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This Month In Body
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  • Men in Tights
    The new rage among elite and amateur runners alike, compression tights claim to help you run farther, run faster, and prevent injury—all while making you look like you know what you’re doing. What’s the theory behind compression tights and do they really improve performance? You’re about to find out. Read >>
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Health and Fitness News

Men in Tights

What’s the big deal about compression tights?

If you were a serious runner and there was an article of clothing that could improve your running performance, you’d likely go out and buy it immediately. The new rage among elite and amateur runners alike, compression tights claim to help you run farther, run faster, and prevent injury—all while making you look like you know what you’re doing. If the claims are true, of course you’d want to own a pair or two.

What’s the theory behind compression tights and do they really improve performance? You’re about to find out.

Reduce Muscle Vibrations

When you run you no doubt feel your legs jiggle. Whether they jiggle a lot or a little, whether it’s fat or muscle, your legs vibrate when your feet hit the ground. And your leg muscles contract to reduce the amount of vibrations they make as you run. Exercise scientists hypothesize that these constant contractions speed muscle fatigue in distance runners. The answer to this potential run-shortening problem? Compression tights. Wearing compression tights is thought to slow muscle vibrations, thereby reducing fatigue and improving performance.
Improve Circulation

A second reason given for the purpose of compression tights is improved blood flow. As the tights gently squeeze your legs, veins are compressed and blood is pushed faster to your heart. Better circulation means oxygen is delivered to and waste products (such as lactic acid) removed from your muscles more efficiently. Similarly, doctors often prescribe a type of compression tights for people suffering from circulation problems or leg swelling.

Prevent Injury

When your muscles are warm, they’re less likely to get injured. This is a third benefit of wearing compression tights. They keep your leg muscles warm whether you’re running indoors or out. Warm muscles before you stress them makes the stress less likely to result in injury.

Reduce Air Resistance

Men with extra-hairy legs may like to wear compression tights to make their legs more aerodynamic. Without shaving your legs, could compression tights make you run faster, much like swim caps are used by swimmers to cut through the water with greater ease?

Specially Designed

For a good pair of compression tights you’ll pay more than one hundred dollars. Quality tights come with special compression panels that cover main muscle groups such as your calves, quads, hamstrings, lower back, and glutes. A good pair of tights will offer graduated or gradient compression that’s tighter on your lower leg and have less pressure on your thighs.

Some contain built-in UV sun protection or antibacterial material to prevent body odor. Most tights are made with fabrics designed to keep moisture away from your skin and prevent chaffing. Certain tights claim they’ll streamline your figure and lift your bottom.

If you’re looking to buy a pair of tights, make sure they fit snug but aren’t too constrictive. You should be able to easily bend your knees and do whatever activity you want to do.

The Research

Are you ready to order a pair of stylish compression tights today? Not so fast. While the idea behind trendy compression tights makes sense, the studies prove otherwise.

Nike funded a recent study in an effort to compare varying levels of compression on performance. Their findings were not what they expected. During the experiment, 20 male runners ran on a treadmill for 30 minutes on two different days. One day, the runners wore running shorts and the second day, some wore low-compression tights while others wore high-compression tights. They found that compression did reduce vibration, but neither type of tight reduced fatigue. In other words, wearing the tights did not help a single runner run longer or faster.

At the moment, however, further studies are needed. Perhaps compression tights are more beneficial for runs that last longer than 30 minutes. Maybe wearing tights after running speeds recovery and improves future performance. A one-time, short-term study may not tell the whole story, so keep your ears open and you may soon learn that those compression tights that are all the rage actually do offer the benefits they boast.

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