Product Review – Zensah shin splint compression sleeve

Posted: January 28, 2010 in Product Review

I have received a lot of inquiries regarding the Zensah Shin Splint – Calf Compression sleeve I began using last week.  So many in fact that I felt a product review was in order.  To date I have used the sleeve for 4 training runs covering 21 miles and the Austin 3M Half Marathon last Sunday.  So far the performance of the Zensah compression sleeve and the added comfort it has provided has exceeded my initial expectations for the product.

To provide the necessary back-story for this review I really should start with my training injury suffered earlier this winter.  Until December I had never experienced any type of shin pain or shin splint issues since I began distance running and marathon training in 2005.  I am fortunate to have a very neutral strike, a solid running economy and do not put a lot of additional strain on my musculature as my body weight has remained very stable over the course of the last several years.

Affected Shin Splint Area

That said, shin issues much like IT Band issues are injuries that for most distance runners is not a matter of if you will experience them, it is simply a matter of when.  You hope that the timing is not terribly disruptive to your training for a big race and that you can resolve them quickly with a return to pain-free running as soon as possible.

My shin issues were directly related to a change in my training preparing for the Boston Marathon in April.  Ironically it was not a matter of increased mileage that caused the problem which is often the cause of shin splints in runners.  I monitored the weekly mileage component very closely by sticking to a proven training plan that had kept me injury free in the past.  In my case it was a direct result of a change to the terrain over which I was running not an increase in intensity or frequency.

At the time I believed that a change to my traditional training plan that would incorporate more hill work into my runs was a requirement in order to prepare for the treacherous Boston course.  The increased hill training had an adverse effect however and I suffered a strained calf muscle as a result.  My attempt to back-off slightly, but continue to train through the calf issue landed me on the shelf with full-blown cae of shin splints less than three weeks later.  Instead of building strength in the injured calf area my continued training was in fact doing the opposite.  My weakening calf muscle forced the smaller surrounding muslces in my lower leg to take on more of a load than they were designed to handle.

The transfer of energy from the largest muscle in my lower leg (the calf) placed far too much strain on the smaller muscle groups which typically serve as “shock absorbers” during your ground strike.  This added energy was then transferred directly to the sheath that surrounds the tibia – and whala” – shin splints.

After a trip to Austin Sports Medicine (Visit information here) an MRI (story here)  ice therapy, no-impact cross training (cycling) and a gradual return to running my shin injury had recovered to approximately 85-90%.  I was now able to run “close” to injury free – but I was still feeling some weakness during my runs and had some residual soreness after running or strength training.  Not having the luxury to wait much longer as Boston loomed approximately 16 weeks away – it was time to get on with training and start preparing in a serious way for the first of two marathons 13 days apart to deliver on my Run for Dom commitment

Zensah - Shin Splint Compression Sleeve

Race Conditions - Austin 3M Half Marathon

The warmth aspect is a key as properly warmed muscles are much more pliable and able to better absorb shock – which would address what I feel was the primary source of my discomfort.

The other feature of the sleeve that drew me to the Zensah product was the fact that the front of the sleeve is designed to prevent shin splints by incorporating a compression pattern (the chevron pattern or inverted ÒVÓ). This chevron ribbing along the front helps support the muscles in the shin area thereby reducing the pain associated with shin splints.  The deep groove ribbing also helps increase blood circulation which transfers oxygen to the muscles faster.

The back of the sleeve provides support of the calf and Achilles with pock and vertical lines that closely mimic the calf muscles.

The sizing information was very straightforward based on the height of the runner which made ordering online very straightforward:

S/M: Height 5 9″ and below. Calf Size 11.5″ – 14.5″

L/XL: Height 5 10″ and up. Calf Size 14.5″ and up

Performance –

Like other Zensah products I had read about online – the product is really well made.  The compression sleeve is constructed from high quality neoprene material and features a virtually “seamless” design to decrease any chance of discomfort or chafing during a long run.

From the first time I used the sleeve I noticed a significant difference in the support and “strength” I seemed to have in my lower right leg.  Instead of feeling like I had 100% strength in my left leg and 90% in my right – immediately I felt as if my legs were now equal from an overall strength perspective.

The true test for me however was how my leg would respond post-workout.  Again, I continue to ice the area after each run – but the results were very impressive.  Gone was that nagging soreness that seemed to come between 30 minutes and 1 hour after each of my training runs.

Under race conditions last weekend at the 3M half Marathon (race report here link) – I honestly had forgotten all about my shin issues until about mile 12 when I reflected on how strong I felt and the absence of any issues in my lower right leg.

I am not saying that without the proper diagnosis, rest, rehabilitation, ice therapy and physical therapy that the Zensah sleeve is a “magic product” that will resolve all of your shin issues.  But if you have followed a sound rehabilitation plan and have worked back to reasonable level of recovery – I think the Zensah sleeve may just be what you need to push you over the hump and get back to doing what we all love to do which is run and run pain-free.

If you have any questions about the product or any of the exercises my Doctor prescribed to help me move past this issue – please feel free to reach out to me and I will be happy to help.  The blessing that comes from being able to run injury free is one that I have a newfound respect for.  I am happy to help anyone suffering from this painful condition.

One final note as I have stated in previous blog postings – I by no means receive any incentives to provide positive product reviews on this site.  I simply pass along my own experiences with various products that I have found helpful.  Stop back tomorrow as I will be posting an update on Dom who has made some progress on his final round of chemotherapy treatments.  Go Dom!

  1. Kim says:

    Thanks for the helpful review. I have looked at these sleeves in the past for my calf issues. Now that I am ramping up in miles again for a marathon in May, I may have to give these a try.


