Every runner struggles with the question, compression wear or no compression wear? We look at the prices of the top brands and ask ourselves is it really worth it, do they really give you any benefit or it is just hype. Compression wear and CW-X in particular have been a game changer for me. As an athlete and coach I had seen athletes wearing compression wear, I dismissed the benefits and stuck to my traditional long underwear and tights for years. It was not until this past year when moving into longer workouts and running seriously that the benefits of compression wear and CW-X became apparent to me. The next step was finding the right pair! I have been fortunate enough in the last year to be supported by CW-X and been able to try out most of their products so after spending weeks and months in their product I finally feel able to adequately review and report on them.
For those that may have never heard of CW-X Conditioning Wear they are the makers of the compression tights, tops, socks and bras that have the funny stitching and look sort of like something from Tron. At least that’s how I use to describe it. In reality they are part of the Wacoal Corp based out of Japan originally focusing on making intimate apparel. In 1991 they jumped into the sports apparel arena and more recently entered the US marketplace. What makes their product different? They have a team of researchers and scientists behind each piece of apparel. What does a team of scientist give you? Well basically they studied the way we move and how our body works and combined that knowledge with the knowledge they previously had on fabrics to bring “anatomically-engineered high performance sports apparel.”
What does all this mean for you and me, basically what we get is support! I have struggled my whole life with bad knees, years of ski racing and getting one too many lacrosse balls shot at my knees has left some damage at a young age. When I got back into running this was a concern of mine. I can say once I started to run in CW-X I pretty much can’t run without it now!
I have been lucky enough to try several pairs of the CW-X tights under some extreme conditions. I have run, ski, hike, climb, swim, jump over fire, crawl, and do a whole lot of other things the Japanese scientists certainly never envisioned them for. As I have several hanging to dry at the moment. I take a moment to write about the top three types I have used and continue to use. When ordering the tights the most important thing is to make sure you order a pair that fits. An ill fitting pair will find you constantly pulling up your tights during a run. When in doubt I found go a little smaller!
The Revolution tights are the on higher end price wise, mostly because they are 14% lighter than the rest of the family of compression wear. “The Revolution Tights feature the new EXO-Lite Seamless Support Web, the latest and most advanced evolution of the patented CW-X Support Web. The EXO-Lite Seamless Support Web is anatomically built to provide extra support, stability and shock absorption to the knees, hips, quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes and lower back.” So basically these tights will support you everywhere. I wore these for my first ultra. I personally like the extra weight and feel of some of the other tights better but as a recovery tight these are my favorite. I love wearing these around the day after a hard run or hike and find that they are great to slip on under a pair of jeans when you need the extra support after a long run.
I am fortunate enough to have two pairs of Stabilyx tights and also have them in the insulator series (winter). These are the tights I snowshoe and run in all winter. I also ski and pretty much do all active activity in them. These support the knees and core a ton and are extra helpful with lateral movement, think skiing or jumping. “The patented CW-X Support Web™ bands together the muscles and ligaments of the lower leg to stabilize the knee and reduce vibration for increased efficiency. The CW-X Support Web™ also harnesses the midsection, supporting the lower abdominals, hips and back to channel power through the core. Variable compression facilitates circulation during and after activity, minimizing lactic acid build-up so that you can be active longer and recover faster.” Basically what it means in my training is I can go longer and harder with less fatigue. As far as fit I find these pairs stay put some of the best of all the tights I have. They are one of my goto’s for any workout.
My first pair of CW-X were the Pro tights and really are a first love of mine. I still remember heading out for the first run in them and it felt like some bright light had shown down on my running. I could describe them but the company really does the best job. “The CW-X Pro Tights unite the major joints of the leg to offer optimum muscular support for activities with linear movement, such as running and Nordic skiing. The patented CW-X Support Web™ brings the hips, knees and ankles into proper alignment, reducing impact and load to the legs. The CW-X Support Web™ also creates a suspension system for the hamstrings and quadriceps, reducing workload in both the pull and push phase of the running motion. Combined with targeted variable compression to increase circulation and reduce fatigue, your muscles don’t have to work as hard over time and your legs will feel fresher.” If you have had IT band problems these helped me A LOT.
