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cep compression run socks 2.0

It couldn’t have been all that long ago that there were just a few main sports companies offering compression socks and sleeves for improved race performance. 2007 or 2008 I think it was. I remember CEP, CW-X, and Zensah being the prominent brands when I was first looking.

Nowadays, running stores have entire sections devoted to compression socks! The big running and triathlon brands are still there, and you’re also seeing the giant sporting goods companies like Nike and ASICS joining the fray. Furthermore, companies like Injinji and SmartWool, who I never expected to offer compression socks, are offering compression socks!

Everyone and their brother is making compression socks!

The vast majority of these socks, I haven’t even seen them in real life, let alone worn them. So I can’t say if they’re excellent or if they’re nothing more than “me too” products.

What I will say is, I’m more inclined to look into the tried-and-true products. That’s why I’m reviewing the CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0. As the name implies, these socks have been around long enough to now have a newer version!

If you look into the company history, you’ll see that CEP was founded in 2007. Yet the website states that “six decades of research and development on the effects of compression are integrated into every CEP product.”

How does that add up? Well, CEP is a division of a much larger medical company, medi GmbH & Co. KG. That company was founded in 1920, and they debuted their compression stocking in 1964. So, even though CEP is a relatively young company, they have a huge leg up on their competitors thanks to their parent company’s long history.

Why would anyone wear compression socks?

For one thing, tons of athletes are wearing them. Not just your middle of the pack runners or triathletes either.

Maybe you’ve heard of Meb Keflezighi? He won the 2009 New York City Marathon. And more recently, the 2014 Boston Marathon. What was he wearing? CEP compression socks.

Going back further, compression socks are used all the time in the medical fields. They help sedentary patients maintain circulation. It’s been commonplace for longer than I’ve been around.

For athletes, compression socks are claimed to improve blood circulation as well as blood flow in the muscles themselves, which could result in greater endurance and enhanced performance. They also provide some assistance with muscle and joint stabilization, which could reduce risk of injury.

The catch is, not all compression socks are created equal.

cep compression run socks medi box

What’s so special about these CEP compression socks?

Some compression socks are nothing more than tight socks made in China. And some are designed to hold up to nothing more than the rigors of bed rest.

These though, are the real deal. Made in Germany, these socks take the medical knowledge and success of CEP’s parent company, medi, and craft a product designed to hold up to the rigors of athletic training. The socks feature asymmetric construction (watch for the “L” and “R” markings) for an anatomical fit, graduated compression (from 18-24 mmHg) so you get the right level of compression at the right spot, and even arch stabilization and an Achilles tendon protector.

On top of all that, they offer air channels for foot ventilation and cooling, sweat-wicking fabric to keep you dry, and antibacterial properties to keep them clean and fresh (rather than stinky.)

In addition to black (pictured,) you can get them in red, white, and blue colors! The womens line includes pink, too.

I’m pretty sure CEP makes the best quality compression socks. And you will pay for it, to the tune of $60.00 per pair!

Putting These Socks to the Test!

I tested these socks through the summer and fall of 2014. Unfortunately my testing was hit or miss, due to a few non-running injuries that prevented me from running consistently for more than a few days at a time.

But I did the best I could to wear them for some road running, trail running, backpacking, long highway driving, and on the couch recovering.

I wanted to answer these questions:

  • Do I run faster?
  • Do I feel faster?
  • Do I recover faster?

cep compression socks on my feet

The first test was getting the correct size and fit…

This was surprisingly easy.

It seems like it would be kind of tricky since you have to consider both your shoe size and calf measurement. But the CEP size chart goes only by calf circumference, and somehow it works. My calf measurement is usually in the 14-15″ range, and finding that on the chart, it says I wear a Men’s size III (yes the sock sizes are in Roman numerals.)

If you happen to be on the line between sizes, it’s recommended to down size. I agree.

The second test was getting the socks on my feet!

The first thing I realized is how tough it is to get these on! It’s a workout in its own right, requiring strength, finesse, dexterity, and patience.

There’s actually an instruction booklet in the box that explains, via step-by-step photos, how to get into these socks. And I needed it! It’s not a complicated process, but you have to do it slowly and methodically.

Initially I thought, “it doesn’t sound difficult, I’ve had other compression garments.” Well, these aren’t other compression garments!

I literally broke a sweat halfway into the first one! It took me at least 5 minutes to get the socks on, but felt like it took 10, likely because of how much my hands hurt. (The right sock nearly snapped my thumb backwards!)

Eventually, both socks were properly aligned on my feet and extended up to my knees. They felt simultaneously too tight and too awesome! (Another reminder that these aren’t your ordinary compression socks!)

I expected them to be fairly tight, but not this tight. And I expected them to be thin all around, but they’re not. They have just the right amount of wonderful cushioning and arch support.

