The 7 Best Calf Compression Sleeves to Buy in 2018

Relieve pain and aid recovery with these supportive accessories

A calf compression sleeve is a tight fabric tube that’s worn on the lower part of your leg to provide pressure and support. Whether you’re an avid runner or just starting a couch-to-5K program, calf compression sleeves can greatly improve your performance and stamina. If you’ve had a lower leg injury, they provide the stability and reinforcement you need to get back on the track safely. On top of support, they can increase your circulation, shorten recovery time by loosening the muscles and provide temperature control whether you’re running indoors or outside.

Like all compression products, calf compression sleeves come in a variety of strengths, ranging from light to RX-level. Most runners use something in the middle of the spectrum, between 10-40 mmHg compression. Here, we run through some of the best calf compression sleeves you can buy, no matter your needs.

Best Overall: CEP Progressive+ Compression Calf Sleeves

The CEP Progressive+ Compression Calf Sleeves are our pick for the best overall sleeves because they have everything you want in a compression product at a great price. They have 20-30 mmHg compression that’s graduated and consistent, helping to reduce micro-traumas in your legs as you practice. Both the women’s and men’s versions come in three sizes, so you can get an optimal fit. They’re made from 79 percent polyamide (a strong, polyester-like fabric) and 21 percent spandex, and sold in a variety of colors. The top-band hits right below the knee and helps to keep the sleeve in place as you run, while the ribbing design on the front helps to reduce skin temperature in hot weather.

Owners rave about the CEP Progressive+ Compression Calf Sleeves, saying that they help existing shin splints and strains while preventing future ones. They do note that the sizing can run small, so be sure to measure your calves before you order. If you’re looking for a wonderful sleeve that will help you mile after mile, you can’t go wrong with the CEP sleeves.

Best High End: Enerskin E70 Unisex Compression Calf Sleeve Set

The Enerskin E70 Unisex Compression Calf Sleeve Set is a little pricier than our overall best pick, but avid runners or those with injuries who require a little more support will find they’re well worth the money. Made from the company’s own “Gastex” fabric a blend of 75 percent polyester and rayon, 25 percent Lycra and silicone taping, the Enerskin offers a tight compression from knee to ankle. The silicone taping helps to reduce injuries, add shock absorption and fight shin splints. After you run with them, you can even turn them inside-out for active recovery to reduce inflammation and ease muscles. They come in six different sizes (all unisex), and the company does warn that the fabric can cause dryness, so they suggest using lotion before you use.

Amazon reviewers say they’re great for intense marathon runners or those who suffer from painful shin splints. One even calls the Enerskin E70 Unisex Compression Calf Sleeves the “best running investment” you can make.

Best Budget: Run Forever Sports Calf Compression Sleeve

Don’t let the low price of these Run Forever Sports Calf Compression Sleeves fool you—these powerful little sleeves get the job done. They have a graduated compression strength of 20-25 mmHg and come in sizes from small through x-large. The breathable, stretchy material is strong enough to compress and hold, but thin enough to breathe throughout your run. They’re available in black, white, blue, purple, and pink, and have a wide band under the knee to keep them in place.

With over 2,000 positive reviews on Amazon, it’s no surprise the Run Forever Sleeves are so popular. The company also offers a lifetime refund policy if for any reason you don’t like them or need a replacement. Owners love the fabric, saying it works while maintaining a slim profile. Reviewers also boast that they help reduce visible varicose veins, lower nerve pain—and, of course, keep you on the track longer. If you’re looking for a great pair of calf sleeves for less money, go with this one from Run Forever.

Best Design Options: Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves

If you’ve been running for a while, you’ve probably heard of Zensah Compression Sleeves. While they are great at reducing leg cramps and shin splints, we love them because of their fun and colorful designs. Whether you want to make a statement during your next marathon or add a fun pop of color to help motivate you on those early morning runs, the Zensah sleeves offer an instant dose of personality. From ice cream cones to the Statue of Liberty, there’s a look for everyone. Made from 90 percent nylon and 10 percent Spandex, these sleeves are supportive and moisture-wicking to keep you comfortable throughout your run. The V-shaped ribbing on the front of the sleeve works similarly to kinesiology tape, providing stability and support.

Amazon reviewers say these sleeves are snug enough to work well, but comfortable enough to keep on all day (nurses or anyone who works on their feet will love them). They come in three sizes, so be sure to measure your calves for a perfect fit.

Best Breathable: 2XU Compression Calf Guards

The 2XU Compression Calf Guards are slightly different from sleeves​ but work in a similar manner. These guards are meant to be worn during a workout (not after) and support the leg in the same way as many of our other choices. There are seven size options available, so you can fit it exactly to your own calf. The 2XU are very thin, made primarily with Lycra, and extremely breathable. Instead of thick bands, there are flatlock seams on the top and bottom to reduce chafing and increase airflow. They are also antibacterial and work to wick sweat during long runs.

Reviewers say they are much less smelly and easier to keep clean than its competitors. Because the fabric is very breathable, you can hand-wash them every few uses without building up bacteria.

Best Ankle and Calf Sleeves: Zensah Compression Ankle/Calf Sleeves

Anyone suffering from ankle or plantar fasciitis pain knows just how important the feet are. The Zensah Compression Ankle & Calf Sleeves reach all the way to midfoot, offering support past the calves. These anti-odor sleeves come in small and medium sizes and provide everything our other calf sleeves do, but with extra support targeted on the ankle. For anyone suffering from foot pain, they feature a foldable cuff for extra compression.

Owners say they’re great at reducing pain through the calf into the foot, especially plantar fasciitis pain. They do note that they run slightly small, so we recommend sizing up for the best fit.

Best Extra Firm: Doc Miller Premium Open Toe Compression Socks

Whether you’ve tried compression sleeves and found them too light, or your doctor has recommended a firm sleeve, the Doc Miller Premium Open Toe Compression Socks are a great choice. Made from 77 percent nylon and 23 percent Spandex, they provide 30-40 mmHg compression, which can aid in injury recovery. Anyone who suffers from spider veins, edema, swelling, or other calf issues could benefit from these Doc Miller socks. They’re available in five sizes and 12 colors, so you can find a pair that fits just right and matches your style. The thin material is incredibly breathable and helps fight odors, so you can wear these socks all day long.

We recommend only trying an extra heavy compression if your doctor has recommended it, as most people are fine with a lower-strength product. That said, reviewers use them for everything from varicose veins to knee replacement recovery and say they’re nearly as good as prescription-strength (for less money).

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