Confession: I despise pantyhose and actively avoid situations requiring them. So it’s no surprise that when I picked up a tube of compression tights, all of my pantyhose anxiety came rushing back. The unstoppable runs and ever present fear of poking a finger nail through the nylon is just too much to bear. This is why pants were invented.
But looking snazzy for a job interview has never improved my leg soreness or made me faster on the bike. Zoot claims that just by wearing their recovery tights, you can decrease lactic acid by 29% and perceived effort by 25%. Now I’m pay attention. Pass the plastic egg.
I’ve used the CompressRX recovery tight for three months both actively while cross country skiing and post-bike workout. When I first put them on, there was tingling. Then my overworked muscles developed a few gentle twinges and spasms. Once I got over the sausage casing feeling, I started to enjoy the sensations. Zoot claims to stabilize each muscle through varying levels of compression. This graduated compression helps bring fresh blood to muscles while moving blood back to the heart.
Cross country skiing always kicks my butt hard. The addition of compression tights, however, significantly decreased the soreness and heaviness I otherwise felt the following day or two. The same is true after a challenging bike ride. To me, that’s reason enough to pull on a pair of tights. It’s also important to note that the CompressRX tights are specifically made for use during activity. I’ve used them both during and after exercise and achieved similar positive results.
Between several rounds in the washing machine and frequent tugging and pulling, the tights remain in good condition and seem to hug as tightly as the day I got them. I haven’t worn them in summer yet, but they feel very cool and quickly wick moisture away.
In general, compression wear is very customizable. If you’re not comfortable squeezing into a pair of tights, or if you don’t have trouble with hip or glute soreness, consider a cheaper calf, sock, or partial leg sleeve instead. Zoot even makes a compression short with a chamois.
These puppies will do more than squeeze your legs, they’ll also squeeze your wallet. Retailing for $120, these are more of an investment than an impulse buy. To make the most of your purchase, be sure to try them on first. Tightness is key and Zoot bases its sizing on several different leg and height measurements. Keep in mind any seasonal weight changes when choosing the correct size, and if you’re between two sizes, go down a size.
There still isn’t much sound research to back up the benefits of compression gear, and many experts claim that most of the benefits are due to the placebo effect. Cycling Coach Joe Friel does a nice job of compiling the latest research in this blog post.