The Best Running Compression Shorts Reviewed
These products have been around for years, but they have recently gained steam among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Studies have shown that compression gear has a positive effect on blood flow, heart rate, oxygen distribution, and aerobic threshold. Since this specialized gear is designed to reduce muscle vibration during physical activity, they can also contribute to faster recovery and reduce soreness after a hard workout.
A good pair offers support, comfort, improves the mobility of oxygen to your muscles, keeps your legs warm, and protects your skin. Another bonus is that compression shorts are often designed to wick away sweat, so you can focus less on how uncomfortable you feel and more on the activity you love.
An ill-fitting pair can hang too loosely on your legs or cinch up around your waist, causing friction. If they are too small, your movements will feel restricted within a few strides.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 302 hrs of research
Strong composition, double reinforced seams
Good price-to-value ratio
4-way stretch fabrication keeps the shape
Comes in multiple primary colors
- Under Armour HeatGear Sonic
- Nike Pro 3
- Adidas Techfit 3”
- Wolaco North Moore Shorts
- Tommie Copper Recovery Expedite
- Adidas Alphaskin Tech Compression Shorts
- Adidas Techfit
- Skins A200
- Champion Powerflex
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Compression Shorts
1. Under Armour HeatGear Sonic
Strong composition, double reinforced seams
Good price-to-value ratio
4-way stretch fabrication keeps the shape
Comes in multiple primary colors
A bit constrictive for some
Under Armour lives up to its bold and die hard image with the HeatGear Sonic . These will keep you warm, offer firm support, and have your back every step of the way.Read more
Comfortable but not compromising, the level on these is steadfast. You’ll be more than satisfied with the level of support.
These are will be tight, but some find the waistband is a little snugger than is comfortable. Other than that the reinforced seams sit flat and comfortably while the 4-way stretch fabric provides great flexibility.
Compared to some others on our list, these are more in the mid-range. However, the combination of quality, snugness and comfort you’ll be getting is more than worth it.
2. Nike Pro 3
Polyester and spandex blend
Lightweight and breathable
May get a little pricey
Nike has hit it out of the park with the Nike Pro 3. Simple yet effectively designed, these are great for a casual jog or to find your zen at yoga practice. Versatile and affordable, overall a great choice.Read more
These provide great tightness and firm support that is fitting for all kinds of athletes.
Nike’s Dri-FIT fabric provides great moisture wicking and will help you stay dry even when you’re working up a sweat. The flat waistband is soft but offers a close fit and the triangular gusset design and ergonomic seams give you a full range of motion with zero discomforts.
These might rise up to the high end of the price range on our list, but they are definitely worth it. With pro performance and the reliability of the Nike name, experienced runners and beginners alike are sure to love them.
Constructed for consistent yet subtle pressure
Extra hamstring support
Smart drawstring closure
A top of the line model, with the 2XU you can expect superior quality to elevate your game. Graduated pressure is engineered into these shorts to ensure that you have a bit of support where you need it and flexibility where you need it. Can’t go wrong.Read more
If you’re looking for a little something more, these 2XU are exactly what you need. Their knit construction and LYCRA blend fabric offer strong support and reliable hold.
Even though these have a hardcore level of compression going on, they are still comfortable and breathable enough for all runners no matter the workout. They are lightweight and flexible, on top of having UV protection.
Although we’re definitely moving into a higher price range, the 2XU are meant to offer the next level of pressure for those willing to invest.
4. Adidas Techfit 3”
50+ UV protection
Great wicking technology
Can be a little short
Besides being comfortable and top of the line, Adidas Tech Fit are environmentally friendly as well. They offer great compression without constriction and with a sustainable style outline, making these more than worthy to land on this Top 10.Read more
The thick but slim support design of the Adidas Techfit 3” adds to the compression of these shorts. They stay in place and continue to support during any activity. The recycled polyester is infused with Adidas Echfit Technology, which adds acceleration and power when assisting the natural muscle movement during workouts. The sturdy waistband also adds a little extra support to the abdomen, assisting in keeping the body aligned.
