The Best Running Compression Shorts Reviewed

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Detailed breakdown and analysis of the best running compression shorts on the market today. For novices and pros alike. See the list before you buy a pair.

Compression shorts have been around for years, but they have recently gained steam amongst athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Studies have shown that compression gear has a positive affect on blood flow, heart rate, oxygen distribution and aerobic threshold. Because compression shorts are designed to reduce muscle vibration during activity, they can also contribute to faster recovery and reduced soreness after a hard workout.

A good pair of running compression shorts 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 your compression shorts are too small, your movements will feel restricted after just a few strides.

Last Updated: October 27, 2017
By Brian Price:

There have been some changes to our list in this guide. After sitting down to do a little research, we found enough more suitable replacements to replace the majority of the options here.

You’ll also find some more information has been added, as well as some more updated questions and answers in our FAQ section.

Sugoi Piston 200 Tri Pocket
  • Sugoi Piston 200 Tri Pocket
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 9 inch inseam
  • Price: See Here
ASICS Low Cut Shorts
  • ASICS Low Cut Shorts
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Flat Seam Stitching
  • Price: See Here
Nike Pro Combat Core
  • Nike Pro Combat Core
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Flat seams
  • Price: See Here

 

10 Best Running Compression Shorts

 

1. Under Armour HeatGear Sonic

With the Sonics, Under Armour lives up to its brash and aggressive image. These are military grade compression shorts that will keep you warm, offer firm support, and have your back every step of the way.
Pros
  • Strong composition, double reinforced seams
  • Moisture-wicking material
  • Good price-to-value ratio
  • 4-way stretch fabrication keeps shape
  • Comes in multiple primary colors
Cons
  • A bit constrictive for some


2. Nike Pro 3"

Nike has hit it out of the park with these. Simple yet effectively designed, these women's compression shorts are great for a casual jog or to find your zen at yoga practice. The highlight reel includes a specially lined gusset and ergonomic seams that ensure zero friction. Versatile and affordable, overall a great choice.
Pros
  • Flat seams, no irritation
  • Comes with many color options
  • Extremely lightweight and quick drying
  • Strong elastic in the waist
Cons
  • A high cut does not flatter everyone


3. 2XU

A top of the line model, you can expect superior quality from the 2XU compression shorts 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. Breathable and lightweight, these shorts also boast a material that is antibacterial and has SPF 50 sun protection. Can’t go wrong.
Pros
  • Constructed for consistent yet subtle pressure
  • Extra hamstring support
  • Bacteria and sun resistant material
  • Thoughtfully designed
  • Smart drawstring closure
Cons
  • Slightly expensive

4. Nike Pro 5"

4. Nike Pro 5
Created to please the masses, these shorts are form fitting and flattering for every figure. The 5” inseam is the perfect compromise for those who want to look stylish while still leaving a little to the imagination.
Pros
  • Dri-FIT fabric for moisture control
  • Flexible waistband for custom fit
  • Flat seams ensure comfort
Cons
  • Some colors are too transparent to wear without a second layer

5. Clinch Gear

5. Clinch Gear
If you're looking for a workhorse that will keep up with you throughout all sorts of activities, this is it. The fabric is designed to provide the right amount of pressure to encourage circulation and oxygen delivery to muscles. Buyers feel that these shorts are particularly helpful during the recovery process, effectively reducing pain.
Pros
  • Double Flat Lock stitching prevents chafing
  • Moisture-wicking technology
  • Thick, quality material
  • Rubber lining prevents ride-up
Cons
  • The grips that prevent the shorts from riding are uncomfortable to some

6. Tesla Men's Compression Shorts Baselayer Cool Dry Sports Tights

6. Tesla Men's Compression Shorts Baselayer Cool Dry Sports Tights
These tights keep you as cool as a cucumber by releasing heat. Two-way air circulation and moisture evaporation capabilities make for great breathability. A great choice for all seasons, the cooling effects are particularly noticeable when a warm environment threatens to ruin your workout.
Pros
  • Flat Lock seam increases comfort
  • UPF 50+ protection
  • Deodorizer helps with odor control
Cons
  • Sewn-in tag can cause discomfort in the rear

7. CW-X Men's Endurance Pro Shorts

7. CW-X Men's Endurance Pro Shorts
These shorts not only support your muscles but offer extra support in your lower back and hips. The standout feature of this product is the focus on providing excellent compression.
Pros
  • Exo-web provides muscle support; quadriceps and hamstrings stabilization
  • Thick, comfortable fabric
  • Moisture-wicking and breathable
Cons
  • The seam, located in the center of the shorts, can cause chafing after a longer run

8. Adidas Men's Training Techfit Base Short Tights

8. Adidas Men's Training Techfit Base Short Tights
Perfect for athletes, these tights have great breathability. They offer a snug fit without restricting movement.
Pros
  • Climalite fabric designed for moisture control
  • Ergonomic waistband for increased comfort.
Cons
  • Some customers noted that the material is thinner than other brands

9. Skins A200

9. Skins A200
Highly technical, the A200 shorts do a splendid job of fighting lactic acid buildup and promoting fluid muscle oscillation while in motion. With built in UV protection these shorts are made for the long haul, a favorite among endurance athletes and ultramarathoners alike.Constructed for consistent yet subtle pressure
Pros
  • Quality moisture-wicking fabric
  • Ergonomically designed for a snug fit
  • 50 + UV protection
  • Engineered gradient compression for maximized comfort
Cons
  • Difficult to size properly
  • Price runs a bit high

10. Champion Powerflex

10. Champion Powerflex
A great pair of shorts for someone who wants to test drive running 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. These shorts support but don’t constrict and wick away sweat quickly to keep you dry.
Pros
  • Champion Vapor technology evaporates sweat quickly
  • Highly affordable
  • Anti-chafing seams
  • High quality elastic waist
Cons
  • A bit tight in the waist
  • May not last as long as higher priced brands

If you decide to forego compression gear altogether, you forfeit the benefits described above and according to Livestrong these further benefits: potential for improved circulation, core temperature regulation, reduced fatigue, protection against thrombosis, muscle control and retention of energy. So as you can see the benefits are numerous. If this is a part of gear you’ve skipped over maybe it’s worth a second thought.


