Compressport R2 3.0 compression sleves: comfort at a good pricetag
Andy: Like Silke, I have tried compression in many guises in the past from tights to socks and a couple of pairs of sleeves. I must agree that the material is super comfortable and feels excellent on the legs when compared to other compression products which I have used. Soft, smooth and offering a good level of compression. I also found them to be easy to get on, taking them off after a hard run when sweaty is another matter!
Again, and this seems to be a theme with the reviewers so far, I managed to put them on backwards the first time I wore them.
Once I checked the pictures, I had them turned around and was good to go. Using them to test the impact as Compressport recommends with one leg on and one leg off, the main difference that I noticed during the run was being very aware of having one covered leg and one calf muscle flapping in the breeze.
The difference in temperature was very apparent but not unpleasantly so. MY covered leg was noticeably warmer than the uncovered leg even on a very cool morning.
Post-run, my right calf did actually feel better than the uncovered left. Whether this was physical or psychological, I have no way of measuring but, unlike Silke, I did actually feel a difference.
I have worn them on a handful of runs and do enjoy the feel of them especially as my gait cycle emphasises work through my calf muscles. I have also used them for post run compression and I have found that this has also really helped when calves have been sore.
With recovery being key to improvement and maintaining consistency, the Compressport calf sleeves offer an affordable and easily portable method of maintaining muscles through long mileage weeks.
How do these calf sleeves compare against others?
Silke: I own several pairs of compression socks by other brands, but this is my first pair of calf sleeves. The R2 3.0 calf sleeves are not like these strong compression socks that should help with recovery by getting your blood flow faster back to your heart. They shall help reduce muscle vibration while you are running.
I was so excited about them that, when I put them on for the first time I did it the wrong way. But Compressport helps with that because they give an instruction how to do it! And they are easier to put on than I thought. Not like those dense medical ones. Once you get them on the feeling is very light on the skin and for hotter temperatures and races Compressport even offers a lighter version. I tested the R2 3.0 calf sleeves on shorter speed workouts, on a longer trail run with about 900m of elevation and on a Sunday long run.
When I took them off after my long run I noticed marks on different parts of my lower legs. For example those “fibular stripes” on the left and right side of my shinbone that shall improve ankle balance and stability. I really like the feeling and amount of support on my achilles tendon where they put so-called proprioceptive stripes for added support and reduced inflammation.
I have to admit that I could not make out a noticeable difference after my test runs wearing the calf sleeve on only one side. But the feeling while running with them is so good that I need to wear them for every harder workout or long run. And I have to say, I also love them because the persian red colorway looks amazing.
Do the Compressport R2 3.0 sleeves make a difference in A/B testing?
Alex : Just a few hours before writing this review, Tim reminded me that I wore calf compression sleeves for a marathon we ran together in Düsseldorf in 2019. And interestingly I stopped wearing them after that. The reason for that was mostly because my legs were too hot with them and I don’t really like that sensation of not having any airflow right on my skin. Interestingly enough though, I did not stop wearing recovery compression socks because I truly believe that they have benefits (and it’s been actually proven). So when Compressport reached out about the R2 3.0 calf compression sleeves, I got intrigued and wondered how much better my experience would be this time around.
The first important step when picking your sleeves is measuring properly your calf circumference. That will indicate which of the four sizes if the most appropriate for you. The discrepancy between my two calves was significant and I should have gone with two different sizes for each. I went with the smaller size 2 which works very well for both calves. I am not sure that this is what Compressport would recommend but based on this, if you’re between two sizes go with the smaller one.
Putting the sleeves on is very easy as long as you follow the instructions that are pictured inside the box. Just make sure you pay close attention to the right/left indications. Because in my mind the sleeves need to be against the skin to produce all their benefits, I put them on first and then I put some Compressport socks on top. I am pretty sure that both methods are valid and aesthetically putting the sleeves on top of your calves (so not my way) is probably prettier.
What about the benefits? The first time I used the new R2 3.0 calf compression sleeves, it was for a 53km trail event that I ran mostly to have fun. The sleeves felt good and kept my legs warmer at the top of the main climb where temperatures were almost freezing. The main benefit I noticed was the increased feeling of stability around my ankle. I don’t necessarily have weak ankles but in trail running, which they’re not used to, that an area of attention for me. Other than the stability, I didn’t experience any calf cramping or pain during the run. And my legs felt surprisingly fresh the day after. Only my glutes were sore, but my calves felt really good.