The Techfit 3” shorts fit very slim and stay in place. Adidas added Climate Fabric design to the sustainable polyester material to keep the sweat from interrupting your run. The waistband is super soft and offers 50+ UV protection. These are a great combo of comfort, function, and style. They offer just enough to hold you in without being aggressive.
More than affordable, Adidas Techfit 3” Compression Shorts are a budget-friendly addition to your running attire. They hug the body without being intrusive and reviewers are raving about the style and wicking technology. They offer everything including sustainability and we are all for saving your muscles and the environment - especially at a great cost.
5. Wolaco North Moore Shorts
Pockets that work
Keep you dry
Best Support and Compression
4way stretch material
Shorter than other brands
Waistband rolls sometimes
Crowdfunded and a crowd pleaser, the Way of Life Athletic Company - or WOLACO- created quite a buzz with their North Moore Compression Shorts. They have extra, highly functional space for personal items storage and all the other good stuff that makes them a sure contender on our Top 10 list of Best Compression Shorts.Read more
The WOLACO North Moore is made with a thicker material than most athletic shorts, however, this does not mean heavier. The material is light, breathable and awards epic support. They fit anatomically to the muscles and aid in a variety of movement, enhancing any workout. Most reviewers have raved about the impeccable support and have converted over from higher-end well-known brands. All of the hype is due to their high level of support and lack of slippage during intense workouts. The North Moore is engineered for heavy-duty activity.
From the buzz we are hearing, the comfort is unrivaled as well. They have two pockets, one for keys and smaller items and one for your cellphone. The waterproof design keeps all that gear protected and the material keeps it in place; no complaints of flopping around while running or even doing headstands. The waistband holds in place and the material wicks sweat while flatlock stitching saves you from chaffing.
Between the extra pockets and reinvented design, this is a well-deserved addition to the list of the best compression shorts; making these a steal at an average cost. They provide everything for your compression needs above standard and were made with comfort and durability in mind.
6. Tommie Copper Recovery Expedite
Fabric blended with copper and zinc
CopperZnergy fabric to shield odors
The Tommie Copper Recovery Expedite product is an excellent option for athletes who participate in demanding activities, that continuously puts strains on their muscles.Read more
These offer a mild amount of compression that is comfortable for those with previous injuries or joint pain.
These are specifically designed to aid your body's recovery and muscle repairs. They are comfortable and durable and will boost your blood circulation and provide you with the perfect amount of support during your workouts. These also utilize CopperZnergy fabric to prevent your shorts from acquiring any permanent odors.
One of the most expensive products on our list, these are for those looking for relief and use even when they aren’t working out.
7. Adidas Alphaskin Tech Compression Shorts
Unrestricted and fresh feeling, the Adidas Alphaskin Tech creates an extra-skin feel. They are light, cool and add just the right amount of compression to your muscles to enhance your daily workout routine.Read more
Alphaskin is designed to mold to the muscles. The compression that they provide gives the feel of an extra layer of skin, supporting muscle movement and staying cool. They do not have the extra support some offer for stability purposes. However, this isn't an issue since they are shorts and do not cover the knees or other joints.
Adidas Polygene technology offers a comfortable and fresh design. The Alphaskin is non-restrictive and soft, offering a UPF 50+ UV protection and anti-odor fabric that feels like an extension of the skin you are in. The wist band is bound and adds no restriction to the abdomen so you get the multidirectional feel with out the stress of them moving around unwanted. Alphaskin Tech also has the Climachill technology to keep you cool and try no matter what sort of hot temps you may be working with.
Some of the best compression technology at a fraction of the cost. Alpha skin tech is a medium style compression layer that hugs the muscles and gives the runner a fresh and comfortable feel. If you are looking for a not so tight compression with a premium feel at a not so premium price, the Adidas Alphaskin Tech Compression shorts are a great choice.
8. Adidas Techfit
Climalite fabric designed for moisture control
Ergonomic waistband for increased comfort
Some customers noted that the material is thinner than other brands
Perfect for any workout or routine, these tights have great breathability. The Adidas Techfit offer a snug fit without restricting movement.Read more
The Techfit has a decent amount of pressure with a close fit. They’re a great default short for whatever workout you have planned.
