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You’ve heard of compression: The bandage-like therapy stockings that doctors prescribe for grandma’s swollen ankles and physical therapists recommend for neuromuscular feedback. The concept is now taking a decidedly sexy leap into the gym bag of athletes, both amateur and professional. Meet the performance enhancing running gear with a cult following: CW-X’s Stabilyx tights. These are not your grandma’s edema stockings. If you’re not convinced about the coolness of compression, they’ve put two X’s in the title to prove it.

The Stabilyx has a Spiderman-like design—its webbing stabilizes the knee and supports the lower abdominals, cuing proper alignment. The downside: you can’t slip them on like sweats; instead you have to roll them on like stockings. (You’ll need to score a bench in the locker room for this.)

The compression helps performance by encouraging better form, but it also encourages a boost in blood flow to the area. That helps with lactic acid build-up, which improves recovery time, explains Danielle Napolitano, a physical therapist of Finish Line Physical Therapy in the Flatiron—and a marathoner. “You delay some lactic acid build up, which then delays fatigue and soreness, therefore you can run longer.” Some studies show that tights can make you go faster, says Napolitano, who swears by her Stabilyx tights. When she ran the Manhattan half marathon yesterday she was wearing her trusty pair.

“CW-X leggings feel like they are supporting your body and that helps decrease misalignments. So if your femurs have a tendency to internally rotate, these leggings will encourage better alignment. There’s a supporting feeling that helps people run better. I definitely see a difference in my own running,” says Napolitano.

Since the compression principle benefits performance, CW-X has woven the concept into gear for other sports, like skiing and biking. But we were amused to learn the brand is also the athletic arm of Wacoal, the intimate apparel company that knows a thing or two about support and making sure nothing jiggles.

Where to pick up a pair: The Stabilyx tight retails for about $100. Shop in-store at Jack Rabbit or Paragon Sports, or order a pair on-line at Zappos.

Have you ever tried compression tights? Did they improve your performance or recovery? Tell us about your experience, here!

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