I then went on to use the sleeves in a specific « testing » way for a track session. This testing protocol was suggested to us by Compressport. You only put one sleeve on and leave the other calf « sleeveless ». I must admit that it felt more awkward than anything else and I couldn’t notice much of a difference in muscle fatigue the day after.
One area of claimed benefits that is really interesting for many runners (I believe), is the link between calf compression and gut function. What Compressport (and a study) claims is that thanks to the improved micro-circulation in your lower legs, the blood flow is improved towards your stomach and gut which supposedly reduces the risk of unpleasant issues (which are due to the lack of blood flow to that area in the first place).
So you may ask whether I’m convinced by the R2 3.0 sleeves or not? Let me put things that way: I didn’t experience a ton of benefits. But I also didn’t test them extensively enough. I am however convinced that the product is really high end and that for the €40 price tag, you get a good product for your money. I also discovered how serious Compressport is about testing their products and backing their claims with actual science. And if there’s one thing that can convince me, it’s precisely that. So if science says it’s good, you’ll likely see me wear them. Probably not for each and every run because I’m still not a fan of feeling too much « heat » on my legs. But I’ll probably take them out for those tougher sessions and especially if I need to log more miles that day or the days after.
How do the Compressport R2 3.0 feel for experienced compression users?
Tim: I started running in 2015 and bought my first calf compression sleeves one year after. The 2 pairs I bought before testing the new Compressport R2 3.0 came also from Compressport (R2 V2 and R2 Oxygen). I would therefore say that I know pretty well the brand’s calf compression sleeves as I’ve been using them for 6 years. On the other hand, I cannot compare them with other brands as it is the only one I ever tested.
I had always used my sleeves the same way, only for race day. Like a favorite shirt or singlet, this item was dedicated to race time. But don’t get me wrong, here it was not only about “belief” or placebo effect. I truly have the feeling that with them my calves get tired later and I can therefore push more. I always preferred to train hard and use this “advantage” only on race day. As a consequence I made some exception to my framework to test the R2 3.0 and decided to use them for day to day sessions. I tested them during easy sessions, endurance sessions (long) as well as interval sessions and for one specific interval session I even tried with one leg on and one without like Alex.
I will not describe to you the protocol to put on the sleeves as it’s done above but I can guarantee that it is simple (easier than the R2 V2). Once on your calves you will feel the compression and I personally like it. Nevertheless I could imagine that it doesn’t suit everybody and on that point I would only say that as the session goes through, your body will adapt to it and you will feel them less at the end than at the beginning. For those who know about the V2s or Oxygen sleeves, I would add that the compression feeling here is in between the R2 V2 and R2 Oxygen. From a breathability point of view, they are closer to the Oxygen version which is more breathable than the V2 and I don’t have any issue with the heat they bring even during summertime. Nevertheless, they also could be used for heating needs during winter when a short is not sufficient and a tight too much.
My feelings about their use during my training depends on the session. For easy or endurance sessions I don’t really feel a difference with or without them. Note that for those sessions my calves are usually not an issue and it’s very rare that they feel tired during the session. For interval sessions, I have the feeling that the soreness of the calf is lower and appears later with the sleeves. It is exactly the feeling I have when I use them for racing. My session with one sleeve only was amazing on this point as I clearly have the feeling of running with 2 legs not at the same level. I’m also totally aware that the placebo effect can play a role on my feelings, but as long as it works I have no issue with that.
From a recovery perspective, I have not been able to clearly notify an improvement. Even with the session with only one sleeve the legs feel very similar the day after. This being said, let’s now see what scientific studies show. None of them seems to conclude on an improvement of Vo2max but on some other topics they tend to improve things like reduction of tissue inflammation or improvement of digestion (see links below).
As a conclusion, based on my personal experiences but also the scientific studies, I will continue to use them for race day. I would maybe even think to use them more on training when I have a very tough week and I want to preserve myself a little bit. Would I recommend the 3.0 compared to the 2 others ? I would answer that the 3.0 is my favourite but the R2 V2 are very close and if you’re running out of budget, V2 will be sufficient enough.
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