Sometimes as a runner I can be a little old school. There was a time that I would go on a run with nothing more than a pair of shorts and shoes to get me through it. I didn’t have things like moisture wicking clothing, carb gels, or compression gear to get the job done. I have since found these wonderful products and I have enjoyed seeing how they can enhance my workouts, recovery, and overall performance. Some of the things I have tried have been amazing and others not so much so I get really excited when I find something that does exactly what it advertises and even a little more. One of these recent finds is 110% Play Harder, and I’m now a huge fan of them.
I was turned onto Play Harder by a fellow runner, and after a quick look at the website I was emailing them. I’m always a little torn on the whole “contacting companies for stuff to review” thing, but if I’m being honest I have to say that I like trying new things and it’s nice when they are free. I had a swift response that said they would be happy to send me a product of my choice which I thought was great. You may be wondering what this company provides, and I haven’t said that yet because I wanted to talk about this email response first. It was quick, and I liked that, but what I thought was really great is that the person who
contacted me is a fellow runner and she even had some barefoot experience. It’s not every day that a company has the blessing of getting to employ someone who has participated in the sports that their product is geared towards. Not only was that the case here but the person I was contacted by was also a fairly accomplished collegiate runner. This may not be a big deal to the masses but I respect the opinions of someone who has been there and done that.
If you made it this far then you will now find out that 100% Play Harder is a compression clothing company with a very special twist. What’s the twist? That would be ICE. All of their compression gear is fitted with pockets that hold special ice packs in key areas for recovery. They offer knickers, calf sleeves, shorts, and knee wraps that all feature very technical compression as well as the ice pockets.
I went with the Transformer Shorts for two reasons. I have wanted to see what it was like to run with compression shorts and I was also interesting in seeing if these shorts could replace my ice baths. The shorts were sent right out and I was really impressed with them when they arrived. I wasn’t expecting much from these since they were coming from a company I had never heard of but I held out hope since the idea behind them was so cool (no pun intended). The quality and construction of the shorts is top notch and just holding them in my hands they just had that high quality feel. Like any self-respecting reviewer would do I immediately stripped down in my living room and slid these shorts on. They felt great. The fabric was smooth and soft with just the right amount of tightness. I have found that getting the right level of compression can be a little tricky so it was a really nice surprise for these to fit so well and I was very excited to put them through the ringer. The shorts come with the ice packs which at first seemed a littleintimidating to work with, but Play Harder has gone to great lengths to explain how they work. They even print a little
message on the ice packs telling you to relax and that it’s not rocket science. They were right about that. All I had to do was run the packs under water until they absorbed enough water to reach the recommended thickness. After that I dried them off and put them in the freezer. They are reusable and the instructions even said that if the packs start to lose performance that I just need to put them in the water again. The shorts also came with a really awesome thermal bag to carry the frozen ice packs in. This thermal bag will keep your ice packs frozen for about two hours and keep them cold enough to benefit you for up to six hours! For those of you who enjoy racing this is a great benefit. Oh and just for those rare instances when you want some heat, well the packs can be heated too.
In terms of performance these shorts are nothing short of wonderful. They do everything you want them to do which is support the muscles, improve and maintain circulation, and improve recovery time. I had an initial concern about the shorts having two layers of fabric, one on the skin and the second to hold the ice packs. I thought this extra fabric would make these shorts really hot but I went for it anyway, and I could not have been more wrong. I felt no more heat in these shorts than I have in any of my other compression gear. I ran and biked in these shorts and both times my legs felt great. I also liked how the second layer of fabric on the rear gave me some extra cushion for the dreaded bike seat. As great as these shorts function for compression during exercise they are even more impressive after. I was very surprised at how wonderful it was to be able to come in after my run and slide ice packs in my pants. I didn’t have to fill my tub and pour out my ice bucket from the freezer to sit in said tub for twenty minutes. Instead I was able to slip a few ice packs around my legs, hips, and buttocks to enjoy catching up on some recorded shows. I can also sit at my desk and get work done while icing down in my Transformer shorts, which saves me a lot of time. The icing is cold but not overly so and you definitely get the desired results from wearing these things around after a workout. You’re getting two great benefits for the price of one in that you are getting post exercise compression and icing which both have been shown to speed
recovery. I also enjoy going for my run without the shorts and just slipping them on when I finish so I can recover and ice down. The options that they give me are a very pleasant surprise that I did not anticipate.
Recently I went for a mid-morning run in the wonderful Texas heat which left me needing an ice bath to cool down properly. I turned the faucet to its coldest setting and filled the tub. During the winter this provides me with water that is almost too cold so I assumed the same would happen during the summer but I was wrong. I got into a lukewarm tub of water so I got back out and wound up pouring my entire ice bucket into it, and the water was still not cold enough to provide the cooling I needed. This is where the shorts have really been a huge benefit. The heat outside has made my tap water so warm that I do not have enough ice in my house to cool the tub down but the shorts don’t have this problem. The ice packs are perfect and when tucked into my shorts I get all the cooling I want any time I want. For such a simple idea I am extremely amazed and impressed with these shorts and their ability to keep me from having to buy a bag of ice every time I want to take an ice bath.
The shorts have proven to be an amazing addition to my growing arsenal of gear and I could not be more impressed with them. My first interest in them was to determine whether or not they were a gimmick and they have proven to be a serious asset instead. Compression has shown to give great benefits. Icing has shown to give great benefits. The two together is quite simply amazing with the benefits they yield and 110% Play Harder has created an ingenious product that I highly endorse.
Check out the full line at 110% Play Harder.
EDIT: There are more pockets than what are shown in the pics. I put ice packets in two places for an example only but you can literally wrap your entire leg in ice packs if you want to.
EDIT: Play Harder has also just recently released arm and elbow sleeves for those of you who are looking for some upper body cooling and/or compression.