find a set that you'll actually want to wear during your workouts.

Quantity: Four sleeves | Sizes: S-XL | Material: Nylon, spandex | Compression: 20 to 30 millimeters of mercury

Best Splurge: DonJoy Performance TriZone Calf Sleeve

DonJoy PerformanceTriZone Calf Sleeve
Pros
  • Three-zone compression

  • Non-slip design

  • Lined with reflective details

Cons
  • Not adjustable

  • Expensive

  • No compression amount listed

If you're willing to invest in a high-quality sleeve, consider DonJoy’s Performance TriZone Calf Sleeve which boasts a unique three-zone design that delivers different amounts of compression to multiple parts of your calf. You can also find non-slip silicone bands on both ends of the sleeve to keep it in place.

Most compression sleeves are crafted with nylon and spandex, but these ones from DonJoy are made entirely of bamboo, which is designed for comfort and breathability. The material is naturally antimicrobial, which helps cut down on odor, and several reflective details on the surface will increase your visibility in low-light conditions.

Quantity: One sleeve | Sizes: S-XL | Material: Bamboo | Compression: Not specified

Best Design: Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves

Zensah Leg Compression Sleeves
Pros
  • Multiple colors and patterns

  • Lined with chevron ribbing

  • Moisture-wicking and quick-drying

Cons
  • No compression amount listed

  • May not run true to size

  • May loosen over time

If you like compression sleeves that are as fun as they are functional, Zensah's Leg Compression Sleeves come in an array of vibrant colors and bold prints. Made with a blend of nylon and spandex, they'll feel both stretchy and lightweight. They also wick away moisture to keep you feeling dry and you work up a sweat.

Like other compression sleeves, these ones deliver graduated compression (though Zensah doesn’t specify how much compression you can expect). But they also boast a unique chevron ribbing design, which is fabricated to mimic the supportive feel of kinesiology tape.

Quantity: Two sleeves | Sizes: S-XL | Material: Nylon, spandex | Compression: Not specified

Best Breathable: Zeta Wear Plus Size Calf Compression Sleeve

Zeta Wear Compression Sleeves
Pros
  • Crafted from lightweight cotton

  • Moisture-wicking

  • Available in plus-sizes

  • Available in several colors

Cons
  • Limited size range

  • May roll down during wear

Zeta Wear makes classic compression sleeves with a blend of cotton, spandex, and nylon. This delivers a lightweight and breathable feel while offering the classic sturdy stretch you'd expect from a compression sleeve. Despite the unique textile blend, the moisture-wicking and anti-odor sleeves deliver 20 to 30 millimeters of mercury of graduated compression.

The only downside? They're available in a limited size range of L-3XL. This is great for plus-size individuals, but it might not work for those who fit into standard sizes.

Quantity: Two sleeves | Sizes: L-3XL | Material: Cotton, spandex, nylon | Compression: 20 to 30 millimeters of mercury

Best Cooling: McDavid uCool Compression Leg Sleeves

McDavid uCool Compression Leg Sleeves
Pros
  • Temperature regulation technology

  • Moisture-wicking

  • UV 50+ protection

Cons
  • No compression amount listed

  • May slip during wear

If your current compression sleeves leave you feeling overheated, consider giving McDavid’s uCool Compression Leg Sleeves a try. They come equipped with Active Cooling Technology—a unique feature that regulates the temperature of your legs during wear.

Aside from this high-tech feature, the compression sleeves are crafted with a blend of nylon and spandex. Designed to wick away moisture, you won't have to worry about sweat pooling under the sleeve. They also boast UV 50+ protection—making them a great option for sunny days.

Quantity: Two sleeves | Sizes: M- L | Material: Nylon, spandex | Compression: Not specified

Best Extra-Firm: Doc Miller Premium Open Toe Compression Socks

Doc Miller Premium Compression Sleeves
Pros
  • Above-average compression

  • Non-binding cuffs

  • Hold shape over time

  • Multiple colors

Cons
  • Some quality control issues

  • May not run true to size

Doc Miller’s Calf Compressions Sleeves are classic compression sleeves designed to deliver above-average compression. Fixed with 30 to 40 millimeters of mercury of graduated compression, the tightness may feel a bit intense for first-time compression sleeve wearers.

