Running With Zensah: A Little Farther, Faster, Longer

A few years ago it seemed that compression items were a fad for the pros. Let’s be honest – when we first started seeing men and women go to lunch in very tight tights with running shorts over them, we raised an eyebrow or two.  Now, almost a decade later, one of the first compression companies, Zensah compression technology is still around and booming. So much for that “fad”.

Zensah Compression Socks

Zensah is a Miami-based company that was started when an original founder, currently working in the technology business, came across a seamless machine. His first project was seamless shirts for the Miami Heat. From there the line has taken off to include a full range of socks, shorts, pants, and tops. The company name actually comes from the Italian word “senza” meaning to be “without”. The mantra of the company is that athletes should be without limits. Fitting, since Zensah products are meant to be worn comfortably for long periods of time.

These compression socks have soft seamless proprietary fabric that allows you to wear them for extended stretches. No more itchy elastic and fibrous seams. Other calf compression brands I have tried only have a wear time of about 24 hours before a deep itch starts to set in that lasts even after the sleeves are off. With wearable longevity comes enhanced performance. Zensah‘s fabric technology incorporates graduated compression from toe to knee, which doesn‘t squeeze your whole calf, but rather aids in the flow of oxygen and circulation of blood throughout the lower legs. In fact, my feet felt like they were working together with my calves and actually protecting my shins with the graduated and pin-point compression. These features are important in performance as well as recovery, and allow you to ultimately go farther, faster, and with less recovery time in your training.

Something that really sets Zensah apart from other compression companies is their attention to detail in the foot of the sock. They have added arch support that is formed through the fibers of the fabric. This support is actually quite noticeable. My first run in the socks was quite the evolution of feelings towards them. For the first mile I really didn‘t think much of what was on my feet. The next 3 miles I started feeling almost an ache in the arch of my feet and really began to think I should have worn the socks around before embarking on a 24 mile run (Disclaimer: I have extremely sensitive feet to begin with). However, by mile 5 or so the extra tight feeling had subsided and comfort had sunken in. My feet felt more supported than they ever have in other running socks or even with corrective inserts. Additionally, Zensah has added a little extra weight to the fabric of the toe box and heal up through the Achilles areas. Admittedly this made me wary at first since my feet are to prone to blisters and hot spots. However, throughout their debut run it became a blessing. This particular run took me through mud, snow, hard pack trail, and cement. I finished the run with zero blisters, and the pad of my forefoot didn‘t ache as it often does during/after long runs.

Through testing the compression socks I came across a few attributes I was surprised by. The first is the silver ions in the fabric that fight bacteria. Usually, I‘m quite the laundry freak and won‘t wear the same shirt, shorts, and socks more than once before throwing them in the wash. Zensah socks changed my ways! I found I could take them on the trails 3-4 times before I felt like a wash was due. They were dirtier from the trails than smelly; I must admit I was impressed. Something else that caught me by surprise was the color. When I opened the box to explore my sample Zensah compression socks, I was a little shocked to find they were neon yellow. Coming from a person who likes fairly neutral colors, they seemed a bit loud. Nonetheless, my mind was changed after realizing the brightness was a functional safety feature!

All in all the Zensah compression socks grew on me over the course of my training. I‘ve found them comfortable to travel, sleep, work, and workout in. Apparently, you can even swim with them on! They take a little bit to break in and get used to, but in the end they are totally worth it. I have no doubt that training in Zensah‘s played a part in helping me finish my first Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim run with only a few months of training. They became the glue that held me together… to the point where I didn‘t want to take them off for worry it was them that was keeping the pain at bay.

A big thanks to Zensah for providing me with the sample socks to write this review.

– Carley

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