    • joerunfordom says:

      Kim – you bet! Thanks for stopping back by. Best of luck, I hope you get the same results I did! Take care, Joe

    • Mark says:

      Spend the money. I have been wearing the same pair for over 2 years after I tore my right calf. They keep the area tight and warm. They are starting to show a little wear, but I think I can get another summer out of them. The only negative is that you can get overly dependent on them. They are the magic pill that you will crave to wear on every run.

  2. joerunfordom says:

    Kim – you bet, thanks for stopping by. Good luck in the mileage build-up. I hope this works for you. Take care – Joe

  3. joerunfordom says:

    Thanks for stopping by Tricia!

  4. Thanks this helpped me out alot. I appreciate it

  5. Kim says:

    I just bought some pink ones today – thanks for the review!! 🙂

    • joerunfordom says:

      Kim – thanks for stopping back by! Let me know how you like the sleeves when they arrive – would love to hear if you have the same success as I did. You are definitely going to rock the pink! Take care, Joe

  6. Kim says:

    Joe – I have them on now! 🙂 I got them today at Road Runner Sports when my DD was at a b-day party next door. Nice after my long run this AM.

    Can’t wait to wear them for my next run. Surprisingly, my calves are usually really tight after 10 miles, but I have had these on for several hours now & they aren’t tight at all!


  7. Henrik Stenson says:

    I too have suffered from shin splints and i am just starting to get back into running for track season. I have been running again for maybe 1 month now and my shin pains are reoccuring. I have ordered a pair of these online and i’m hoping with ice, less streneous workouts, and these shin compressors i will be able to compete with other runners. Wish me luck!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Henrik – thank you for the visit – I hope you have the same experience that I have had with the Zensah sleeve – it really was the last “push” I needed after rest and rehab to get back out there. I’m still wearing it on every run as added support – but have been pain free for several weeks now. Best of luck to you! Take care, Joe

  8. jeremy says:

    Thanks, Joe. So…I’m relatively new to distance running. My experience with running was limited to boxing training, which I got out of a few years back. Since then I have been weight lifting (mainly) and running some. Last winter I bought a road bike, endeavoring to get into triathlons. Problem is, years of weightlifting have given has only helped to give me a lot of unnecessary weight, as regards running, biking and swimming. Long story short, I jumped from running a few miles here and there to running ten miles two Saturdays ago, and another ten miler this past Saturday. The result: serious shin splints. A bigger problem: I have my first half marathon this Sunday. Now, I figure I’m pretty much screwed and I’m going to be subjecting myself to pain, regardless. But do you think the Zensah Compression Sleeve will help with the pain? Or is it more for recovery? Any thoughts?

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Jeremy! Thanks so much for the visit and for the message – so sorry to hear about the shin splint issues you are battling. The good news is you can absolutey recover from this – it is a classic overtraining injury. The bad news is – Sunday (3 days from now) is really not enough time to get over the pain. To directly answer your question about the Zensah sleeve – I really am a believer that it does a great job stimulating blood flow to the area and really helps with the soreness and pain. I was able to race to a PR at the half-marathon distance only 6 weeks after suffering from shin splints and a three-week haitus from running. It will help for sure. However, the injury you have right now can get worse if you don’t take care of it. What is happening is that the smaller leg muscles are having to take on too much stress in your weakened condition – and as you run they transfer that “load” directly to your shin. That is where the pain is coming from.

      The risk in running through this injury is that it can lead to a stress reaction or stress fracture that will land you on the shelf for weeks, possibly months. If you have to race on Sunday and can’t put it off – then make sure you really stretch those calf muscles and lower leg muscles – make sure that area is really warm (massage and a warm up) – and then wrap the area or go with a sleeve like the zensah. Unfortunately – the real “cure” is to take a couple weeks off from running, ice a lot during that time and then a gradual return to running at a reduced pace.

      You can beat this thing – it is a very common injury – unfortunately – it just takes some time. I hope that helps! Best of luck battling that shin. Best from Austin, Joe

  9. Jessica Dunsmore says:

    Thanks for the information! I started running a few months ago and got shin splints in the first week. They were due (I believe) to wrong shoes (I have flat feet and overpronate), which I got replaced and took some time off to rest. I then gradually built back up running, in training for a 5K which I competed in last weekend. In my training runs I typically run and walk, rather than only run. For the race I wanted to run as much of it as I could, but that was apparently a mistake. It was a very hilly course. I now have shin splints again. I plan to take this week off, and have ordered these sleeves. Aside from icing, rest, and compression, are there any exercises you reccomend to strenthen/prevent reinjury? how long should I take off? I have been running for weight loss and dont want to stall that effort, but also dont want to injure myself so badly I have to take months off.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Jessica – thank you so much for the visit and comment. Absolutely – I have some great stretching exercises to help rehabilitate the area that my Physical Therapist gave me. I will be back in Austin on Thursday and will scan those stretches into a pdf and e-mail them over. Let’s plan on catching up via e-mail at that point and I can talk to you a bit about how to know when you are “healed” enough to resume running etc. so you don’t have another set-back.

      My e-mail address is:

      Thanks again Jessica. Best of luck with this nagging injury – I know how very frustrating it is. I am more than happy to help. Joe

  10. Darren says:

    Joe I have enjoyed reading your comments and help for others. I have a pair of Zensah compression sleeves I bought the afternoon after I finished the Country Music 1/2 marathon in Nashville. I had terrible calf cramps at mile 11 and needing something to help with the discomfort. That was April 24th, I have only ran a few times since then. I am now starting to notice tenderness on my left shin. I think it might be a stress fracture, or hopefully shin splints. Do you think or know if these sleeves aid in healing stress fractures. Fortunately I have some MD friends (one being an orthoped), but from what I know and have learned, time is the healer here. Any advice is appreciated. Darren

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Darren – thanks for the message. So sorry to hear that you are struggling with shin pain after the Country Music Half.