It rarely goes a day where I do not have on one of my CW-X tops. They have become an integral part of my workout wardrobe. Not only are they comfortable and warm but also perform.
INSULATOR WEB TOP
As much as I love the CW-X tights it is the tops that I am really in love with. My favorite part of my workout wardrobe are my insulator tops. I have both the web top and the non-web top. These are the perfect base layer for running or skiing. I literally wear these everyday! You don’t feel the pull of the web in the tops as much as the bottoms but it is there after a day of skiing or lifting strange objects. The technology behind it, “The CW-X Support Web™ uses kinesiology-taping technology to create an exoskeletal support system. It specifically targets the trapezius muscles and scapular bones of the upper back for improved posture and more controlled movements in the arms and shoulders.
I have a couple of the ventilator tops and used one for the GORUCK Challenge during which I wore the top for over eleven hours of carrying a back with over thirty-five pounds in it. These tops off the same technology of the insulators but the fabric let’s it breathe more. They are a great layer when the weather is warmer and less layers are needed. I have both the long and short sleeve tops.
The ventilator support top is also in the ventilator family. It is one of my favorites for yoga but can withstand the impact of running and more rigorous activity. The back is mesh paneled with is great for when you are sweating it out in class. It offers the best of their bra technology as well as the coverage you want if running in a city.
Ok all men who read this post can skip on down to the bottom but for the ladies, this might be one of the most critical sections. I must say before I begin I was not blessed with an over abundance in this department in fact a quote from the movie Bend it Like Beckham comes to mind about mosquito bits and juicy mangos. Me not having the latter. So these bras are designed more for the more full woman than I am but still are great for even us smaller ladies. In all seriousness CW-X cares about boobs and they even proclaim to treat them as individuals. Instead of talking about each individual bra the important factor is the technology. The Mesh Support Bra and Ventilator Support Bras are my personal favorites!
“All CW-X Support Bras feature the 5-point inner cup Targeted Support Web™, designed to reduce the initial upward bounce of breasts in motion. The Targeted Support Web is composed of five interconnected inner cup straps that work in concert with the shoulder and base straps to create a soft suspension system that is comfortable yet highly supportive. The Sport Support Bra is a great choice for all-around use, while for warm-weather activities, the Mesh Support Bra and Ventilator Support Bra offer extra breathability and cooling.”
CARE OF YOUR TIGHTS
Ok this is an important one, once you have put the investment into a good pair of CW-X Compression Tights you want to make sure that they last. Especially if you are an obstacle racer which basically everyone that reads this blog is. So how can you minimize damage to them. My suggestion if you are REALLY concerned about a tiny hole in them then just train in them. That being said I also believe in Train like you Race, Race like you Train quote and like to race and train in the same equipment and gear.
Otherwise, here are a few tips I have learned along the way. A tiny hole from a crawling through some barbed wire is NOT going to ruin a pair of tights. I wore them at World’s Toughest Mudder and Spartan Race World Championships and are still wearing those pairs today. However, if you are going to go for a “hike” or better yet a bushwhack in the woods for a couple hours it might be a good idea to have another pair of tights or other pants on top. Unfortunately, after carrying a sandbag up a mountain through thick brush one of my pairs of tights became a casualty. Lesson learned now I just have another pair of warm-ups or long bike tights over them. Problem solved.
Overall, I love all my CW-X products and their support of me has been and continues to be pivotal in my performance and success. I was skeptical at first if their tights would actually “do” anything when I wore them, and for years laughed them off as a gimmick. Well here I am a year later eating a major dose of humble pie. I can say they are not a gimmick and do in fact help with performance and as a friend says, “all the crazy shit” I do. So for me I will be in CW-X for years to come out there finding new ways to push the limits.