The Criteria We Used For Our Evaluation Of The Best Running Compression Shorts

Every runner consider compression garments for the proven benefits. Everyone is different, but ignoring your base layer can in many cases be ignoring a foundational element of your gear. Particularly if you are someone who runs frequently in cold weather or has struggled with injuries, a nice pair of compression shorts can be a godsend and the difference between a pulled hamstring or happy legs.. We hope our list has been useful, but let us know if we’ve forgotten anything. Have a pair of shorts you swear by? Add them in the comments!

compression-shorts-full-gear

During the last year we have seen a great development on compression wear. From leg and arms sleeves, to socks, to shorts and tops, they all claim the technology used can enhance your performance while running, practicing any sport, or just having a long day standing.

Let’s start with some basics about how your body does when you exercise.

Whenever you move, your heart pumps blood that contains oxygen to all our body to be used, among other nutrients, to produce energy that makes your body to function. That goes from simply day-to-day breathing to intense exercise, what changes is the heart rate, the more you move, the more blood flows and the more energy you use. As the oxygen and nutrients in blood get used, sub products of the chemical reactions that make your muscles work are generated, one of those products is lactic acid. The velocity of those processes increase along the quantity of exercise you perform.

Getting rid of lactic acid and keep your blood oxygenated is very crucial for runners and their physical performance. Accumulation of lactic acid leads to cramps and muscular pain, and lack of oxygen in your legs blood decreases the performance of the muscles.

How compression gear works

Specialized sports clothing companies claim that compression gear can benefit the performance of your body. 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 on buying your new compression running gear soon.

In other words, compression clothing can help you to increase the maximum volume of oxygen that you can use while running (VO2 max), enhancing you body to create more energy from that oxygen, delaying you body to use other resources that makes you to accumulate lactic acid in your muscles faster than it can be cleared away (aerobic threshold).

compression-shorts-fabric

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, compression shorts are no more than shorts that are manufactured to have a series of strategically angled elastics to produce anatomically correct compression.

A bit more science

Studies conducted have reported that runners who wear compression gear, 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 a your personal training.

Other Important Factors To Consider When Selecting The Best Compression Shorts

Sizing

You have to have in mind this two steps to come down with the perfect fitting for your compression shorts:

  1. Measure your waist, hips and inseam. For your hips, measure around the narrowest part of your body (where your body bends to the side); for your hips measure the fullest part of your hips; and for your inseam measure from the top of your inner leg along the inside seam of your leg.
  2. Find your size. Each brand has its own size chart, ask for it from the staff is looking for you at the shop, or go in their websites and look for it. There are no good universal-size compression shorts. As they provide very specific support for your muscles, you should wear the perfect custom compression short.
compression-shorts-sizesCompression 

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 par of short, they have different gradient compression elements that can provide the right amount of surface pressure to enhance circulation to your muscles.

compression-shorts-style

To get the best compression shorts for you, make sure to get personal advice from the brand you are looking for 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.

Style 

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. One thing you need to have in mind is that compression shorts are sold base in your sex, there are no unisex sizes.

 

FAQ

Q: Do compression shorts can help me if I get swollen and/or sore after I run?

A: Compression technology on shorts can limit the swelling of your legs during and after your run. 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 am overweight, can I use compression shorts for my runs?

A: Everyone can use compression shorts for their run. However, you need to get the right size of shorts 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 are overweight.

 

Q: I am starting to run, will compression shorts make me improve my performance?

A: Compression shorts 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 your unique style of running, your specific needs and then you can start looking for your pair of compression shorts.

 

Q: Can I wear the same pair of compression shorts during different seasons?

A: We suggest to not do it. Some compression shorts like the Sugoi 9-Inch Piston 200 Tri Pocket, are designed for cold weather, while some like the ASICS Women’s Low Cut Shorts are recommended to wear during warm weather. To get the best compression shorts for you, make sure to get personal advice from the brand you are looking for to buy.

 

Q: How do I wear compression shorts?

A: If you’re trying to get into a pair of compression shorts, we suggest you scrunch them up from the waist down to the knee or tight. Then gradually pull each leg up. Compression 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 use 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.

 

We hope you found this guide helpful and provided you with all the information you need to see if compression shorts are right for you!  Thanks for reading!


Here are some of the sources we used while conducting our research:

We utilize many different resources while trying to provide the best information to our readers. Some are clinical sources, some are brand specs provided by manufacturers, and some sources are even other sites which may specialize in particular information which is relative to our subject.

Sources

  1. Fitness Magazine, How to Recover from a Tough Workout, Online fitness publication,
  2. US National Library of Medicine, Aerobic energy cost and sensation responses during submaximal running exercise--positive effects of wearing compression tights., Government research publication, May 27, 2006
  3. US National Library of Medicine, Effects of compression stockings during exercise and recovery on blood lactate kinetics., Government research publication, May 30, 2010
  4. Springer Link, Physiological effects of wearing graduated compression stockings during running, Research publication, May 31, 2010
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