      Based on what you are saying if sounds much more like Shin Splint issues than a stress reaction or stress fracture (which is great news!)

      When those larger leg muscles (calves) are weakened it puts more load on that sheath around your shin – and as that energy is displaced you end up with shin splints – pretty classic example.

      Rest is the prescription until it calms down and then stretching and strengthening exercises when you get back to running will help relieve that pressure and pain.

      I’ve got some stretching exercises that my sports Medicine Dr. gave me here in Austin that I would be happy to send your way. If you send me an e-mail at I will send those exercises in a .pdf to you.

      I would take several days away from running right now and do some eliptical/biking if you want to keep doing cardio – whether it is shin splints or even a slight stress reaction – you don’t want to take any chances as a stress fracture will put you on the shelf for 3-4 months instead of 3-4 weeks. No doubt which is preferred.

      Best of luck battling back from this. I’m now six months past my injury with no issues – so you can definitely beat this thing with a little patience. Take good care, Joe

  11. karen says:

    Ran across your blog researching the Zensah product. I’ve been trying to come back from a shin/calf strain issue and you mentioned sharing some of the exercises prescribed – I would love to compare what you’ve implemented to what I’m doing for exercises/stretching, etc.

  12. Mike says:

    I just found your review. Thanks for the information! As I’m changing my running style to ChiRunning, I’ve been getting sore cramps in my calves that almost immobilize me for 2-3 days before I can run again. I’m going to get a pair soon to hopefully alleviate the problem. Of course, as I run more, the calves will get used to it, but I hope that it will take my training further. Thanks again!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Mike – thanks so much for the visit and the comment. I hope the sleeves do the trick for you – I’m still very “Zensah Sleeve” dependent on my right calf and I’ve been running and racing a ton since coming back from my injury. a Half Marathon, 2 Fulls, 2 5K’s and a 1 Mile Race – still logging around 35+ miles a week training. The sleeve really has given me the support I need to push hard, train hard and recover. Best of luck to you Mike! Take good care and happy trails!

  13. JDUB says:

    Thanks for the tip. I am training for marathon in December. Terrible shin splints. Going to the Dr. tomorrow….I’m praying that there’s no stress fracture at this point. Have big tenderness and pain on that bump below the kneecap….might be something else? I will check out the sleeve. My question is…if I lay off a few weeks from running to recover, can I do cardio workouts on bikes and elliptical and still be able to keep up with the running group that I’m training with when I can return to running? That’s my biggest concern. thanks JDUB

    • joerunfordom says:

      JDUB – thanks for the visit and the message. Sounds like you have a case of shin splints or possibly a stress reaction – let’s hope it’s not a fracture. The December race depending on the week will be tough to get back to 100% and then train fully for. Everyone is different, and everyone’s body reacts differently to treatment – so hopefully you will be able to get back running sooner rather than later.

      You will really need to do Zero running while this calms down – which as you pointed out you can do no impact cardio such as biking/eleptical without aggravating the area – I did this heavily for 3-4 weeks when I was recovering.

      When you go back to running however you can quickly reinjure if you do too much, too quickly. So you will not be able to just jump into the meat of your training schedule and start running 10 milers on Sunday etc. to catch up.

      You will need to run a day, take a day off, run a day, take a day off for a couple weeks and be religious about your icing the area and the stretches your Doctor will prescribe. If you would like the exercises my Doc from Austin Sports Medicine prescribed – just e-mail me and I can send them to you.

      When you get back going the sleeve will definitely help the area – no doubt about that – but it’s not a cure-all – you will really have to rehab those muscles surrounding the shin to be pain free and train well for your marathon.

      Best of luck to you! You can do it – just be patient and if you have any pain, shut her down and live to fight another day – before you know it you’ll be back running injury/pain free. Best to you, Joe

  14. Jack Walsh says:

    Thanks for the review Joe, I suffered with shin splints the past soccer season and after beginning preseason again this year I feel like their flaring up again, I’ll definitely be purchasing a pair of these as they seem like they’ve been very successful in your case.
    Do you have anymore advice for me about my training or any other things that may help? I’m an English exchange student and I’ll be a senior in high school this year so its a big year for me and I need to perform in order to get a good scholarship at a good college! Any advice or tips you may have would be great!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Jack –

      Thanks for the visit and the message! So sorry to hear that the shin splint pain has returned. Such a frustrating injury. In addition to really warming up the muscles surrounding that shin (calf muscles etc.) area before you workout and/or play, there are some great stretching exercises using a resistance band that my sports medicine Dr. gave me.

      They really helped focus on strengthening those small muscles in the lower leg around the shin and took the pressure off of the sheath that surrounds the tibia.

      Being a soccer player I’m betting that you have very strong quads and calves – and they do a lot of the “heavy lifting” – which can cause some of your smaller leg muscles to not have to work as hard.

      When they get put under strain during the season – they start to displace energy to the shin and you end up with shin splint pain.

      I will e-mail you the stretching exercises – and I would try to do those every night for 4 weeks (or mornings if that works better) – and then go from there. I still do them about 3X per week right now just out of habit and have been without shin pain for 8 months, 2 marathons and a lot of running and racing.

      Best to you Jack – and good luck this season! Reach out to me anytime with questions:

  15. Micheál says:

    Thanks loads for the review Joe. I am an avid soccer player, play striker/forward and spend nearly 20-30 hours per week coaching youth teams as well as playing for my adult team. Shin splints are no joke for sure. I began feeling the pain of shin splints in December 2009 and continued to play on the injury. The injury resulted in multiple stress fractures on my left tibia and out of the game and coaching for 4months. I am doing my PT and recovery conditioning now and am investing in a pair of these sleeves. I yet feel a wee bit of pain in the left tibia, but will take it slow and strengthen the muscle group as needed. Thank you for a great review 🙂

    “The Cork Rebel”

  16. James says:

    Hi Joe

    just wondering if you would be able to email me thos strengthening and stretching excersises for the shin splints. would really appreciate it if you could! Been suffering with them for about 6 years now! just wanted to compare what excersises you have been doing with what ive been doing. Also thinking about buying some of these compression sleeves to wear when i play football. hopefully they will help! thanks alot!

