As a long-distanced runner, I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a pair of compression tights. Who wouldn’t like clothing that improves performance and aids recovery?
I’m a natural sceptic and wondered whether the technology is worth the high price tag. Therefore, when offered the chance to review for free a pair of tights by SKINS, one of the market leaders in compression sportswear, I was happy to oblige.
SKINS definitely appeal to anyone’s inner geek. My pair of A400 Women’s Active Tights arrived in a smart dark box bearing the legend, ‘It’s equipment not clothing.’
Have a look on their website and it’s filled with the science behind the SKINS 400 series. They are so named because we apparently have 400 body touch points. Who knew? Me neither. But I’m willing to be educated.
SKINS claims the A400s are the only compression range designed by measuring the oxygen needs of active muscles in motion (rival brands only measure athletes standing still).
But would the very impressive blurb translate to an improved running experience?
I was immediately struck by how lightweight and seemingly insubstantial the tights were. Just how do they pack so much technology in?
Fit is crucial as extra muscle support is added to key areas including your ITB, TFL and knee to ensure maximum compression.
If like me, you’re pretty short, or alternatively pretty tall, you don’t want to find this support in the wrong place.
Online there’s plenty of information to help you to choose the correct size.
I chose medium, which did mean I had to readjust the tights over my knees a few times while running. Next time, I’d probably want to try both small and medium to check I’d make the right choice.
The fabric is super stretchy so despite fitting like a second ‘skin’, they are incredibly easy to get on. And once worn and after washing, they return nicely to their original shape. They look like they’ll wear well.
I was impressed by the fit and feel. They are incredibly sheer, but those of us with a few lumps and bumps would be pleased about how flattering they are to any shape.
The wider waist band is comfortable and sits (and remains!) nicely at the waist.
So the tights look and feel good, but how would they perform?
Compression tights are designed to improve blood flow, so delivering more oxygen to your muscles and preventing the build-up of lactic acid. They also minimise muscle vibration and reduce the risk of damage during times of fatigue. Therefore, they’re particularly good for endurance runners.
I wanted to make sure I gave them a proper road test, so totally selflessly decided to run the Windermere Marathon just for this review. (Well, ok, I was already signed up!).
I have to admit that these tights totally rock from a sheer comfort perspective.
As they’re so sleek with almost hidden seams, there’s reduced friction. I suffered no chaffing, feeling really good the whole way round. The ADAPTIVE Technology did regulate my temperature and the material wicked well.
I’d pretty confidently say the tights did provide additional support and stability to my muscles during the race, compared to standard tights. (I’ve never tried a rival brand so I can’t comment on how they compare with alternatives).
I didn’t have any niggles during the race and although my legs certainly suffered from the constant up and down-hill of the course, I had no cramp, muscle pain or excessive fatigue.
I was particularly interested to see whether the tights also reduced what is termed ‘delayed onset muscle soreness’ (i.e. the feeling that you can’t move a muscle a day or two after a long run).
I was not leaving this part of the research to chance – I continued to wear the tights for the journey home and (don’t laugh) I put them back on for my seven hours of sleep. (No honestly, other people do it too.) Now if the thought of wearing technical clothing to bed makes you grimace, you should have seen my husband’s face!
Although I did ache quite a bit the following day, by 48 hours after the race I had very low levels of muscle soreness. This could be due to a number of factors, including my tights, my excellent physiology (of course!) and the few miles of walking I built into my routine the day after my race.
But even if the tights contributed a small amount to this overall recovery time, I feel they would probably be worth the investment.
Now, I don’t have a twin who could run the same race on the same day at the same speed with normal tights, so there’s no control here. I’ll leave the science bit to the SKINS website.
However, I would say that anyone who covers plenty of miles and has the cash to spare should give the SKINS 400 Series serious consideration. The tights have definitively made me think that this is one technology that lives up to the blurb on the box.
*Disclaimer: This was a collaborative post with Skins and I was given the running tights in order to give an honest review. All words and opinions are my own.