The sleeves are crafted from a durable-yet-stretchy blend of nylon and spandex that will hold up over time. Despite the intense compression and non-binding cuffs, the sleeves are crafted to be both lightweight and breathable.

Quantity: Two sleeves | Sizes: M-XL | Material: Nylon, spandex | Compression: 30 to 40 millimeters of mercury

Best Plus-Size: TOFLY Calf Compression Sleeve

TOFLY Calf Compression Sleeve
Pros
  • Inclusive size range

  • Seamless construction

  • Non-slip design

  • Multiple colors

Cons
  • May run small

  • Hard to slip into and out of

The TOFLY Calf Compression Sleeves are available in an array of sizes, ranging from S to 5XL. And since the sleeves are also sold in six different colors, it shouldn’t be hard to find a pair that suits your needs and your style preferences.

The nylon-spandex blend should be breathable and stretchy, and thanks to their non-slip design, they promise to stay firmly in place as you move around. Each sleeve offers 20 to 30 millimeters of mercury of graduated compression, and a seamless composition should eliminate any digging into your legs.

Quantity: Two sleeves | Sizes: S-5XL | Material: Nylon, spandex | Compression: 20 to 30 millimeters of mercury

Best for Running: Run Forever Sports Calf Compression Sleeves

Run Forever Calf Compression Sleeves
Pros
  • Mild compression

  • Non-slip cuffs

  • Multiple colors and patterns

Cons
  • Quality control issues

  • May not run true to size

Runners need compression sleeves that are tight enough to make a difference, but lightweight enough to comfortably wear while active. Run Forever’s Calf Compression Sleeves are crafted from a stretchy nylon-spandex blend, which will hold its shape over time while hitting both of these marks.

Unlike other sleeves, which offer between 20 to 30 millimeters of mercury of graduated compression, Run Forever’s sleeves max out at 25 millimeters of mercury. This makes them tight, but not terribly intense. And since they’re lined with non-slip cuffs, you can rest assured knowing you shouldn’t have to readjust your sleeves every few steps of your run.

Quantity: Two sleeves | Sizes: S-XL | Material: Nylon, spandex | Compression: 20 to 25 millimeters of mercury

Best for Shin Splints: DonJoy Performance Anaform Shin Splint Sleeve

DonJoy Anaform Shin Splint Sleeve
Pros
  • Lined with supportive padding

  • Mild compression

  • Breathable

  • Reinforced pull tabs

Cons
  • One-size-fits-all

  • Best for light activity

If you deal with shin splints, you may need more support than a traditional compression sleeve can provide. DonJoy’s Performance Anaform Shin Splint Sleeve has a series of foam buttresses. This sturdy padding offers support and relieves pressure in equal measure—making it a great option for those with shin splints.

The sleeve itself is crafted from breathable neoprene and it comes with stretchy webbing that makes it a one-size-fits-all option. The sleeve also comes equipped with reinforced pull tabs, which you can use to slide it on and off your leg. And it boasts a few reflective details, designed to enhance your visibility in lower-light conditions.

Quantity: One sleeve | Sizes: One-size-fits-all | Material: Neoprene | Compression: Not provided

Best for Injury: Vive Calf Brace

Vive Calf Brace
Pros
  • Compression sleeve and a wraparound brace in one

  • Adjustable fit

  • Breathable

Cons
  • No compression amount listed

  • Not as stiff as some other braces

Vive’s Calf Brace offers the compression you’d expect from a compression sleeve matched with the adjustable support you can get from a wraparound brace. This makes it great for anyone recovering from an injury. With three straps, the sleeve can be customized to suit your compression preferences up and down your calf.

Crafted from breathable neoprene, it will keep you cool and comfortable every time you wear it. And thanks to its non-slip design, the brace promises to stay firmly in place when you exercise.

Quantity: One sleeve | Sizes: One-size-fits-all | Material: Neoprene | Compression: Not specified

Final Verdict

McDavid’s Calf Compression Sleeve (view at Amazon) is durable, comfortable, and supportive. The heavy-duty nylon sleeve holds its shape over time, and thanks to its flat-seam design, it should stay comfortably in place with no pinching, no bunching, and no slipping.

Delivering 12.6 to 21 millimeters of mercury of graduated compression, it's milder than some options, which makes it a good sleeve to start with if you've never worn one before.