Finally, I set out for my first run. After the struggle to get these on, I only had about 10 minutes to devote to actual running, so my route was down the road and around the yard and back inside.

During the run, I could feel that I was wearing tall, tight socks, but it wasn’t overpowering or distracting. Actually, I think I was still annoyed about how long it took to get them on, because I swore that I was going back to calf sleeves immediately!

Did I run faster?

Due to the claim of “greater endurance and enhanced performance,” I was expecting to run faster than usual, over longer distances.

Sometimes I did. Sometimes I didn’t.

So many variables came into play that I can’t say the socks had anything to do with my performances. This shouldn’t be a surprise though – even scientific research studies are having trouble proving these performance benefits.

Did I feel faster?

I didn’t necessarily feel faster, but I sure felt better! Nearly every time I wore these, I felt like I was running with better form, moving fluidly, and landing softly.

I can’t take any credit for that though. I’m pretty sure the socks were holding my feet and ankles in better alignment and helping my muscles to better absorb the shock of the ground.

That right there is a win!

The best example is when I started running on pavement again.

I do the vast majority of my running on trails and dirt roads. If I run on pavement, it’s usually less than a mile.

Well, in August, for the first time of the year, I decided to run 3.1 miles on pavement. I averaged 8:04/mi, but it broke down to a 9, 8, and 7 minute mile. I expected my legs to give out after the first mile, but instead, I picked up the pace! I don’t know if that would have been possibly without these socks.

I feel like the socks eased the pounding from the pavement. To what extent, I’m not sure. My calves were hurting for the last half mile and very sore after finishing, so there were no miracles.

My backpacking trip was epic too.

Backpacking is a fairly slow, steady activity. It’s nothing like trail running. But with the treacherous trails (too technical for running) and a heavy backpack, it puts A LOT of stress on your feet, calves, and especially your Achilles tendons. In other words, it would serve as a perfect test for these socks!

After 20 miles of tough, hilly trail at Raccoon Creek State Park, I was battered, bruised, and quite perturbed that my Garmin was telling me I had only hiked 19.9 miles. My feet were sore, my toes and heels had blisters, and my knees and hips ached. But my calves, they felt fine!

My calves lasted way longer than I expected before they got sore at all (and backpacking steep hills would normally make them sore quickly!) On the second half of the hike, my quads and hams were feeling it, but my calves were still plugging along contently.

Even better, I experienced no Achilles pain whatsoever!! (And that’s something I expect after long backpacking trips.)

The only downside is that the sock was too thin for my hiking boots. This led to slipping and sliding feet, which led to blisters on my left foot, which led to an altered stride, which led to pain in my right foot. (Unfortunately I didn’t catch on until it was too late!)

Overall, that was one experience that really made me think highly of these CEP socks! I’m still in awe of how well they performed that day!

Did I recover faster?

This is the toughest question to answer, but I think they do help with recovery a little more than my other compression sleeves and leggings. (Just a little though.)

They definitely do a better job than not wearing any compression garments!

What surprised me was that I could wear them basically all day. Whether it’s 6 hours of hiking, 8 hours at your desk, or a 12 hour flight, these are a good companion.

Some people may find them uncomfortably tight when trying to get to sleep at night, but I don’t mind. I’m used to sleeping in some sort of compression leggings anyway.

Are they durable?

When it comes to durability, the sad truth is that compression garments wear out more quickly than the average piece of clothing.

These socks are guaranteed by CEP to withstand 6 months of daily use before compression lessens. That equates to 150-200 wears and washes before compression begins to lessen.

Other brands I’ve worn don’t last 3 months of daily use without losing compression, so a potential 6-month lifespan is impressive!

If you wear them weekly like me, they should last a few years!

All I can say is that so far, mine still look good as new, even though I’m using them on the trail rather than the road.

My final verdict is…

At $60 a pop, these wouldn’t be at the top of my priority list if you’re only looking for performance gains or faster recovery. You can get better value elsewhere.

If you have plantar fasciitis, Achilles problems, or frequent shin splints, though, I would make the investment! These socks have definitely helped me in that regard, and I’m impressed with the quality of the socks themselves – you get what you pay for.

(My first day wearing these had me hating compression socks. Now I love them!)

Official website: www.CEPCompression.com

Buy online: www.Amazon.com | www.Zappos.com

Product Review Details
Company: CEP
Product: CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 4.0 out of 5
Date last updated: 2014-11-22
Obtained Product: Free sample from company.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No.

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  1. Did you wear them bicycling?

  2. @Stephen

    I did not, for two reasons.

    1. These are the run socks and they make cycling socks.

    2. I think the main benefits I get from these are going to be found during sports where my feet are pounding the pavement, so to speak. Cycling is lower impact, and I’m also much more skilled as a cyclist than as a runner so I don’t need the assistance. 😉

    Actually, since I often wear some type of knee or leg sleeve when riding anyway, that would get in the way of such tall socks.

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