For those of you who have ventured over to the dark side of compression clothing, could you share your thoughts on it? I'm not looking to train/race in it (have you seen how long it takes me just to get into a wetsuit?!? And my race pics are bad enough as is!), but I am curious about whether or not it helps with recovery.
i've used some 2xu compression calf sleeves on longer runs/rides, and have noticed they work quite well keeping my legs fresh for a longer period of time. I've only raced w/ them once, but it was no problem wearing them under my wetsuit. I've heard the zensah sleeves are a little thicker/more durable, but have not tried them yet. I would imagine they would help improve recovery as well, but have not worn them outside of training. good luck.
The zensah leg sleeves definitely feel good after a long run, and I have got into the habit of wearing them pretty much straight afterwards to recover. The 2XU compression tights seem to make my legs fresher after long rides. I have not raced in the leg sleeves yet, but may do so after a training partner did a 9:12 wearing them in Malaysia. They may not look great, but then nor do I after 140.6 miles.
I have been using socks and tights for recovery but have not really tried them training. I am grouping them with aero helemts. They may help but you look like.... well we all know how they look.
Although after 10+ hours flying with them last weekend I felt awesome and then this weekend without wearing them on a 10+ hour flight I noticed some swelling in my feet. So there may just be something too them.
I wear the zoot recovery tights. I wear them after all of my long run/bike workouts. I'm not sure if they make me feel better because they make me feel better or the fact that I'm getting into better shape so I feel better. The bottom line is that I do feel better after wearing them. There was a thread similar to this on beginnertriathlete.com where some folks swear by them.
They are kind of expensive but the fact that I feel better (perceived or otherwise) makes them worth it for me. Any mental edge that I can get to feeling better to help me with my IM training is worth it to me.
I've never used them for recovery or training and didn't know they were a big thing for athletes. Hmmm, maybe I should try them now, though my leg swelling has entirely different causes at this point.
I recently was interested in this, so looked into it. The easiest thing is to look at Joe Friel's blog. Friel has written about compression socks twice, once in 2007 here http://www2.trainingbible.com/joesblog/2007/10/can-your-socks-make-you-faster.html and again recently here: http://www.trainingbible.com/joesblog/2009_03_01_archive.html (for the last link, scroll all the way down to the last post dated March 1]. The most recent post reviewed two studies; one found no difference in performance but a reduction in Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), and the other found a neglible increase in performance on a maximal output test in a very small number of subjects. Friel concludes that the data aren't there yet to support wearing them for performance or recovery, and I agree with him. Most sports physiology studies are not well controlled, have too few subjects, don't simulate real race conditions (for instance a maximal output test is of somewhat limited value in understanding long endurance events), and have other issues. Just as a point of reference, the best studies are the altitude studies done in the late 1990's (of "live high-train low" fame - why you see people sleeping in altitude tents or the like), and few studies reach that level.
Nonetheless, there are also no data to support massage, TENS (the electric stim you get from your physical therapist), and a whole host of other recovery techniques that many athletes (including me swear by). If it works for you... But like Joe said, not in the category of very helpful, like a good bike fit, or in this case, proper post-workout nutrition. You can help avoid delayed onset muscle soreness by getting your recovery meal (mostly carbs/some protein, chocolate milk is great) within 30 minutes of finishing your workout, and some even say 15 minutes.
As for Amy's swelling - it's a great reason!!!
I picked up compression socks for recovery 2 months ago and have seen a substantial decrease (almost total) in lower leg soreness after long runs and rides. I only wear them after long or intense workouts but they were well worth the $30. I got mine from recoverysocks.com.