  17. jetguat says:

    Hi. I’ve got a pair of these, and silly me, I forgot I had them. After a couple days of suffering from post marathon calf soreness. I thought, why not wear these DURING a marathon. So I’ve search around. Found this blog. Many people are saying they are thinking about it. Anybody actually run a marathon with them. Are there negatives to wearing them for 26.2? Or more specifically, I’m doing a 50k (my first ultra) on October 30th. I’m wondering if its ok to wear them for that long. I’m thinking yes, but looking for others feedback. Thanks!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Thanks so much for the visit and the message! I don’t think there are any negatives at all to be experienced by running long distance/racing with the sleeves. If you have had no irritation during training runs (always the best idea when trying out race day gear) – you should not experience any at marathon distance or more.

      I ran both the Boston Marathon and the Pittburgh Marathon 13 days later in my Zensah sleeve with no issues. In my view, the sleeve not only supported my calf and shin area, but increased blood flow to the area. I’m still racing in my sleeve, more out of superstition now probably than anything. So far, 1 half-marathon, 2 marathons, 1 mile race, 1 10K and 9 5K’s …. we are still out there crushing it together. Thanks again for the visit – good luck to you!

  18. Larry Imboden says:

    Hi, Joe! I loved your review of the Zensah compression wraps. I ordered a pair online and should get them any day now.
    I’ve been a 5K runner for years, and this past May I started training in eanest for a 5K charity race on Labor Day. In early June I developed shin splints from overtraining but rest & ice cured them. I ran the race on Labor Day on a course that had hills, and I developed shin splints again. This time I can’t seem to shake them. I’m resting, stretching, icing, and they get better then flare right back up. I’ve run only once since Labor Day. I’m hoping the Zensah wraps will help. I really, really miss running! But I’m sure I’ll be able to return to it soon enough.
    Question – should I wait until I’m completely pain-free before resuming light jogging (2 miles, 11:00 pace) or can I jog SLOWLY while using the Zensah wraps?
    Thank you for the great review! You’ve given me hope in my battle against shin splints.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Larry! So sorry that you had a return of that shin pain. As everyone who has ever suffered shin splint issues, what a frustrating injury.

      It sounds like the zensah sleeves may be just what you need to help put you back out there running pain free as your rest, ice and stretching regimin seems to get them to calm down to the point where you can run again, then you suffer another set-back.

      Your question is a good one. I would say that the goal before you get back out there and resume running very easy and gradual is 90%. That is what a lot of studies have shown as well as my Doc here at Austin Sports Medicine – who got me back running pain free recommended.

      The key will be staying dilligent with those stretching exercises when you resume training to strengthen those muscles around the sheath surrounding your shin bone(s), and of course a gradual return to running. Every other day, 2 miles easy, then 2.5, then 3 etc. after a few run days at each distance.

      The Zensah sleeves do a great job improving circulation to those areas and providing support – but you are spot on regarding resting the injury until the pain subsides, as if you rush back too soon, a relapse is likely.

      Best to you Larry! Hope you have as much good fortune as I have had coming back from your shin pain. Still running pain free 10 months later – 2 marathons, 1 Half, 1 10K, 9 5K’s, 1 mile race and counting! Take good care Larry and please reach out to me if you have any questions at

  19. Sam says:

    Hi, I was going to wear the Zensah compression sleeves for a marathon this weekend and somebody told me not to, that for that distance I should be wearing the compression sock and not the sleeve, as my feet coudl have blood pooling in them and swell up if they are no compressed below the ankle. Any thoughts on this? Has anybody run a marathon in the sleeve and not the sock? I have run in them up to 9 miles and they felt fine. Thanks

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Sam – congratulations on the race this weekend! Hope you have a great race. I ran two marathons in 13 days wearing my zensah sleeve with no issues. I have seen many a marathoner racing with the sleeves, so I think that you are very much safe to do so.

      Of course if you are nervous about it – you should err on the side of caution come race day – but I can state in my own experience that I have run many, many runs 16 miles plus with no ill effects.

      Best to you Sam – I hope that helps!

  20. Sam says:

    Thanks Joe…….very helpful, and reassuring !

  21. Jenny says:

    Hi, Joe! I just ran my first 5k this past Saturday. My shins are very sore. I had nasty shin splints about 8 years ago in high school during track season, and they tend to occur almost every time I run long distances! I have a pair of the Cho-Pat shin splint compression sleeves. I have been wearing them on and off now after this 5k and they seem to be helping. I am also beginning training for my first half marathon in February and I am nervous this injury will set me back! Have you tried sports massages for your shin splints? They are very tender to the touch and I cannot imagine someone massaging them!
    Thoughts? Suggestions?

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Jenny! Congrats on your 5K this weekend! Nothing like racing – I can imagine that your shins are feeling it. The 5K is a really intense event if you are racing hard. Close to max effort for three miles takes a toll on your body for sure. Anything that is a little “off” is definitely affected. Plenty of ice and anti-inflamatories the next two-three days will help a lot. Long term, the thing that will really need to happen to get over those shin splints is to strengthen the muscles around that sheath that is around your tibia. When those small muscles are weak or injured they can’t serve as “shock absorbers” and they transfer the energy from running to the tibia …. that is where the pain is coming from. I have had a sports massage, but not specifically for my shin issue – it was more to help me get back out there on the Pittsburgh Course after Boston 13 days earlier. It helped a lot for sure – but for the shin pain, it won’t help strengthen those ailling muscles.

