Are Leggings Bad For Your Circulation? 3 Safety Tips

Are leggings bad for your circulation? Research on this topic is scarce, but as long as leggings aren’t too tight, they’re not bad for your circulation. 

If you do a Google search for “Are leggings bad for your circulation?” you will find conflicting information. The short answer is that leggings aren’t bad for circulation. However, a few factors come into play. 

The available literature on whether or not leggings are good for your health and blood flow is hard to make sense of at a glance. So what does a discerning consumer and runner do? Well, let’s explore all the available information and try to develop a well-researched response. 

Leggings Have Minimal Effect On Circulation

Are leggings bad for your circulation
Runners wearing compression garments didn’t report increased exertion

What if it doesn’t matter whether or not you wear correctly-fitted leggings? In a study published by Scientific World Journal, researchers noted these conclusions for women wearing compression clothing while running.

  • For nonathletic women running in a thermoneutral environment, compression leggings had no effect on hemodynamic parameters, including heart rate, blood pressure, tissue oxygenation, and leg blood flow. 
  • Compression leggings increase the skin’s temperature, but this didn’t affect sensations, running performance, or the modulation of the hemodynamic response. 
  • Runners wearing compression garments didn’t report increased exertion. 
  • There was no effect on comfort levels or sweating in the study participants. 

Based on this study, it seems that the answer to “Are leggings bad for your circulation” is a hard no. In short, if leggings are comfortable for you and you want to wear them, go for them. The key is to choose well-fitted leggings that aren’t too tight. 

When Leggings Are Bad For Circulation

There’s a solid litmus test you can use to determine if the leggings you wear are cutting off your circulation. If your legs feel tingly or numb after a couple of hours of wearing your leggings, they’re too tight. To avoid this discomfort, ensure you’re buying leggings that fit you correctly. 

Correctly fitted leggings shouldn’t restrict your movements in any way. If leggings or any pants are too tight, they can be uncomfortable. You have to choose leggings that fit properly.

How To Safely Wear Leggings 

A woman checking on her leggings
The fabric used to make your leggings should be stretchy but not overly elastic

While there are plenty of benefits to wearing leggings, the research we referenced above noted that after considerable study, the determination was that leggings don’t have much of an impact on circulation. If you want to wear leggings, go ahead and do that. Here are some tips to safely wear leggings when running. 

  • Choose snug but not overly tight leggings: You should be able to get your foot through the leg hole easily. 
  • Material and fabric matter: The fabric used to make your leggings should be stretchy but not overly elastic. Both spandex and cotton leggings are a good choice, and they will maintain their shape over time. Learn more in our explainer on what are leggings made of.
  • Consider a wider waistband: The traditional small waistband of leggings can feel a bit more restrictive. Instead, go with leggings such as yoga leggings that have a wider band at the waist. 

How To Make Leggings Fit Correctly

Because they’re usually so comfortable (if fitted correctly), leggings are a popular choice for running or even just relaxing at home. There are two main types of leggings:

  • Compression leggings
  • Athleisure leggings

To fit correctly, leggings should feel snug across the thighs, buttocks, and calves. The waistband should fit comfortably. You don’t want to have to be constantly pulling them up.

Alternatively, if leggings leave a mark on your skin when you remove them, they’re too tight. 

Follow these best practices for finding leggings that are a good fit for what you need. 

  • Do lunges and squats when trying on leggings: Get a good idea of how the leggings will feel when you’re being active while wearing them. Once you’ve bought your leggings, you can also do squats and lunges to make them comfortable and just loose enough. 
  • Wash your leggings in warm water: When you wash your leggings in warm water, the fabric becomes softer and more flexible. This means the leggings will hug your body well and fit better. 
  • If you buy leggings with soles, you can cut them off: Some running leggings come with soles, so they’re similar to tights. If your leggings are too tight, you can cut off the soles so that the leggings fit you better. 
  • Try different styles: If you buy a pair of leggings that are not working for you, don’t be afraid to try different brands or styles. Learn more in our yoga pants vs. leggings guide.