Adidas’ signature Climalite fabric is meant to expertly wick moisture and keep you dry. It’s also lightweight and soft with seams that lay flat and won’t rub in the wrong places.
For all of the great benefits, these offer the price is fantastic. They’re in the low range of the choices on our list but they are definitely not lacking in quality.
9. Skins A200
Quality moisture-wicking fabric
Ergonomically designed for a snug fit
50 + UV protection
Engineered gradient compression for maximized comfort
Difficult to size properly
Price runs a bit high
Maybe more revealing than other compression shorts of the same intensity
Highly technical, the Skins A200 do a splendid job of fighting lactic acid buildup and promoting fluid muscle oscillation while in motion. They are the number one choice for those who want the most pressure they can get out of a quality pair.Read more
Many people who wear 2XU say that the Skins A200 half tights are extremely similar and have all the benefits of 2XU with even more compression. These are built for a close fit with their high performance knit construction.
With built-in UV protection, these are made for the long haul, a favorite among endurance athletes and ultramarathoners alike. The moisture-wicking fabric is also a huge plus and the build of the fabric offers consistent compression and coverage.
A mid-range choice, these have great pressure and durable build. They are definitely worth the initial investment but maybe a more pricey option for those looking for a starter pair of compression shorts.
10. Champion Powerflex
Champion Vapor technology evaporates sweat quickly
High-quality elastic waist
A bit tight in the waist
May not last as long as higher priced brands
A great option for someone who wants to test drive exercise in compression shorts. You don’t risk the price of paying for a top of the line product but you get to experience much of the functionality on offer. Champion Powerflex makes an undeniably awesome product.Read more
The polyester and spandex blend offers a mild amount of pressure that is perfect for beginners who are getting a feel for exercising in compression shorts.
These offer support but don’t constrict and are moisture wicking as well as quick drying to keep you comfortable when you’re really pushing your workout. Flat seams help to keep the fit close and prevent chafing.
These rest in the low to mid-range in cost and are perfect for those looking for a decent alternative to more expensive products. They are definitely a great option for beginners but can also be a good choice for more experienced athletes looking for an extra pair to have in their closets for basic routines and workouts.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Specialized sports clothing companies claim that compression gear can benefit the performance of your body.
This type of specialized gear can help you to increase the maximum volume of oxygen that you can use while running (VO2 max), enhancing your body to create more energy from that oxygen, delaying your body to use other resources that make you accumulate lactic acid in your muscles faster than it can be cleared away (aerobic threshold). The more efficient clearance of lactic acid, the enhancement of aerobic threshold, and the increase VO2 max are the three factors that might make you think about buying your new compression running gear soon.
The way that graduated compression can help you is when it increases the speed of the blood flowing through your body, constricting just enough the walls of your veins and arteries. It means that your blood gets pressurized, making it flow faster from and to your heart, carrying nutrients and oxygen back to your muscles, not allowing lactic acid to accumulate, and increasing the recovery time of your muscles.
After all, these products on this list are no more than clothing manufactured to have a series of strategically angled elastics to produce anatomically correct compression. Studies conducted have reported that athletes who wear this type of clothing, can experience a reduction of nearly 26 percent in their VO2max. The studies have not been that conclusive about the roles of compression gear on directly improve your lactate clearance.
While different brands will claim that using compression shorts will allow you to run harder longer, science does not totally back that up. There are definitely great advantages from wearing compression shorts, like a faster and more complete recovery but do not think that those are magical shorts that will make you run faster and longer, that ability is a combination of technology (such as compression shorts) and your personal training.
Specific compression levels are required for specific groups of muscles as well as the type of exercise you plan to do while using them. Compression shorts are not just trying to squeeze you in a tighter pair of short, they have different gradient compression elements that can provide the right amount of surface pressure to enhance circulation to your muscles. To get the best compression shorts for you, make sure to get personal advice from the brand you are looking to buy. Compression shorts can only benefit you in a great way if you get the right ones for you and your specific training/run.
