Those in the market for a pair of compression tights may feel overwhelmed by the multitude of different options. Thus, determining which ones suit your needs the best can be intimidating if not daunting.
Read on for a quick guide on how to determine just how big—or little—a squeeze you might want on your next run. Or keep scrolling for our list of top-performing pairs, no matter what level of compression you’re looking for.
Although experts have yet to reach a consensus on whether or not compression tights will actually yield better exercise results, some compelling studies paired with countless consumer testimonies make the purchase worthy of consideration for anyone passionate about fitness.
Given their popularity, there is plenty of variety for both first-time buyers and those who wear a different pair each day of the week. From style and feel to goals and workout, everyone ought to consider how tight they want these pants to fit before ordering.
Those who’ve never owned a pair can be forgiven for wondering whether or not they are really worth it. After all, anyone who wants more covering over their legs while running can buy some cheap sweatpants, right? Compression tights address more than just warmth.
By applying a healthy squeeze to the leg muscles and glutes, the tights help squeeze blood away from your legs and back to your heart. The added pressure should also help keep your muscles steady and reduce vibrations as you run. In theory, you’ll be exerting less energy this way, which gives you more power to tackle the task at hand.
The definition of compress is literally to squeeze or apply pressure. So, when brands use the term “compressive fit” to describe a garment, they mean it’s going to be tighter than normal. Think skin tight, otherwise, your circulation will not be affected at all. With that said, you don’t want them so tight that they restrict your movement. The material, ideally a combination of spandex and polyester, will stretch, but only so far. For the most part, you should be able to tell whether or not the fit is right once you put them on. Don’t overthink it.
Breathability and Comfort
Yes, these tights bring the added benefits of compression, but the bottom line is that if you’re not comfortable, you’re never going to perform—or recover—any better than usual. Your tights should be tight, but not too tight. And if you’re not going out hard, then you won’t need as much of a squeeze to help you recover after. You should ultimately look for the same elements you would normally look for in a solid pair of running tights—moisture-wicking, breathability, softness, good pockets and, depending on when/where you’ll be running, sun protection and/or extra warmth.
How We Chose
The idea behind compression, which essentially squeezes your lower body in all the right places (glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves) while you run, is to improve your circulation and reduce muscle vibrations. There are varying levels—some are tighter, more effective, and truly less comfortable than others, but they all have potential benefits. We set out to find a good mix of pairs that could serve everyone—from runners who are seeking major muscle support to those who just want to feel a bit more stable while they stride. Below are our top picks.