For years, athletes have used ice to manage pain and swelling in joints and muscles — but here’s the thing: Ice isn’t perfect. It can be too cold, messy, and even dangerous. In more recent years, kinesiology technology has gotten a lot of play. Similarly, Kinesiology Tape products (such as KT Tape or Rock Tape) also come with their own challenges, including an inconvenient taping session that may require a trained specialist (and a costly appointment).
Now, two newer, better technologies have emerged as go-to tools within the athlete community — GO Kinesiology Sleeves and cool therapy technology like OnyxCool
So let’s look at when to use one application over the other — and when there might be a case for both.
1. Acute Injury
Whether from trauma or overuse, cooling is your best option during the first 72 hours of a new injury to reduce excessive inflammation. The OnyxCool system lets you have direct skin contact with its phase change material that can provide cooling at room temperature or after refrigeration. OnyxCool lets you avoid some of the pitfalls of using ice: too much vasoconstriction, potential for tissue damage, discomfort, and inconvenience.
OnyxCool Knee Cooling Product
GO Sleeves use compression with built-in kinesiology strips which work together to reduce inflammation and improve circulation. GO Sleeves can assist with an acute injury to reduce inflammation and pain levels as a secondary treatment, but they really shine when you’re managing chronic pain and high training loads during exercise and recovery between training sessions.
2. During exercise
There are many benefits from GO Sleeves during exercise. Soft tissues receive support, the body reaches mechanical efficiency and has the potential for enhanced proprioception – also known as limb/body position awareness. Calf sleeves do a great job assisting with venous return – promoting better oxygenation and blood flow around and within tissues.
GO Sleeves built-in kinesiology strips target your most vulnerable areas to increase lymphatic flow while helping the sleeve to stay securely in place. I most often hear from athletes that GO Sleeves significantly reduce pain from chronic injuries, help prevent injuries, and reduce muscle soreness following strenuous exercise. Personally, I like to wear my GO Sleeves calf sleeves for my long runs and high-intensity sessions.
3. For recovery
OnyxCool products and GO Sleeves can both be used following training sessions and between sessions. If you’re using GO Sleeves for recovery between training sessions, try wearing them for 2 hours to see how your skin tolerates the “lifting” action of the kinesiology strips. They are designed for you to put them on and GO about your day, but aren’t meant to be worn indefinitely.
If you are dealing with a high level of inflammation due to chronic injury, it might be more appropriate to use a cooling therapy immediately following your training session, then add the recovery benefits of pulling on GO Sleeves after.
Either way, both modalities are convenient ways to recover and can be used consecutively without requiring you to sit idle to be effective.
If you decide that cool therapy technology would be useful for your personalized applications, we have found that the OnyxCool products are very effective. Their cooling products use Phase Change Material to maintain a consistent and appropriate temperature range. If you wish to try OnyxCool products in conjunction with your GO Sleeves use promo code GOCOOL30 for 30% off any OnyxCool product at OnyxCool.com.
Josiah Middaugh is the Head of Performance Science for GO Sleeves. Josiah is a 15-Time XTERRA USA Off-Road Triathlon National Champion and 2015 XTERRA World Champion
Recent XTERRA Hall-of-Fame inductee Josiah Middaugh’s achievements precede him with 15 XTERRA USA National Championship wins, a 2015 XTERRA World Champion Title, 3 Fat Bike World Championship wins, and 6 USSSA National Snowshoe Championships. He’s a pro on and off the track, with a Master's degree in Kinesiology and his own premier athlete coaching business. Middaugh understands the importance of injury prevention, management, and recovery – making him the perfect GO Sleeves team athlete to share how GO Sleeves have helped him and the clients he coaches in their recovery and training regimens.
Learn more about Josiah’s coaching practice for endurance athletes at middaughcoaching.com.