      I would recommend some exercises that my PT gave me – I can e-mail them to you if you like, all that they require is an elastic band and a towell. The other exercise that really helped me were doing calf raises at the gym. This is such a nagging injury – you have to have a lot of patience, but you can absolutely “beat it” – just remember to alternate hard days with easy days as you train for your first half – and don’t be afraid to take a day off if you are sore —- better to back off than to push through and injure the area.

      Hang in there Jenny! I’ll get those exercises your way this evening when I get home. Best to you! J

  22. Jessica says:

    Hello Joe! It seems many people share the same problems with running injuries. I myself seem to suffer from shin splints whenever I run. I ran cross country all through high school and remember having them all throughout the 4 years. I just this last spring began consistantly running again. (After taking 10+ years off) The shin splints returned about month or two into running again. I have ran several 5K’s and an 8K over the last 8 months. I decided to “run through it” as I didn’t really feel I had another option.

    I most recently started researching shin splints more because I now have pain constantly throughout the day. It being the worst when I first wake up and walk in the morning. Ibuprofen helps but I shouldn’t have to take it daily I finally told myself. So, I luckily stumbed upon everyone’s comments here and found it up lifting. I don’t want to give up running. I now feel like I have finally gotten “over the hump” in my training. I would appreciate any feed back you have. Thanks so much!! — Jessica

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Jessica – thanks so much for the visit and the message. The shin pain you are having is absolutely something that you can get over. I’ve learned a lot about managing the condition – and the key really seems to be strengthening those lower leg muscles to the point where they absorb the shock and pounding of your running much more efficiently – taking the pressure off of your tibia area. I will forward along to you the PT exercises that my sports medicine Doctor here in Austin prescribed for me – even now I will do them if I feel any aches or soreness in my lower leg/shin area from training and racing.

      Best to you as you work your way through these issues – you will get there for sure! I think the Zensah sleeve is a great product to really help your running when you’ve rehabbed and strengthened that shin area. Take good care and good luck! J

      • Jessica says:

        Thanks Joe! You are very inspiring to many people including myself. I did order those compression sleeve. I am on my second week of rest from running. Can’t wait to try them. Will look for your exercises. You can’t imagine what a relief it is to find out I don’t have to give up running. Thanks again!!!

  23. dm18 says:

    My husband has started running marathons, and I would like to get him some compression sleeves as a present to help with shin splints. I’m wondering if you have tried other brands of compression sleeves, and if so, if you can give me some tips. Thanks!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Diane – The first pair of compression sleves I purchased after reading all the reviews etc. were Zensah sleeves. That was a little over a year ago and have not tried any other products from other manufacturers. They did the trick for me and I presribe to the “don’t fix it if it is not broken” adage when it comes to running and equipment. I know that CDP and 2XU have great reputations and many runners love them.

      Best to you and your husband from Austin, J

  24. Sam says:

    If you do wind up going with sleeves for you and your husband, (vs. the sock) I would strongly suggest youi try it several times on your long runs. I ran in the Zensah sleevs, and loved it them up to 9 miles. Then ran the NYC Marathon in them a few weeks ago and had a major issue. My left foot swelled and became quite painful, to the point where I needed to stop in a medical tent. There are varying opinions on whether sleeves (not the socks) should be used for longer runs, as some people feel(indeed CEP even will tell you this as their policy) that sleeves might cause blood to pool in the feet of some runners, as the foot itself is not compressed, and should not be used in runs over several hours. I found out the hard way that this was true for me(not for many people though, including Joe) On the plus side, it totally took care of my calf issue that almost prevented me from running the marathon at all, so I am a convert to compression

    • joerunfordom says:

      Sam – great, great point(s) above. Always best to test EVERYTHING when it comes to those longest of long runs and of course the marathon itself. Your miles may vary as they say!

  25. John Kossack says:

    Howdy, my name is John Kossack and I am a decathlete at Berea College. We recently started our spring training program for track and field and because of the level of fitness required for the decathlon I have been working very hard and am prone to shin splints very easily, especially with where we are forced to run until it warms up a little bit more. This is my senior season and I have a legitimate chance to be conference champion in the decathlon, as well as I am running a 13.1 mile half marathon midway through my season as well. I have always had terrible problems with shin splints, and haven’t been able to find a pair of shoes that really work well, but intend to go to Fleet Feet in my hometown back in Louisville and see what they can help me with for that. What exercises and such would you recommend or did your doctor recommend for moderate to severe shin splints? I feel as though my calves and shins are strong, just have horrible pressure absorption due to my being flat footed. Any help is well appreciated! Thanks very much for your time, and good luck with your running. I will keep Dom in my prayers.

    • joerunfordom says:

      John – thanks so much for the message and for the kind words about Dom and the plans for our upcoming races. I sent along a .pdf of the stretching exercises that my sports medicine Doc here in Austin prescribed – please reach out to me with any questions at all. Best to you in the upcoming season, sounds like you are poised for a tremendous year! Take good care and e-mail anytime.

      • John Kossack says:

        i will surely keep in touch and let you know how the season progresses. i didnt recieve the email with the pdf attachment yet, but i will be on the lookout for it. thank you very much for the help and kindness. another email you could try if it doesnt work is

  26. allison says:

    Hello! Considering getting one of these wraps to help with my shin splint. Sometimes I have pain when walking, sitting, driving and sleeping. Should the wrap only be worn when running or would it be helpful to wear during the day at work also? I am about to start PT and am currently taking a break from running. If I do some cardio on the bike or elliptical should I wear the wrap then? Also, is the ARC trainer an okay form of alternate cardio while I am healing? Thank you for all your valuable info!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Allison – thank you for the visit and the message. The good folks at Zensah I’m sure would have an opinion as to whether their calf sleeve or “compression socks” would be more effective for you when you are not actively “working out”. My suggestion would be to use the sleeve really when you are actively running, biking, working on the eliptical or arc trainer and a recovery or compression pair of socks for when you are just relaxing, walking etc.