What to Look for in Calf Compression Sleeves

Quantity

Compression sleeves can be sold individually, in pairs, or (occasionally) in multipacks. So before checking out, it’s useful to confirm how many you’re buying. This is particularly important if you’re a price-sensitive shopper or if you regularly wear them and don't want to have to launder them often.

Size

In order for a compression sleeve to be useful, it needs to fit you properly. “Too tight of a compression sleeve can be uncomfortable,” Dr. Trentacosta says, adding that overly tight compression can restrict blood flow and cause your legs to swell. “Too loose would not necessarily be detrimental—it just would not provide many benefits and potentially slide down your leg.” 

Many compression sleeve brands offer size charts you can use to determine which sleeve size is right for you. Simply measure the circumference of the largest part of your calf, and compare it to the size chart.

Material

Many calf compression sleeves are made from a blend of nylon and spandex, but some are crafted from other materials, like cotton, neoprene, or bamboo. Nylon will feel sturdy and stretchy, spandex will feel stretchy, cotton will feel soft and breathable, neoprene will feel smooth and breathable, and bamboo will feel soft.

Compression

Most compression sleeves are tight and stretchy, but some deliver more compression than others. To determine how tight and compressive a sleeve will feel, look for millimeters of mercury (mmHg) measurement. The higher the number, the greater the compression. For context, most sleeves will deliver between 20 to 30 millimeters of mercury of compression, but some will deliver less and others more.

It’s also worth noting that most of this compression will be “graduated.” This means there will be more compression at the bottom of the sleeve and less at the top of the sleeve. Or, to frame it in other terms, the sleeve will feel tighter at your ankle than it does at the top of your calf.

Special Features

Many compression sleeves come equipped with special features—like cooling technology, antimicrobial fabric, additional padding, adjustable support, and more. Many of these features are nice-to-haves, but some of them—like additional padding and adjustable support—can make a compression sleeve more brace-like, which is great for those craving more support.

FAQs

How long can you wear calf compression sleeves?

“Compression sleeves can be worn during all sorts of exercise and even on a daily basis,” Dr. Jena Gatses, D.P.T., physical therapist, says. She notes that you might want to wear a compression sleeve while traveling, commuting, or working (especially if your job keeps you on your feet). And you might also want to wear one before, during, and after exercise.

“Theoretically, you can keep a sleeve on all day if you wish,” Dr. Trentacosta says. “But having a very tight compression sleeve on your arm or calf can feel uncomfortable and restrict blood flow over time.” So pay attention to how you feel in the sleeve, and take it off if you start feeling uncomfortable.

Can I sleep with calf compression sleeves?

According to Dr. Trentacosta, sleeping in a calf compression sleeve isn't a good idea because it can restrict blood flow—causing your calf to become uncomfortable, swollen, and possibly numb. It’s important to be awake while wearing a calf compression sleeve so you can monitor your comfort level. Additionally, she says, your compression sleeve may become bunched up as you sleep. And this could also cause discomfort or pain.

How do calf compression sleeves work?

Calf compression sleeves apply pressure to your calves. “Ideally, the compression from [the sleeve] is meant to increase blood flow,” Dr. Trentacosta says. This increased blood flow is said to do a few things: improve performance (supported by some studies, not supported by others), promote recovery (generally supported by studies), and boost blood oxygen levels (generally supported by studies).

How tight should calf compression sleeves be?

“It’s very important to find a sleeve that fits your calf properly,” Dr. Gatses says. “A sleeve that fits right shouldn’t be too hard to put on or take off after your workout.” If a compression sleeve is hard to put on or take off—or if it makes you uncomfortable while wearing it—it may be too tight. If a compression sleeve regularly slips down your leg, it’s probably too loose. 

Are calf compression sleeves good for varicose veins?

Many people turn to calf compression sleeves to treat varicose veins. But the truth is, there’s not enough evidence to determine whether or not they actually effectively do so.

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

Verywell Fit writer Lindsey Lanquist has years of experience in the health and fitness space. For this shopping guide, she prioritized calf compression sleeves that were genuinely well reviewed by those who’d tried them. She also favored sleeves that were available in a range of different sizes and colors. And she also made sure to include options with a few special features—like additional padding, cooling technology, and adjustable wraparound support.

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6 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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