Your comfort is just as important as the amount of compression whatever pair you pick will have. Make sure to choose shorts that will have features that add function to their design to make you more comfortable.
Specific compression levels are required for specific groups of muscles as well as the type of exercise you plan to do while using them. Compression shorts are not just trying to squeeze you in a tighter pair of short, they have different gradient compression elements that can provide the right amount of surface pressure to enhance circulation to your muscles. To get the best product for you, make sure to get personal advice from the brand you are looking for to buy. They can only benefit you in a great way if you get the right ones for you and your specific training/run.
Compression shorts will often have a good blend of materials that allow for both stretch and compression, like thin spandex and lycra combined with nylon or polyester. They also often incorporate mesh vents or ultra breathable fabric blends, and fabrics that wick moisture well. The amount of coverage you can get from a pair of shorts like these will vary, so you can take your pick on inseam length. You can get compression shorts in a wide variety of colors and shapes that can make you feel amazing, not only for their technology but also for the way they look on you. Different brands have multiple colors and different styles.
These also commonly come in sizing that is gendered because of the close fit they try to provide. This type of sizing, however, is just code for different body types and design cuts and not necessarily standard or best for everyone. Don't be afraid to buy whatever size will fit you best, whether you need something with more coverage, something that is more narrow in the legs, something that has more room in the hips, etc. etc. Pick what will fit you best because it's important that you are comfortable while wearing your compression shorts.
It really doesn't matter how perfect a pair of compression shorts is if it isn't affordable or accessible to buyers. We looked for a good cost-to-value ratio when composing our list.
Although some of our options come from big brands, we did try to vary our selection to include a wide range of prices. If you are shopping with a budget, don't be afraid to stick to it because there are plenty of options that are affordable or that have an affordable counterpart. You don't have to shop expensive or brand name to get quality. Also, keep an eye out for deals and discounts that can take a pricey pair and knock them down a price range.
Other Factors to Consider
Obviously, this is a factor that you have to take into consideration. What level you need and how much is comfortable for you to wear and be active in. The other thing is realizing when the amount of pressure in the gear starts to stretch and wear, which will leave you with less effective gear. Definitely remember that this type of materials is never to be put into the dryer. That will have an immediate effect on their effectiveness, durability, lifespan, and performance.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Can these help me if I get swollen and/or sore after I run?
This type of technology can limit the swelling of your legs during and after you exercise. As mentioned before, that technology allows your body to recover faster from your short and long runs. Compression shorts will help your muscles recover faster from their activity.
q: I wear plus sizes, can I use these products?
Everyone can use this technology and should. However, you need to get the right size if you want them to help you with your run. Different brands can go up to extra large sizes. It is worth it to go to the store and ask for assistance if you wear plus sizes or need a specific fit.
q: I am starting to exercise, will these products make me improve my performance?
They will only improve your run if you have the right pair. To know that you need to learn how to run and your specific needs when you run. This kind of shorts can get very expensive, so we suggest to know more about your unique style of running, your specific needs and then you can start looking for your perfect pair.
q: Can I wear the same pair during different seasons?
Some may work for you during different seasons depending on your sport or your exercise routine, however, we do suggest stocking up on a variety that will help you deal with different types of weather. Having a multitude of options will also help lengthen their lifespan over time. You may even want to consider getting compression leggings or tights for the colder months; they can really help you keep the heat in while you’re getting your run on.
q: How do I wear these?
If you’re trying to get into a pair, we suggest you scrunch them up from the waist down to the knee or tight. Then gradually pull each leg up. This material can make those simple steps a bit harder than usual. Do one leg at the time, we recommend. Try them for a while before your first run with them, that way you get used to them. If it feels uncomfortable after your first run, it would be possible you chose the wrong size. They are meant to feel like a second skin.
- How to Recover from a Tough Workout, Online fitness publication ,
- Aerobic energy cost and sensation responses during submaximal running exercise--positive effects of wearing compression tights., Government research publication ,
- Effects of compression stockings during exercise and recovery on blood lactate kinetics., Government research publication ,
- Physiological effects of wearing graduated compression stockings during running, Research publication ,