      The key is to increase the bloodflow to the area and to provide some extra warmth and support to keep that shin area calmed down as you are recovering. I would not recommend wearing it all day, all night etc., as that is not really what “the Doctor ordered” so to speak.

      Also, I think you’ll find that the real key to recovery is going to be spending time strengthening the area and stretching. Getting those small muscle groups around the sheath surrounding your shin is the key to licking this condition for good. Best to you Allison! Please let me know if you have any questions – you can always e-mail me at

  27. allison says:

    Thank you for your input! Do you think Ace bandages help at all with a similar effect? Maybe for daytime use or when not working out? What is a good length of time for icing?

    • joerunfordom says:

      Sure thing Allison. My only concern with using a wrap like an ace bandage is in getting the tension just right. That is what is nice about those compression sleeves or socks. Not too tight, not too loose, just the right snug fit. I tend to over-wrap and if you cut off circulation, that is not a good thing. In fact a pretty bad thing ….

      As for icing, I have a pretty high “tolerance” level for that, some people have a little more or a little less. A good guess is ice for 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off 3X a day.

      A bag of frozen peas works great, you can just pop it in and out of the freezer at home or at work and not have to deal with all the ice, ice bags etc.

      Hope that helps Allison!

  28. Josh says:

    Thanks for the great review Joe.

    I’ll definitely have to check out those Zensah shin splint compression sleeves.

  29. Mary says:

    Hi Joe,

    What an awesome review and great feedback for all who want to share their story and ask for your advice. I just wore my new Zensah sleeves yesterday on a 9 mile trek while training for my 4th HM coming up in 11 weeks, the Country Music HM in Nashville, TN on April 30th. Although I only walk, (bad knees…looking to order the Zensah knee sleeve next), I wanted the support and I feel amazing after using them. I felt like I could go another 9 miles yesterday and now 24 hours my legs feel great.

    I truly belive these are the next best thing to sliced bread! Thanks for the reveiw, blog and all the great advice Joe. Take care, Mary

    • joerunfordom says:

      Mary – So great to read your message today! Glad that you are finding those calf sleeves to your liking. Congratulations on your upcoming Half. Please drop me a message afterwards and let me know if you decided to try out the knee sleeves and how you did. Best to you Mary!

  30. […] of their compression sleeves from last year when I was coming back from my shin splint pain – found here.  Once again, their product worked like a charm and kept my legs feeling fresh throughout the […]

  31. Jorge says:

    Hi Joe,

    Your review is AWESOME, and it definitely makes me want to get these. I’m currently training for the 2011 LA Marathon, and I recently had to stop running for about ten days due to a really bad shin splint on my left leg. I’m back to running, but like you mentioned, it still feels a little odd. No pain, but definitely weaker.

    I noticed in the photo that you wore the sleeve on just one leg. I think that’s what I’d like to do, but I was concerned with the uneven feel of wearing just one. I know it’s a little silly, but I’m just curious if you found wearing a single sleeve a little odd? Did one leg feel fresher towards the end of the race. I’d love to get your thoughts on that.


    • joerunfordom says:

      Jorge – thanks so much for the visit and the message. Those shin splint issues can be really frustrating – I was so happy to get the response/reaction from my shin area that I did after placing that sleeve on my right leg. I had no issues at all with just wearing the one sleeve as I was trying to just focus on helping that area gain the support and increased blood flow to help with my shin pain.

      That said, just this weekend I wore sleeves on both legs for my final 2 legs of the RAGNAR Del Sol race in Arizona. I had three legs inside of 18 hours, and felt like the zensah sleeve would help my legs feel fresh on my overnight leg and early morning final run. They worked like a charm and I ran very strong throughout the 200 mile relay. Great, great stuff. Thanks again Jorge. Best to you at LA! I know you will do great.

  32. John Kossack says:

    Hey Joe, the sleeves are working great for me, when i can get the shin splints i had to go away they work well to help keep them away. having new shoes and all helps a lot too. i was wondering, do you have any recommendations for running shoes, or even inserts maybe to walk around in so i can help keep my shins from taking punishment from walking around campus all day and in my spikes? update as well, i worked with long jump and high jump this week, doing well there, and did some pole vaulting for the first time yesterday…everyone says i look like ive been doing it for awhile. so its going well here.

    • joerunfordom says:

      John – so great to hear from you and great to hear how well you are doing right now – sounds like you are just crushing it out there. Pole vault? Are you kidding me? Great stuff.

      I’ve found that I try to get out of my running shoes and into a pair of shoes that supports my foot in a different fashion, if that makes sense. Right now as a matter of fact, I’m in a pair of cowboy boots at my desk (that’s what happens when you live in Austin) – with compression socks or recovery socks by zensah on.

      In the spring of last year – Runnersworld had an article about shoes that were made strictly for recovery purposes. K-Swiss made a pair, the Blade light recover – that intrigued me – but I never pulled the trigger on a purchase.

      I think there is something to it, and perhaps I will look into doing a product review on those shoes later this spring after my next marathon. I do know that getting into a different shoe with different “hot spots” seems to help my legs rebound much better after a hard workout.

      Best to you John! Keep crushing it out there!

  33. Huey Counts says:

    Enjoyed the review. I ordered one about a week ago for my right leg. Like you, I had never had shin splint issues. Coming off the holiday break I decided to “really” ramp up my training for 2011 and overdid things.

    I thought I’d wait it out and run through it, but it’s been two months and no luck. So I’m icing like a mad man, and hoping these will work as I have a half-marathon a week from Saturday.

