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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.

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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. Competitor.com 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!

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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.

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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?