January 16, 2012

CEP Compression Socks

I purchased these CEP compression socks from our local running store, Trak Shak. No one is paying me to say anything about them, and they definitely weren't free. One pair of women's black compression socks was $58. I ordered a white pair of CEP compression socks from Amazon for $38, but they didn't arrive on time for my race. The black pair was a last-minute marathon purchase, which I made because I felt like they could really help my legs stay more fresh through the long miles.

I am 5'2", and I wear a size 3 in CEP socks, according to the calf measurement chart. I wear a size 7 shoe (7.5 in running shoes for extra toe room). The calf fit of these socks is perfect, and they don't dig into the skin at the top of the sock. Getting them on can be a challenge. The instructions say to turn them inside out to start rolling them on from your big toe up. I prefer to scrunch the sock tight and pull it over my foot all at once, then gradually roll up the rest of the sock.


From the CEP socks site

Give yourself an edge with CEP Running Progressive Compression Sports Socks featuring 18-25mmHg compression. All the same great features as the original CEP Running Sports Socks, but with a sleek new design. 
CEP Running Sportsocks maximize muscle oxygenation and boost energy with CEP's unparalleled scientifically optimized ultimate compression technology for all-day benefits. You’ll run with less effort, increased speed, decreased recovery time, reduced fatigue and optimized performance. 
The days of wearing socks "solely" to protect feet from blistering are over. CEP compression sportsocks are the first truly functional compression sport socks with a patented pressure flow technology that provide a scientifically proven increase in blood circulation and a consequent increase in performance. In addition to blister prevention, CEP socks provide more oxygen, more energy, an improved metabolization of lactic acid, and faster recovery so you can return to training quicker than ever. 
Advantages & Features: 
Pre-exercise - muscle activation and reduction of injury risk
During Exercise - optimized performance and stabilization, reduced muscle strain
Post-Exercise - quicker and shorter recovery phase
Achilles heel support - additional support of the Achilles tendon protects and prevents irritable tendons.
Ventilation channels – create a pleasant foot climate.
Padded sole - special support of the foot sole prevents blisters.
Anatomically-shaped inline seams – CEP socks come with a left and right model and, as a result, adjust to the anatomy of the foot for a perfect fit thanks to medi’s three-dimensional manufacturing process.
CellTex ® Fiber finishing - a new refinement of thread (without chemical additives) facilitates the biological activation of skin cells and provides a comfortable, skin sympathetic and climate-regulating wear.
iPS® Integrated power system - a defined compression with scientifically patented pressure profile improves blood circulation and enhances performance.
Shin protection
Material - 85% Polyamid, 15% Elasthan


I really wish they had lived up to the above, but for me the pros of the socks definitely came with cons.

Pros:

  • The calf of the sock fits fantastic according to the size chart. 
  • My calves were less sore than other parts of my body after the marathon. 
  • The socks hug the middle/arch of my foot very well. 
  • They lessen my calf soreness when used for post-run recovery. 

Cons:

  • The toe and heel of the sock are too loose for my foot size and can't be worn during performances/races.
  • Expensive
  • Hard to put the sock on over your foot
  • They make your legs itch.
Socks come up to my kneecap, though I could stretch them taller.

Notice the bump of extra fabric beside my big toe.

The top doesn't pinch.


The socks fit perfect until they hit my toes. You can see the slight waves from extra fabric.

Socks are loose in my heel, similar to the toes.

Another view of the loose toe fabric. They fit the middle of my foot well but begin to get loose around the white line at the top of the foot. 

I wore these for the first time in a marathon. You can see in the pictures above, that for my foot size the toes are slightly baggy, which led to the extra fabric rubbing against my toenail and causing me to lose the right side, hallux (big toe) toenail. After this incident, this sock has become my go-to recovery sock. I love wearing it for recovery, but the bagginess of the toe makes them a non-competing sock for me. If you have larger feet, they may work for performance as well as recovery.

This particular pair of socks has been warn and washed about six times. They hold up well to washing. I wash them on a gentle cycle, in cold water, with Tide detergent, and with my other running gear. You can see some slight pilling on the heel. Other than the initial marathon, I usually wear these with no shoes when I am walking around the house, or I wear them to bed to assist recovery through the night. They have retained their fit through the washings and wearings. 

They claim to offer Achilles heel support, but mine are too loose in the heel to offer any type of support. Another claim is that the CellTex fiber finishing "facilitates the biological activation of skin cells and provides a comfortable, skin sympathetic and climate-regulating wear." I could wear these socks a lot longer if they didn't itch as much. They are also extremely hot. I have worn them during the winter months only, and they have been so hot that I woke up in the middle of the night to rip them off my foot. 

When I wear these after a long run, my calves feel less sore the next day. During my marathon, my calves were cramping from mile 15 to the finish, but they were relatively less sore than other parts of my body up to two days after the race. I credit the socks for helping my calves recover more quickly. 

For such a high price, I really wish that I could wear these socks during races. If I had known that the company offered a 30-day money back guarantee at the time, I would have contacted them. Because now I have two pairs of the same recovery sock (in white and black), and both pairs are too baggy around the toe to wear for competing. One pair would be plenty for a recovery-only sock.

Update: After being extremely bummed that I paid so much money for socks I couldn't use for racing, I decided to use the heck out of them for recovery. One day I put them on without looking at the L and R, and I accidentally put them on the wrong feet. On the opposite feet, the fabric around my big toe was a little tighter, which I guess is because they are designed to get smaller and fit more snugly around your little toe. The fabric was now bulkier around my littlest toe because of the switch, but I thought it was safer (meaning less chance of losing another toenail) to have a little extra fabric there. I decided to risk trying out this new method of wearing them in the IMS Arizona Marathon, and it worked! Still pretty janky that I can't just wear $58 socks the way they were meant to be worn, and hopefully wearing them on the wrong feet won't reverse my blood flow or anything else unnatural, like craving cucumbers. So if your CEP socks are too baggy around the toes, try switching them to the opposite feet.