    I haven’t found any clear answer on whether to wear them all the time or just when I run. What are your thoughts?


    • joerunfordom says:

      Huey –

      Thanks so much for the visit and the message. I’m sorry to hear you are still struggling with the shin issues. I actually did while recovering and still do run with my zensah sleeve on my calf/shin. It’s been through 3 half marathons, 3 full marathons and more 10K’s and 5K’s than I can count at this point all with great results.

      I’ve heard some runners complain a bit about the tight compression while they are racing and training – but I’ve not had any issues. I would give it a try once you feel recovered to the point to remove it, perhaps going 2 days on, one day off to see how the area responds. If you have any issues with the sleeve and you are not feeling any pain in the shin, you may want to remove it entirely. I like it there as it helps keep the muscles warm and loose – and the pressure helps with blood flow to the area – also keeping my shin area “happy”.

      Best to you, please reach out to me anytime with questions – always glad to help.

      Happy running!

  34. Stephanie Olafson says:

    Hi Joe! I am so glad to have stumbled upon your information. I am in the midst of returning to running after having been out of the sport for a year for debilitating (and mentally excruciating 😦 ) anterior tibial shin splints. I am gradually making the slow transition from the treadmill to the road and my shins are feeling it again. I will definitely be getting these sleeves you recommend to facilitate my return to running. I would love to have a copy of the exercises you recommend if you feel they would be applicable to shin pain that exists in the tibialis anterior muscles. I find that most of the information out there is for the classic shin splints that appear on the inner side of the tibia.
    Thank you in advance!!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Stephanie – I have just sent along those exercises to your e-mail address. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time with questions.

      Happy running! Joe

  35. Angie says:


    I have recently begin running and quickly moved from about a 30 min run to a 70-75 min run (the total time includes a 10 min warm up fast walk, 50 min run, 10-15 cool down fast walk). I added time fairly quickly because it seemed easy enough. However, now I am having knee pain (kind of like a c-shape around top, bottom and inner knee) and shin pain. I think the sleeve could help my shins but would love to know of any excercises to help and if you have any experience with knee braces.


  36. Lauren says:


    Shin splints have been a chronic pain for me for two years now. I’ve been trying to get rid of them ever since. I just heard about these sleeves and they sound great from your review. Will these help to ease and somehow prevent my shin splints from ‘really’ starting up again? I’m starting to feel them again and I don’t think i can afford another 2-3 week break of cross country practice. Also, do you have any special exercises to combat them?

  37. Heather says:


    I too have had problems with shin splints for years now. After reading your article I am seriously thinking of purchasing the sleeves. I was also wondering if you can send me the stretches and exercises that helped you in your recovery?

  38. treadmill says:

    bowflex series 3…

    Product Review – Zensah shin splint compression sleeve « Joe Still Runs For Dom…

  39. Dan Schaeberle says:

    I had planned on getting these running sleeves at my local running/shoe store. However the owner and locally known runner recommended I get these compression wraps by Pro-Tech Athletics for my shin splints. I tried them twice and it did nothing for my shins. Do I give up on them and buy the sleeves or do I continue using what I got?

    • joerunfordom says:

      Dan –

      So sorry to hear that you have not been able to gain any relief from the compression sleeves. I am going to e-mail you at your yahoo address the stretching exercises that my PT here at Austin Sports Medicine prescribed. I think that a rest from running, with strength and stretching is really what the condition calls for right now, and when you get back to running gradually, (one day on, one day off), I would go back to the compression sleeves. I felt like once I was back to about 90-95% health – the sleeves gave me the extra support and warmed my muscles enough to let me get back out there and hammer away pain free. But up to that point, it really required a lot of patience and cross training with no/little impact. I really hit the bike and the eliptical hard during that time to keep my cardio up as best I could. Good luck Dan, e-mail me directly any time with questions.

  40. Matthew Rohrer says:

    I came across your forum today in my frantic search for help with my recent shin pain. I am currently training for my first marathon (Chicago coming up on Oct 9th) and have been following a runner’s world training program. I am 20 years old and have been running for about 5 years (I did cross country and track throughout highschool) with increased mileage particularly throughout this past year. I have not had any shin pain until recently after a 53 mile week (with a 20 mile long run) and am worried that this is the developing of shin splints. I am already planning on getting this compression sleeve but was wondering if you might have any advice on how i should go about my training these next few weeks? The pain is mainly concerning and not overwhelming at this point. I know that the best remedy is rest but I am worried about tapering too early. At the same time I am worried about straining this injury any further. Any advice would be much appreciated, thanks!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Matthew – thank you for the message and the visit. I am so sorry to hear that you are dealing with shin issues so close to race day. Shin splints are the classic “too much” injury – so it is extremely likely that the increased mileage is what has that area inflamed around the sheath of your tibia.

      Rest, stretching and icing is the prescription for sure to get you to the starting line for race day.

      You are about one week before going into a traditional 3-week taper, so you are very, VERY close to when you should dial down the long runs and allow your body to heal and adapt to the new load to repair and get ready for the marathon.

      I would not worry one bit about you losing too much fitness by backing off right now. If you are 100% healthy, you will crush a Matthew that shows up on race day with one more week of heavy mileage under his belt, but only 90% healthy.

      The marathon exposes those little cracks in the athlete – you need to get that shin area calmed down right now and then enjoy some lower mileage to the race.

      Rest for 3 days this week and do some cross training like cycling, elliptical etc., that has no pounding on that shin.

      I would reduce my mileage of my weekend workouts to 50%, and run every other day (Friday and Sunday) instead of back to back days for example.

      When you are symptom free, go back to the taper in your training plan and not be tempted to “make up” any mileage. Your fitness level is theree, you won’t lose hardly anything Matthew – just stay positive mentally and don’t sweat it. The Marathon is 99% mental after mile 18.

