How to choose tights for running, and how they differ from leggings


Running tights are a must have in any runner’s wardrobe. They provide comfort and freedom of movement while running. What tights are for running and what to look for when choosing them, read in our article.

Tights, literally translated from English, can be understood as “tights”, because this is exactly what these running clothes look like: they fit your legs, thereby becoming your second skin. Fitted tights provide the runner with flexibility and freedom of movement.

Tights are sewn from elastic lightweight fabrics — polyester, nylon, spandex. In addition, these materials have waterproof and windproof properties, so these pants will quickly wick away moisture while remaining lightweight.

Polyester is the most common material for making sweatpants. All because of its properties: its fibers do not absorb water, the fabric dries quickly. The more durable nylon benefits from better sweat odor containment. The main requirement for the material: it must retain heat, remove moisture from the body and allow the athlete’s skin to breathe.

Features of running in tights
Advanced runners choose tights because:

they do not restrict movement;
allow the skin to breathe;
their form-fitting cut eliminates friction;
in them, at a moderate temperature, neither cold nor hot;
have a compression effect, that is, they support the muscles and protect them from microtrauma;
easy to care for: the material of the tights is easy to wash and dries quickly;
Regarding the last point, we want to bring an interesting fact. Research into how running tights provide an aerodynamic advantage has already been done. In 1986, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise published results that runners who wore tights or shaved their leg hair reduced wind resistance by 2%. It doesn’t seem like much, but that’s 5.7 seconds in a marathon, which for an elite level could mean a line on the scoresheet.

How tights differ from leggings
Before you go shopping for skinny pants, we want to point out that not all tights are tight. Often they are confused with leggings, but these are different wardrobe items. Tights are, let’s say, «advanced» leggings.

You can also wear leggings for a run, but they lack some of the advantages of tights:

do not have compression;
tight to a lesser extent;
They don’t have pockets for small items.
In general, leggings, unlike tights, are also worn in everyday life, but tights are intended only for sports. That is why leggings are produced in a wide variety of colors and prints. Leggings are also used as underwear in the cold season: you can wear them under trousers.

What are tights
The first difference between tights is their length. Models are up to the ankle, to the middle of the calf and to the knee. The choice here is made with an eye on the time of year. For running in winter, sportswear manufacturers produce insulated tights with wind protection. To keep warm, merino wool or microfleece is added to the sports synthetic fiber.

If the tights are not unisex, then the look and functionality of women’s and men’s tights will differ. The anatomical features of the body dictate the location of the ventilation zones.

How to choose tights depending on the season
As we wrote above, tights come in different lengths: short, medium and long. For hot days, purchase tights-shorts and pay attention to the presence of ventilation at the lower back. But for the autumn and winter season, look for long, insulated models. Of the long pants, the most comfortable will be those that have a zipper above the ankle for easier removal.

In autumn and spring, when there is no need for insulated tights, you can protect the pelvic area from temperature changes by wearing shorts or a running skirt over your pants.

You probably already realized that you can’t do without one pair of tights, because it is very important to choose clothes for the temperature. It is known that unheated muscles work worse and tire faster, and heat stress from elevated skin temperature worsens the aerobic performance of a runner.

If you run at night, tights with reflectors will be relevant for you.

Do tights have to be compression
Tights just differ from ordinary sweatpants in their compression characteristics. For athletes, this gives several advantages at once:

support for the muscles of the back and legs;
faster muscle recovery;
a decrease in the content of lactate in the blood;
the compression effect allows you to keep the muscles in good shape;
reducing the risk of stretching a particular muscle;
improvement of blood circulation and acceleration of blood flow;
good thermoregulation;
reduction in puffiness.
However, having appreciated all the benefits of compression, do not think that tights can be worn all the time. Constant wearing will have the opposite effect, and your blood vessels will lose their tone from pressure.

There are, by the way, contraindications to wearing compression pants. You should not use them if you have one of the following diseases: atherosclerosis, aortoarteritis, thromboangiitis obliterans, endoarteritis, and other circulatory disorders.

Recommendations for choosing tights for running
The fabric should take the shape of your body.
The elastic on the belt should be wide so as not to squeeze your stomach.
Pay attention to ventilation and don’t buy ones that don’t have mesh areas.
Tights with pockets for your phone, keys and small things will save you the headache of how to take it all with you so that it doesn’t shake or rattle in your jacket pocket. Tights have narrow pockets, and all things are well pressed against your body without disturbing you with noise or shaking.
For your safety, it is better to buy tights with reflective elements.
Tights with fasteners at the bottom are very convenient for competitions. Let’s say you are warming up in long pants and want to take them off a minute before the start, remaining in shorts alone. Thanks to the zippers at the bottom of the pants, you don’t have to waste time taking off your shoes and only then taking off your pants.


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