Recovery 101 & McDavid Compression Review


Thursday: 12m long, easy 8:48/pace 

I get questions, funny looks and jokes made about my compression socks and tights and I even know a few runners who know nothing about compression.  Sometimes I forget the normal person isn’t reading running blogs or stalking following elite runners all the live long day and so yeah, compression can be a foreign concept.

2014-03-27 23.02.35

me and my Pro’s (compression socks)

Running is high impact sport (duh!). During marathon training there’s obviously a ton of impact happening. Legs go through wear and tear, muscle soreness, and muscle tightness. The name of the game when running high mileage is recovery. If you recover properly you can run 5-6 days a week without getting injured, walking around on sore legs constantly or being exhausted every day. Let’s start with the basics of injury prevention & recovery with a little bit of RICE, which is a bit more familiar to everyone.

Rest: I get about 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Crazy for some, i know, but if I don’t get at least 7, i’m a monster and will need a nap anyway. Speaking of naps, i take those when needed as well. Resting gives your body time to repair damaged muscle tissue and restore glycogen (energy stores). This is why i take 1-2 days completely off from running each week! It is VERY important to take a full rest day to stay healthy and uninjured.

Ice: Using ice on sore body parts helps fight inflammation. Another thing that will help are the foods you eat. You can eat anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits (especially berries), vegetables (tomatoes, greens) and diets high in omega-3 fatty acids (think fish). I like to try using ice and food intake before I take actual NSAIDS (aspirin, ibuprofen etc) for pain/inflammation.

Compression: The man of the hour, the main squeeze—sorry i can’t help myself! Alright, alright. The idea behind compression is to increase blood flow to repair damaged muscles while eliminating metabolic waste. Which basically means faster muscle recovery. (Foam rolling is also a type of compression!)

Elevation: I don’t have a lot of personal experience using elevation. Except for one day i was locked out of the apartment and put my feet up a wall for 30 minutes. I thought it helped with recovery and I should experiment with this a little more. says “elevation provides relief comparable to compression.” I guess the only downside is that you’re stuck in one place for a while. But i guess you’re stuck in one place with rest, ice and foam rolling.. looks like compression gear is the only stuff you can move around in eh??

I’ve had such good results with compression socks, it got me thinking about the rest of my leg. What about the quads & hammies?? Those are places I’m often sore, especially after hill and speed work. The idea of full leg compression really stood out to me and it kinda fell into my lap that McDavid Compression was at the Rock N’ Roll Expo a few weeks ago. They were one of the few brands I found that carried full leg compression tights!


We geeked out for an embarrassingly long time on running and compression. I felt like I made a few friends that day. They generously gave me a pair of women’s compression tights to try out and report on.

First, I loved the design. They are subtle with color and design yet still unique enough to grab attention. I get compliments on them all the time! Where the hexagon pattern sits (shins, inner thigh & knees) the compression is a little less intense, which is awesome because i can move freely in them.


horizontal stripes are just sunlight coming through the blinds!

I wore them before the USA 1/2 marathon and immediately after I got home that day. This are skintight, yet easy to get on and slid right under my jeans when we headed out for post race lunch & drinks.

shhh, i'm secretly compressing!

shhh, i’m secretly compressing!

The BIGGEST notable difference from this race to others: I could walk up and down the stairs normally. <–If you run marathons you know what a BIG deal this is. No crawling or sideways walking for me!!  I’m attributing that directly to the full leg compressing because after races, especially hilly races my quads are normally TRASHED. McDavid tights worked a small miracle that day.

The one and only thing I don’t like about the tights—they are opaque. You can hold them up to the light and see right through. So if I leave the house, i need to throw on a pair of shorts over. It’s funny because the one thing I don’t like directly influences the thing I love, which is their breathability. I was afraid these would be too warm to wear while working or working out, but they breath really nice and I never felt too warm, even with a pair of jeans or shorts over.

Nike Pro shorties covering the booty

Nike Pro shorties covering the booty

Other than the opaque quality, these are pretty cool and seem to do their job for recovery. I’ve wanted to try full leg compression for a while now and this just gets me more and more excited to run high mileage and keep experimenting with compression. McDavid even has full upper body compression shirts & shorts! If you Crossfit, swim, or do any other heavier upper body workouts this might be a neat item to try.

What are you best tips or methods for recovering & staying healthy?

Use compression? What kind?


Author: She's Going the Distance


20 thoughts on “Recovery 101 & McDavid Compression Review

  1. haha, i’m secretly compressing! i use compression too – usually CEP or CW-X… do you ever wear it for workouts or racing?

  2. I should look into these! I have 2XU tights from triathlon a few years back and they are harder to get on than a wetsuit. And definitely a no-go wearing under other clothes, they get really hot. I do love the full lower body compression though! Especially when you have to take a long road trip home the day after a race.

  3. Great post about compression and recovery. I use compression socks and sleeves but not tights. After my last half I wished I had some because my thighs were a bit stiff and sore.

  4. I like the full compression tights – for some reason they scream “superhero tights” to me! Thanks for the reminder about icing! I rest and compress but need to remember to ice after long runs.

  5. RICE is my life right now. Ice has seriously become by best friend over the past month and will likely continue to be until I can get this thing totally knocked out. I wear compression socks and sleeves, but I would love a pair of legit compression tights. (I have some relatively compress-y running gear, but nothing quite to that extent.)

  6. I wear compression socks all the time, and I have a few pairs of tights but none that I really love. I usually ice anything thats sore after I run. I think I have done the elevation thing once but typically I don’t remember to do it and I don’t think I could sit still for that long:)

  7. I love the part about most of the readers not being crazy runner types :). We so often forget!!! I swear by my compression socks, but haven’t liked my compression tights quite as much … honestly, I think it’s because I got the super cheap-o ones from Amazon. Sometimes you get what you pay for!

    • I completely understand. I still love my socks over the tights but I love the tights I just don’t want to run in them. I’m so picky haha I think for actual running I’d like to try a pair of compression shorts or something

  8. I’m right with Megan about so much of this being unfamiliar (at best) to ‘normal’ people – and even more so because I’m in my late 40s and so even people who were athletes in high school and college when I was that age (and NOT an athlete) know very little about it.

    I got my first tights just over a year ago and absolutely love them … and my first compression socks this past Christmas, and I wear them all the time.

    As for translucency on tights … AAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH! I was heading into the market yesterday and two young women with their mom were ahead of me … and thankfully they were wearing underwear … but unfortunately I could TELL they were … so not cool, totally grossed me out.

    • ewww. yeah it’s the first thing i do when looking for running tights/capris/leggings. You hold them up to the light, if light shines through PUT THEM DOWN. And to go a step further you can do the Lululemon test and try them on and bend over in front of the mirror. haha

      what brand tights do you have??

  9. I’ve been skeptical about compression socks for a while (esp. because they are so expensive), but I finally tried them and I’m 100% on the bandwagon now! They just feeeeel so good after a long run!

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