      Better to be strong and confident in your health. That will pay off much more than one more week of mileage.

      Best to you Matthew! Enjoy your first marathon, theree is nothing like it.

  41. Phyllis says:

    Just stumbled upon this entry while researching compression. I have always had shin splints. Very high arch and rigid ankles. Fitted shoes help but I would love to see your PT exercises. Is it too late to ask you to share again?
    Thanks ever so much!

  42. Sue says:

    Hi, Joe, I am not a runner myself (I’m a swimmer lol) but my son is a high jumper and sprinter in HS track. We saw another high jumper wearing shin compression sleeves at their opening meet today and I had actually wondered if there was such a thing. So in the course of researching them I came across your very helpful blog and was wondering if you could yet again share the exercises for shin splints? Alex had a lot of trouble with shin splints last year for the first time, and getting different shoes and adding commercial orthotic arch supports seemed to help.

    We replaced his shoes again for this season but now he is finding the shin splints is coming back in his high jump takeoff leg, so looking to nip this in the bud before it can become full-blown again. Aside from stretching and icing and replacing the track spikes with high jump spikes for the jumping part of his workout, looking at a compression sleeve for added support and seeking good exercises to strengthen the muscles in that target area. Looks like the Zensah sleeves are a superior product and I am betting it will help him. He does a lot of weight training during the winter between football and track but not a heavy runner since his main event is high jump. So guessing the relatively abrupt increase in running at the beginning of track season training in the spring may have something to do with the recurrence, as well as his overpronation, I think. So basically would really be interested in passing on the exercises you’ve offered here, since as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!! Thanks!

  43. Jennifer says:

    Hi Joe,

    My daughter is an athlete. She is on a highly competitive club soccer team that plays year round. She also does HS soccer and track & field (individual running events, relays, long jump, triple jump). Just this March/April has begun suffering from shin splints and calf muscle issues (severe burning, tightness, and soreness) for the first time in her life. We saw her pediatrician and he sidelined her from all activities for 2 weeks. She could only return to activities when she had been pain free for 1 week. She has also seen the trainer at the high school, but he has not done much for her – just taped the insole of her feet once, and said come back in something changes! So, we have used “self-help” (research, etc.) for her recovery so far.

    We have been working on stretching and rehabilitation, and went to a specialized runners store to get her new sneakers and other items. She has been wearing an adjustable wrap (designed for shin splints) on her lower shin areas to aide in the healing/prevention of the shin splints during her activities, and ankle supports (Ace type of pull on) during non-activity to keep the compression of the area. We also purchased a “roller” to message her muscles after activity.

    For two weeks after returning back to activities, she was taking it easy and coming back slowly in soccer and track and had no issues. Just last week, she upped her game a bit more and the burning in the calves has returned and some targeted/localized pain (instead of all the way up/down the lower 1/3 of the shin) in the shin area on one leg. She has found that the shin splint wraps tend to move around as sweat builds under them. She was so frustrated after her soccer game yesterday as she was only able to play for 10 min, in the first half, and had to sit the rest of the game. She broke down afterwards crying and saying she wants to quite soccer and track (sports she loves so much!) becaue her legs just hurt and feel so weak.

    So, I continue to do research on my own to find a solution (products, PT, stretching, etc.) to help her, and I came across your review of the Zensah product. I am looking to give this product a try, and was also wondering if you can share the stretching and strengthening exercises you used in your recovery? We will give these a try, too, and get her back to back to 100%.

    Thanks so much.

  44. Maggie Rose says:

    Joe any chance you could email me your exercises for shin splints? I have decided to return to triathlons after 12 years. I love being back at it but my shins are not at all happy. I plan to get sleeves but feel strongly that it is an imbalance in strength and flexibility that could be addressed with proper stretching. This 47 y.o. Mother of twins will take any help you can offer thanks, maggie

  45. Emily Barton says:

    Joe, As I was researching the Zensah compression sleeve for shin splints I ran across your review and could not help but write. Having never been a runner, ever, I started in January on a treadmill at home and faithfully ran 3- 4 days a week and built up to 5 miles at 5 mph. I alternated flat out runs with intervals with hills. I was happily going along impressing myself and not having any injuries or pain with the exception of generalized muscle soreness associated with exercising muscles too used to taking it easy. Which abated as time went on and I pushed through it. But, along came a Women’s runners clinic and I started running outside on the road. I warmed up before, stretched afterwards and have followed the instructions and the routine the clinic suggested. Not only did I find I could not run nearly as far and as fast as I did on the crutch of a treadmill, but after about the third run on the road I have developed what I think is shin splint on the left. I have a lot of calf muscle pain, intermittent and especially cramping when I quite running, or when I get up from sitting around. It now has progressed to actual tenderness on the shin itself. I have been to a store for runners and had a fitting and purchased hopefully the appropriate shoes Also bought some compression socks for recovery but have been using the compression socks for running as well. Maybe that is what kept me from full blown shin splits till now. I would love to have a copy of the exercises your physician has recommended it you would not mind emailing them to me.

    Thank you so much for your excellent review and words of wisdom I have read here. I know now I really am going to have to back off a little and rest so I can come back and compete in my first 5k as a runner and not a walker. By the way, I am a 53 year old grandmother of 6, work a full time job doing 24 hour shifts and am on my feet for many of those hours. I think it is about time I started running.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Emily! That’s so much for the message. That shin area is all about increased load (running volume, strain of hills, wind etc.) vs. those small muscles that form the sheath around your shin.

      The good news is once you strengthen that area, you will never have to deal with this issue again, as long as you keep up with the training and the occasional maintenance.

      I will email the exercises over to you and if you have any questions – feel free to email me back at any time.

      Happy trails!

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