Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Red Venom Calf Compression

The first time I saw calf guards being worn I laughed and pointed. But, following a series of calf strains and in desperation I bought a pair for myself and never looked back. In my own experiment of one I have concluded that they work. I have never had a calf strain while wearing calf guards and wear them pretty much all the time now. Its up to others to scientifically measure and verify the various claims about their benefits; there is already some evidence that suggests their effects may be somewhat less significant than some have claimed. For me though I feel better when I run and recover better afterwards.

Of course there is a drawback - there always is - and in this case its the price. Frankly, £30 to £45 for a pair of elasticated tubes feels like a liberty.

So imagine my excitement when I found a company offering compression gear, including calf guards, at a significantly reduced price. In fact the company - Red Venom - have a tag line of "Same quality, 1/3 price". Too good to be true? Well this is what I wanted to find out and at this price I was prepared to take the risk.

Red Venom produce all sorts of compression wear - which I have yet to try out - including more than one type of calf compression. The ones I bought are the graduated compression calf guards. These sell for £12.50. Yes, that's £12.50! They are similar in appearance to Compressport's offering with a grey cuff at top and bottom; since I have a pair of Compressport calf guards already its only natural that I compare the two products when measuring Red Venom's claims of quality.

My ultra running persona
I should take time to compliment Red Venom on a really great name; if I'm going to be a walking advertising hoarding for a clothing company then one that shares a name with a Marvel comic character is always going to get my vote. Unfortunately, the large red decal used on most of their gear is replaced by some rather indistinct embroidery for the calf guards which is a shame; with a name like Red Venom there can be no font too small in my opinion.

So un-wrapping the calf guards my first thoughts were that they looked small. for anyone that hasn't met me I should point out I am 6 foot 2. Compressport calf guards are just barely long enough - the Red Venom ones are definitely shorter. Its an unusual thing, sizing. for some reason none of the major manufacturers, with the exception of Salomon, offer multiple lengths for the various girths (sizing is based on a measurement around the fattest part of the calf muscle). Compressport, bizarrely, provide slightly longer length for the widest fittings. My experience is that the people with the biggest calfs are often short and stocky whilst many taller people have skinny legs so why this decision was taken I don't know. What this means is that, for a lanky bugger like me, the Red Venom calf guards only cover the larger upper calf and don't reach down over the lower leg to the ankle. Most of the calf strains I've had have been low down on the Soleus, so this does cause me a bit of a problem. However, if you are not super tall, or primarily want to protect the upper calf - the Gastrocnemius - then these concerns will be largely irrelevant.

Showing the relative sizes - and a lovely pair of legs!!

Its also clear when handling them that they are made from a thinner material than Compressport. This requires a little more care putting them on but there seems no difference in the feeling once on. As far as I can tell the compression is very similar and perfectly adequate.

So, in conclusion, if you are of average height or less, or only concerned with protecting the upper calf, then the Red Venom graduated compression calf guards are well worth a try. At less than half the price of the Compressport product you can't go wrong. I wear mine for shorter runs mid week but, because of the shorter length will tend to wear a longer model on long runs and races (to be perfectly honest I've just bought a long pair of Salomon Exo Calf as even the Compressport ones aren't really long enough). However, If Red Venom ever start offering a long version of each size as Salomon do there really would be no contest.

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