How To Choose Compression Wear That Fits

Just tuning in for our compression coverage? This, the final part of our three-part series, focuses on how to choose compression tights that are right for you. If you'd like to learn more about compression first, read part 1 (Compression 101) and part 2 (The Benefits of Compression).

Use code COMPRESSION15 in the checkout to get 15% off all 2XU items! Click on over to 2XU Men's and 2XU Women's to view our current compression selection.

How tight is tight?

As mentioned in part 1, compression tights are not like a normal pair of leggings. They are trickier to pull on to start with, and also to get them off around the ankle and foot afterwards, given the lower leg is where the compression is greatest. Often when people first try them on, they wrongly assume they need to move up a size, but whilst this may feel more comfortable and familiar, it can often undermine the benefits of the compression.

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The size you choose should be based on your weight and height, not on typical sportswear measurements. Below are the 2XU size guides based on this for women and men. If you are borderline between two sizes, opt for the smaller size to ensure you get the benefits. While you might feel a bit squished, the added benefit is they are super flattering!

For women

Discover our range of Compression Leggings Women's

For men

Discover our range of Compression Leggings Men's

In terms of getting the appropriate levels of compression to deliver the benefits, all the 2XU gear we stock is tested using the Salzmann Pressure Measurement Device to ensure the correct mmHg ratings. This is the same testing process used in medical compression. This means the correct pressure is applied in the right areas, with the defined pressure applied at the lower limb, and the graduated compression meaning pressure decreases from bottom to top, promoting blood flow from the lower extremities back up to the heart.

Here's a list of our compression products with their respective mmHg ratings:

MA3062b/WB3064b Elite MCS Compression Tight 21-23
MA1936b/ WA1937b Elite Compression Tight 20-22
MA4476b Accelerate Compression Tight 17-20
WA 2864b Midrise Compression Tight 17-20
MA2442e/WA2443e Compression Performance Run Sock 25-30
MA3575e/WA3576e 24/7 Compression Sock 22-27

What should you use compression tights for?

The obvious sports are running and other high intensity activities, and these are where you will see the greatest benefits, but increasingly people are wearing compression for lower impact activities as well. 2XU is also moving in the direction of more sport specific compression with its MCS (Muscle Containment Stamping) range, adjusting support depending on the dynamics of movement of different sports – for example introducing a new Cross-Fit MCS tight from Autumn Winter 16 onwards.

Which 2XU tights or socks should I choose?

In terms of socks, there are two main choices:

1. For long haul travel, or for recovery purposes only, then choose the 24/7 socks for men or women

2. For running, opt for the Performance compression socks for men or women

For tights/leggings, there are two main 2XU categories, Standard Compression and Elite MCS. The main differences with the Elite MCS are a higher denier, greater pressure (as seen the table above), and MCS muscle stamping – this is a fabric support system traced over key muscles and tendons, designed to focus compression and further reduce muscle oscillation and damage. Some women in particular aren’t keen on the aesthetics of this muscle mapping, so the choice may also come down to visuals vs. performance. 2XU Standard Compression tights still deliver appropriate graduated compression.

Check out our compression selection: Women's Compression | Men's Compression

What about the waistband?

The other consideration in the women’s range is on the waistband, with 2XU introducing a new mid rise waistband in 2015 in addition to the traditional waistband with a drawstring tie built in. The mid rise waistband has become increasingly popular with customers using the leggings for a wide variety of activities, whilst the traditional waistband remains popular with runners who want the security of a drawstring.

Winter Running

The other compression options from 2XU for winter running are HYOPTIK tights (and other garments), with reflective logos to make sure you stay visible when running in low light conditions. These come in both standard and thermal brushed backed versions.

Is compression a fad?

Whilst there is work still do to validate all the claims made about the benefits of compression, and in particular there is some inconsistency in the effects on performance across studies, there is now adequate evidence of a protective and recovery effect against muscle soreness and damage. There is real science behind the compression trend, and it isn’t a passing fad.

2XU in particular is making some brilliant compression products that keep getting better. They will help you recover faster, and hence train harder. They might even give you a slight performance benefit, even if it is only through making you feel faster. They aren’t a cure all, and don’t expect miracles, but there really is a place for compression garments in any athletes’ wardrobe.

Feeling inspired to get compressed?

Use code COMPRESSION15 in the checkout to get 15% off all 2XU items!

Click on over to and to view our current compression selection.