Elite athletes pay close attention to their race-day outfits — think of all those second-skin swimsuits you see during the Olympics — but do mere mortals need scientifically researched, carefully designed athletic gear? After trying on a pair of Opedix Knee-Tec Tights ($225), my answer: yes.
When kinetic health gear maker Opedix asked if I'd like to test out a sample of the pants, the promises of their compression technology instantly caught my eye. After developing runner's knee from training for a marathon earlier this year, I've been dealing with knee pain that occasionally flares up when I go on longer runs. The Knee-Tec running tights feature strategically placed compression panels that the company promises will give your joints support right where you need them and slow the onset of muscle fatigue, all based on years of research and design tweaks.
Science aside, even before I set out on a run in the leggings, however, I was hooked. They are incredibly soft and ridiculously comfortable, as well as flattering: designed to fit various body types, the leggings feature a higher waist, adjustable drawstring, and the compression panels create a slimming effect. There's also a roomy back zippered pocket for your cards and cash; I could even fit my iPhone 5 in it on short runs when I wasn't listening to music and didn't feel like strapping on an armband.
A great fit and supple fabric, however, isn't worth $200, so I was more interested in Opedix's claims of knee support. Pulling on these compression tights takes a few more seconds to ensure you're aligning the panels correctly; your kneecaps should be in the oval shape in the middle of the compression material, which provides all-around support. Afterward, however, you're in for a comfortable run; each time I tested these out, I was completely amazed at how little my knees hurt from just wearing these pants. You can feel the supportive panels around your knees, but they're never constricting; they provide just enough pressure to reassure you as you go deeper into your run.
Even though these leggings do just what they're designed to do (and incredibly well), I'll admit I was shocked by the hefty price tag. I usually use a knee brace or wrap when I feel like I need a little extra support — much cheaper, but not as comfortable or convenient. While the price may make many balk, I'd recommend them as a great investment if you run a lot and experience knee pain. With odor-fighting fibers and sweat-wicking technology, I was fine using these a couple times a week before they ended up in the laundry pile, and if you're training for a marathon, even wearing them just once a week on your long runs will make these tights worth the money. The Knee-Tec running tights are available in black with fuchsia stripe or black with mist stripe here; they are also recommended for other sports such as skiing, yoga, biking, Pilates, tennis, and golf.