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The Best Compression Tights to Boost Running and Recovery

Give hardworking muscles a healthy squeeze with these form-fitting performance tights.

boost running and recovery with these new compression tights
Runner's World; Courtesy Girlfriend Collective

Editor's Note: Updated June 24, 2022. We updated this piece to remove products that were out of stock and added a new product that received stellar reviews from customers.

If you’ve ever tried compression tights (or socks, or sleeves, for that matter), you know that they can feel a) like a nice, supportive hug, or b) like you're trying to squeeze into a slim-cut pair of jeans right after they come out of the dryer. Needless to say, one is much more enjoyable than the other. And yes—we know that these garments are designed to be tight (to help increase blood flow to your muscles), but they’re also supposed to make you feel better while (and after!) you run, so it’s important to find pairs that are supportive without being super uncomfortable. Since it can be difficult to find quality clothing online, we did the heavy lifting for you.

Read on for a quick guide to help you determine just how big—or little—a squeeze you might want on your next run. Or keep scrolling for our list of top-performing pairs, no matter what level of compression you’re looking for—or what price you’re willing to pay for it.

Although experts haven’t yet reached a consensus on whether or not wearing compression tights will actually yield better fitness results, we think there are enough compelling studies and positive runner reviews to allow you to confidently add any of these styles to your workout wardrobe.

The Best Compression Tights

What to Consider

Function

So why buy compression tights, you ask? Unlike joggers or other pants with a looser fit, these are designed to apply a healthy squeeze to your leg muscles and glutes, which helps circulate blood away from your legs and back to your heart. The added pressure should also help keep your muscles steady and reduce vibrations as you run. In theory, you’ll be exerting less energy this way, which gives you more power to tackle the task at hand. Another bonus: they’re often thicker (with reduced air flow) than regular tights, which naturally helps keep your legs warmer when running in cold weather.

Fit

The definition of compress is literally to squeeze or apply pressure. So, when brands use the term “compressive fit” to describe a garment, they mean it’s going to be tighter than normal. Think skintight, otherwise, your circulation will not be affected at all. With that said, you don’t want them so tight that they restrict your movement. The material—ideally a combination of spandex and polyester—will stretch, but only so far. For the most part, you should be able to tell whether or not the fit is right once you put them on. Don’t overthink it.

Breathability and Comfort

Again, while these tights bring the added benefits of compression, the bottom line is that if you’re not comfortable, you’re not going to perform—or recover—any better than usual. Your tights should be tight, but not too tight. And if you’re not going out hard, then you won’t need as much of a squeeze to help you recover after. You should ultimately look for the same elements you would normally look for in a solid pair of running tights: moisture-wicking fabric, breathability, softness, good pockets and, depending on when/where you’ll be running, sun protection and/or extra warmth.

How We Selected

The idea behind compression, which essentially squeezes your lower body in all the right places (glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves) while you run, is to improve your circulation and reduce muscle vibrations. There are varying levels—some are tighter, more effective, and truly less comfortable than others, but they all have potential benefits. We set out to find a good mix of compression tights that could serve everyone—from runners who are seeking major muscle support to those who just want to feel a bit more stable while they stride. Below are our top picks.

Looking for more compression? Check out our favorite picks for compression socks.

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Best Overall
Zensah
Recovery Tight
Best for Long Runs
CW-X
Endurance Generator Joint & Muscle Support Compression Tight
Best for Stretching
Athleta
Women’s Salutation Stash Pocket II Tight
Best Bargain Buy
CompressionZ
Compression Pants
Now 40% off
Best for Boosting Energy
Under Armour
Men's UA RUSH™ Seamless Leggings
Best for Chilly Morning Runs
Tracksmith
NDO Tights
Best for Reducing Lactic Acid Buildup
2XU
Compression Tights
Most Inclusive
Girlfriend Collective
Antler Compressive High-Rise Legging
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