Tights or shorts? Which brings you faster to the finish line?
Running usually requires very minimal gear other than shoes and clothing. This makes choosing the right equipment equally important as it gives the athlete extra competitive advantage and improved comfort and ability.
While many focus on getting the right pair of running shoes, you should also pay attention to the garment, especially the bottom piece. This usually comes in two varieties: the conventional running shorts or the newly developed compression tights. Although some are still skeptical about trying new technology, weighing the benefits of one over the other can help us discern which works best for us.
Fabric and function
Running shorts are made of loosely-fitting fabric that doesn’t restrict movement. These are usually made of polyester and nylon with a moisture-wicking liner that helps prevent sweat buildup by drawing it off the skin to the outside of the fabric.
Compression tights on the other hand are constructed in spandex—a resilient fabric that stretches easily to fit snugly across the skin. This helps hold muscles tightly to increase blood circulation in the legs.
Fit and comfort
Traditional running shorts or track shorts allow a full range of movement for a runner’s stride. Some feature a split at the side to prevent further restriction. However, these fit loosely and make the athlete more susceptible to chafing, which occurs when the fabric moves and rubs against the skin during the run.
Compression tights help alleviate muscle soreness and speed up recovery time. This gives the athlete the ability to run harder and longer after each training session or race.
Loosely-fitting running shorts are more susceptible to catching pockets of wind, which hinder performance by creating drag while running.
Compression tights create a streamlined profile that allows more fluid movement and increased muscle efficiency. It helps minimize drag during runs and decreases muscle oscillation or the vibration of the muscles in the legs due to repetitive impact.
Our final thoughts
Compression tights are relatively more expensive than conventional running shorts due to their construction and features. However, its overall benefit can easily tip over the hesitation of traditionalists to give it a try. Dress for success on race day. Ultimately, it’s best to embrace new garment technology that promotes total comfort and performance, one that gives less distraction and more focus on pacing and stride.