TLDR: Compression tights may cause excruciating knee pain.
First of all this is NOT scientific, its an anecdote with a sample size of one but as I think you will see, its worth being suspicious.
After biking 100km from Melbourne to Sydney in March, then coming home and hitting the hexbar squats really heavy back in April I had some really terrible knee pain that kept me from being able to even walk. After the weight lifting was removed, I found that I could bike and run pain free and I have been doing that regularly since then. I have been biking up “my” mountain two to three times a week since May with no recurrence of my knee pain.
Wednesday it was freezing here so I thought I would wear my compression tights although I had never worn them biking before. These had been mistakenly put in the dryer on hot so not only were they compression but they were now a size too small. No biggie, I just wiggled and pulled my way into them. It was nice to be warm but 1/3 the way up the mountain I noticed taht my knee was starting to hurt but I ignored it because it could not be happening. By the time I was 2/3 the way up the hill, it was getting really bad and I had to decide which was the shortest way back. After checking the map, decided that going forward was about the same as going back so I just kept going. By the time I was on the ridge, the pain was crippling. I had to unclip my left leg and pedal with right leg only – it was that bad. If I had cellphone coverage I would have called uber for a ride home. Anyway, I make it home pedaling with one leg and kiss the floor when I arrive.
So today, two days later, I bike again but this time without tights and my knee is completely fine. Then it hits me, either that was the worlds weirdest and least likely coincidence or the tights were responsible for my knee pain. Its not that far fetched, here is why.
Knee taping for knee pain
Physical therapists tape clients knees all the time to help them avoid pain.Above is an example of the kind of knee taping I am talking about. Really tight compression pants definitely apply pressure on the kneecap since it sticks out so in essence, its acting like uncontrolled taping. If good taping can cure knee pain, it stands to reason that bad knee taping could cause knee pain.
So anyway, if you have knee issues and run, bike, skate, or do legs you might want to error on the side of caution and either use traditional loose fitting sweats or non-compression tights which to not apply any pressure at all to the knee cap.