Scientific test reveals if compression tights help runners

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Scientific test reveals if compression tights help runners. Ali Gorman, Registered Nurse reports during Action News at 5 p.m. on June 1, 2017. (WPVI)

Many say compression tights help to reduce muscle fatigue so they can run longer. However, a new scientific test says they don't deliver on their claims. But that doesn't mean runners should toss them out.

During his first marathon, Matt Ithurburn learned how hard it is to push through those final miles.

So after hearing other runners rave about compression tights, he decided to give them a try.

"When I was wearing the tights, I did feel like I had better support, and that I wasn't getting as fatigued or like I had better endurance," Ithurburn said.

Researchers at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center say the theory is that the tights reduce vibrations when the muscles contract. And that helps preserve energy.

They put it to the test. A team monitored runners during high-intensity workouts, both with and without the tights.

Before and after each 30-minute run, doctors analyzed leg strength, and jumping height.

The doctors say the results surprised them.

"Even though there was that reduction in vibration, that didn't have any effect on their fatigue, their strength, their jump height, or any of those factors," Dr. Ajit Chaudhari said.

But he says although the science isn't there, runners shouldn't give up their compression tights if they make them feel better.

"Every little bit of perception counts. So I wouldn't say that's a placebo effect. That's a real effect, but it may not be an effect that we can actually even measure," Dr. Chaudhari said.

A big part of distance running is not just physical endurance, but also psychological endurance, and I think the tights kind of provided that a little bit.

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