Posted by: Joe Nuss on Jan 08, 2010
By Carolyn Gentry
The performance apparel market is saturated with compression wear making it confusing for athletes to decide what items they should buy. In searching the web for information, every manufacturer’s site oozes with research studies showing that their products provide the best compression to decrease fatigue, improve performance and enhance the speed of recovery.
I have been fortunate enough to be able to try out several brands of “compression” tights for myself. Coming from a medical background, I don’t need to be sold on the advantages of compression stockings/socks and tights in performance and recovery. I truly believe that any compression is better than none. However, until I ran in the CW-X Stabilyx tights from Wacoal Sports Science, I have honestly not had a noticeable benefit from one tight to another. Usually, the take-aways from all the brands had to do with the ease or difficulty in putting the tights on and their overall comfort. As far as the compression “factor” they all felt good and I liked having compression but were my legs really fresher and was I more efficient on the run? I couldn’t tell.
The CW-X Stabilyx tights are advertised as Stability Conditioning wear. Although the tight itself provides compression it has the added benefit of what they call the “kinesio-exoskeleton support web”. This conditioning web is strategically positioned to help stabilize the muscles and ligaments that support the knees, lower back, hips and quads. These panels of support mimic the placement of kineseo tape that a lot of athletes are using for the same supportive benefits of injury prevention and performance enhancement. Wacoal Sports Science, CW-X, is a company recently formed in the US, branching from the Wacoal Science Research Center in Kyoto, Japan. This research facility boasts of forty years of studying Kinesiology, the science of human movement. CW-X makes five different models of tights, each with a varying focuses of physical benefits. These tights range in price from $65 to $110. The CW-X website has a useful chart that will help guide you to which tight is the best for you. CW-X markets the Stabilyx tight as their best all-round stability tight.
My initial draw to the tight was the cool look. The compression parts of the tights are black but the kinesio webs come in different colors on different models. My second draw to the tight was that it was designed with a more specific purpose that just to provide “compression”. So, with these two things going for them, I was enticed to try the tights. The packaging actually comes with directions so that you can successfully align the support bands across the targeted ligament and muscle zones. Unlike some other brands, I found the tights very easy to put on. The support bands in the fabric crossed both below and above my knees and felt really good. On the upper thigh, the bands crossed around my quads and hamstrings and up to my lower back. The tight felt comfortably “tight”. So now that I knew they not only looked technically advanced but felt technically advanced, it was time to give them the true “road” test. Was I going to experience increased blood flow and decreased fatigue from the “gentle pressure” provided from the tights’ compression? Were my knees going to feel as if I had applied Kinesis tape in all the right places?
Wow, I loved them right away... and then even more as I was finishing up my run! Having been a runner since my early teens, my knees are not the greatest specimens of healthy cartilage and strength. The Kinesio stability felt excellent. I could actually feel the support and the assisted correct alignment of my ligaments and muscles. The firm support around my lateral quads and hamstrings felt really good. I felt a spring in my step, literally. Now, you can think that maybe I imagined that spring-like feeling but a friend of mine that tried the CW-X tights also said the first thing he noticed was a spring like feeling as he ran. Wacoal explains this sensation by describing the support in the upper leg areas as a “suspension system designed to reduce the workload in both the pull and push phase of the running motion resulting in a more efficient stride and fresher feeling legs”. The ¾ length tights fit me very well and for the first time in my “Capri” running attempts, I actually had a tight that stayed in place and did not ride up over my knees as I ran.
Some additional features of the tights are that they are warm enough to run in on 40 degree mornings but did not feel too warm for 70 plus days. For colder weather, they do come in an insulated version. All the CW-X tights are made with UV protection and have reflective stripes for safety. The waist has a draw string that I did need to tighten up to keep the tights in good position. The string began to fray after my second run in the tights so I recommend knotting the ends when first purchased. Two other runners that I know, that run in the tights, had problems with the tights sliding down a little as they ran. Both of these runners are male so maybe there is an issue with fit or as one of them said, maybe they didn’t pull the tights all the way up initially. The tights are designed to wear without anything underneath, just as a tri or cycling short. I found them comfortable and non-chafing. There is a small key pocket in the waist, and it is small! I would have preferred either no pocket or something a little bigger on the hip so that I could carry my phone with me.
In summary, I really like the CW-X Stabilyx ¾ length tights. I felt a difference in my legs compared to when I have run in other brands of compression products. I was especially pleased with the knee support I felt and the firmer support bands around my hips. If the tights gave my core or lower back supportive benefits, I did not notice. When I ran this morning, my CW-X tights were in the wash and I certainly missed them. I am definitely going to invest in a pair of the full length tights!
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