Disclaimer: I purchased these tights with my own money and of my own accord. All opinions are mine. I did receive a discount, but that was unrelated to this review and is explained below.
If you’ve followed my blog, you know I was in a pretty serious bind a couple weeks before my first marathon. I was struggling with almost unmanageable pain in my IT band. I had to bail on my final long run halfway through and hitch a ride back to Rob’s place. After being forced to cut a tempo run short a few days later, I realized I was in trouble.
I did what I could when you can’t run with a marathon approaching quickly. I stopped running, started icing, and did everything I could to let my IT band heal before attempting to go out and run 26.2 miles on it. In my worry, I made an impulse purchase. Rob told me that a co-worker of his struggled with IT band pain a while back. This co-worker bought a pair of CW-X Stabilyx tights which were a silver bullet for his pain. I was willing to try anything at that point, so I ponied up the money and ordered a pair myself. These are an expensive pair of tights, retailing for about $90. I got them for a discount because I ordered them from Rob’s company, and I ended up paying around $50.
I faced a bit of a dilemma when deciding which size to order. I’m 5’10” and currently hovering around 130 pounds. This put me at five pounds lighter than a medium but three inches taller than a small on the size chart. I decided to go with the medium because at 5’10”, I was on even on the upper edge of the height range of medium. I think I chose the best size, but I’m not sure there was a right size for someone like me. Most of the reviews I read about the tights mentioned how difficult it was to get them on because they were so tight. I was expecting much more of a struggle to put them on. I don’t know if this was because mine were a little looser than ideal or because I’m used to putting on a wetsuit when most of the other reviewers weren’t. I suspect both of those factors were in play. However, after putting them on, I could tell that they were just long enough. It’s pretty clear where the knee is supposed to be, and if mine were much shorter, they would not have wrapped around the knee the way they should. So, if you are tall and underweight, finding the perfect fit may be difficult.
The CW-X Stabilyx tights are designed to support your joints and muscles. You can see from the photos how the seams run down the leg and surround the knee. The material in between the seams is thick and doesn’t have much give, whereas the rest of the tights are made with the typical, more forgiving running tights material. The effect of the webbing of support is a feeling that everything is being held in place. When I put these tights on for the first time, I felt more supported. They were also pretty comfortable too, and that’s saying a lot coming from me. I get very annoyed very quickly by things like tight clothing. Oh, and according to Rob, they make my hamstrings look “monstrous,” so that’s a plus too!
More importantly, how did they work? I’d like to note that I hardly did a scientific study when testing these tights out. I took over a week off running before I wore them for the first time to run a marathon. I was also doubled up on Advil and Tylenol during the marathon. I could feel the presence of my IT band pretty early on in the race, but it wasn’t pain. After a five or so miles, I did get some pain, but it was completely manageable and did not get worse throughout the run. During the runs I had to cut short because of my IT band pain, the pain eventually became a radiating jolt that originated in my knee but that I felt through my lower leg. The pain was perfectly manageable and actually got better during the later miles. Additionally, my knee didn’t stiffen up when I stopped for water or to walk which has happened in the past.
However, these tights were not a silver bullet for my IT band pain. It was wishful thinking to entertain the thought that they would be, but hope springs eternal and all that. After giving myself a rest after the marathon, I’ve started running again and have made sure to wear these tights for every run. I’ve also been wearing them when I work on my strength training to fix the underlying issues causing my pain. The first run, I got some IT band pain almost immediately and cut the run short. However, I didn’t have any follow-up pain post-run. The second run felt much better during the run, and I managed thirty minutes with very little pain. I do plan on wearing these compression tights during my runs for the foreseeable future—either until my knee stops hurting or it just gets too warm, whichever comes first.
These tights may not have been a magical cure (for me), but that doesn’t mean they are a bad product or that they don’t do their job. My lower body does feel more supported when I wear them, and I do think that they helped keep my IT band pain at bay during my marathon. Compression gear in general is a good tool to have in your training gear kit, and these tights are high quality compression gear. They are also very comfortable, despite the constriction that is a necessary part of their design. The color choices are great too. You can go with plain black or with a variety of more creative, colorful options.
Are they worth $90? Is any piece of running clothing worth $90? For this discount-hunter, probably not. I’m glad I didn’t pay $90 for them, but then, I’m not the type to just drop $90 on any piece of clothing. (Buying cycling gear is a… difficult process for me). However, they were well worth the discounted price that I paid. They are useful, pretty effective, and they are comfortable enough to wear regularly. That’s just about the dictionary description of a good piece of running gear.