It’s not that long ago that grown men wouldn’t be caught dead in a pair of tights. A few notable brands have changed this mentality, with heavy marketing campaigns and some research. In many countries, having athletes from a given national sport utilizing compression garments won a lot of people over. For Australia in particular, I’m certain it was the sight of rugby union, rugby league and AFL players in compression tights that prompted the subsequent sales boom.
Nowadays it’s hard to avoid people in compression garments. They are used by men and women runners, walkers, hikers, mountain bikers, nordic skiiers, road cyclists, people travelling long distances, plus virtually the full gamut of athletes. It’s generally accepted that a muscle under light compression does help reduce fatigue and circulation – and can enhance recovery too (a benefit enjoyed by cyclists via lycra shorts well before the current explosion in the compression sector).
Sugoi provided me with a pair of their Piston 200 tights, another part of their ‘Race + Recovery’ line. These are constructed in an entirely different way to their R+R Knee High sock. The biggest difference is in the material. The mix of 80 per cent Nylon and 20 per cent Spandex creates a strong yet thin and lightweight material that breathes well and wicks sweat. The stitching is flat locked for comfort, and the panels aim to isolate muscle groups to reduce their movement and decrease the chance of immediate muscle damage.
A lot of these things are highly relevant if you choose to use your tights for cross training like running – which is one of their intended uses. I don’t run. When I get off my bike in a race I may as well saunter, as I immediately start to lose ground to everyone else on their feet. As such, I haven’t run in these tights, rather I have used them in the evenings for recovery. The compression is meant to increase circulation, forcing blood back to the heart and improving the removal of toxins created during exercise.
Do they work?
Having used the R + R socks for some time now, the Piston 200 tights easily found their way into my daily routine. They stretch enough to pull on easily, and are certainly one of the lightest compression garments I have used. I could wear them comfortably, even in warm weather. This is a big concern, as overly warm compression garments have restricted my use of them in previous years. Pulling on tights that you will get sweaty in is not an appealing task if you have only just cleaned up after a murderously hard day on the bike. I have used them in the same manner as the socks, including sleeping in them from time to time. They do help create a fresher feeling, reducing the dead legs feeling when rolling out for a training ride in the morning.
Packed up, the tights take up little more room than the R+R Knee High socks – so they’re unlikely to cause too much concern for the travelling marathon or stage race rider. They have been comfortable to use in the early-summer temperatures that Sydney has been blessed with, and getting in and out of them doesn’t require skills in contortion. These haven’t been a life changing item of clothing – but I have no complaints about them. If you are keen to join the masses and get some compression tights for recovery, transit or corss training – try these. They will certainly be making it into my bag for the ABSA Cape Epic next March.