Do Running Tights Slow You Down?

Do running tights slow you down?

Do running tights slow you down during a run? Low-quality tights might make you lag a little, but not enough where most people would notice. Let’s learn more.

When I first started running, I didn’t even consider using running tights. To me, they seemed hot, and since getting hot was one of the main things that kept me from running, I just avoided them. My friends who lived up north and frequently ran in the snow, however, swore by them.

So, do running tights slow you down? Running tights are meant to reduce friction and irritation, but they can also become hot and irritating. With that said, a quality pair of running tights that are well-fitting should not slow you down; they may even boost your performance. 

Let’s explore more. You might also be interested in our explainer on are leggings bad for circulation.

Friction

Do running tights slow you down?
Tights could actually increase the speed of a runner

The main purpose of running tights is to reduce friction. As a person runs, their thighs will tend to rub together. This is often the case regardless of a person’s size.

Many people run, pointing their toes slightly towards their body’s center, forcing the upper leg to turn slightly inwards. The result is that the thighs will rub together.

Running tights are supposed to reduce the chafing this causes by providing a fabric barrier between the legs. Well-made running tights are constructed of very smooth fabrics that have a lower coefficient of friction than bare skin. That means that well-made running tights could actually increase the speed of a runner because the resistance from friction would be slightly lower.

How Do Running Tights Create More Friction?

How do running tights create more friction?
That creates extra force working against the forward momentum you create while running, which could slow a runner down

In most cases, good running tights will also help to reduce chafing. But, if the material is not made correctly, or if it has started to pill or wear out, there can be a lot more friction caused by the running tights.

While even cheaply made or worn-out running tights can help to prevent chafing, they will also likely increase the friction between your legs. That creates extra force working against the forward momentum you create while running, which could slow a runner down.  

However, the odds that this would be noticeable are very low. The difference in friction between running tights with rough fabric and bare skin is minimal. For most runners, there will be hardly any perceivable difference. Check out our guide on are yoga pants good for running

Weight And Heat

Are you supposed to wear underwear with running tights?
Many running tights are made of fabrics that wick moisture away from the body

There are a number of runners who claim that the problem with running tights is that they’re uncomfortable. Let’s face it; running tights are another layer of fabric that a runner has to wear. If you’re already running in a warm climate, running tights can make you feel even hotter, meaning you won’t be able to perform your best. 

Because of this, many running tights are made of fabrics that wick moisture away from the body. While some of these fabrics will work as advertised, it’s important to realize that sweating is only one way the body has to cool itself down. Heat itself will still be trapped by the running tights.

Dark-colored tights will also absorb heat from the surrounding environment. This will further degrade the body’s ability to release heat. To reduce this, consider using tights that only go to the knees or mid-thigh. Light-colored or white tights will also help to release heat rather than absorb it from the surrounding environment.

Of course, if you are frequently running in a colder climate, the ability to retain heat may be a good thing. Being warm can help some runners to activate the muscles in their legs, potentially helping them to run faster.