The Best Running Compression Shorts Reviewed

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This is our analysis of the best running compression shorts available on the market today for runners of all experience levels. Check out our selection as well as our list of recommended criteria to help you find the perfect pair to compliment your workout.

Compression shorts 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 compression shorts are 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 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 within a few strides.

Last Updated: July 10, 2018
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By Max Knapp:

This update brings the Tommie Copper Recovery Expedite compression shorts. While they are a little on the pricier side, they are the perfect option for versatile athletes. They aid in muscle recovery and minimize overall soreness post workouts. Check them out to see if they are the perfect fit for you. 07/10/2018 A more in-depth breakdown of why we chose our selection of shorts for the best running compression shorts will help our readers make a more informed decision that fits who they are as runners, so we added expanded information on each product that explains why we think they belong on our list.

Under Armour Heat Gear Sonic
  • Under Armour Heat Gear Sonic
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Moisture wicking
  • 4-way stretch fabric
  • Price: See Here
Nike Pro 3
  • Nike Pro 3"
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Flat Seam Stitching
  • Lightweight and quick drying
  • Price: See Here
2XU Men's Compression Shorts
  • 2XU Men's Compression Shorts
  • 4.3 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Consistent compression
  • UV Protection
  • Price: See Here

 

10 Best Running Compression Shorts

 

1. Under Armour HeatGear Sonic

With the Sonics, Under Armour lives up to its bold and diehard image. These are compression shorts that will keep you warm, offer firm support, and have your back every step of the way.
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Compression
Comfortable but not compromising, the compression on these shorts is steadfast. You’ll be more than satisfied with the level of support.

Comfort and Fit
These are compression shorts, 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.

Value
Compared to some others on our list, these are probably in the mid-range. The quality combination of compression and comfort you’ll be getting is more than worth it.
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. Versatile and affordable, overall a great choice.
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Compression
These shorts provide great compression and firm support that is fitting for all kinds of athletes.

Comfort and Fit
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.

Value
These shorts 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.


3. 2XU Men's Compression Shorts

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. Can’t go wrong.
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Compression
If you’re looking for a little something more, these 2XU compression shorts are exactly what you need. Their knit construction and LYCRA blend fabric offer strong support and reliable hold.

Comfort and Fit
Even though these shorts 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.

Value
Although we’re definitely moving into a higher price range, the 2XU shorts are meant to offer the next level in compression for those willing to invest.
Pros
  • Constructed for consistent yet subtle pressure
  • Extra hamstring support
  • Antibacterial material
  • UV protection
  • Smart drawstring closure
Cons
  • More pricey

4. Nike Pro 5

A great alternative for those who like Nike compression gear but want a little more coverage.
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Compression
These Nike Pro compression shorts offer a good amount of compression for runners looking for a reliable pair of shorts to compliment their routines. The compression they offer is mild but supportive and will appeal to runners of all experience levels.

Comfort and Fit
All Nike compression gear is made with Dri-FIT fabric that wicks moisture like a pro and will keep you dry and comfortable no matter how intense your run gets. Flat seams and an ultra-flexible waistband will help keep the fit close and prevent uncomfortable friction.

Value
These shorts range from low to mid cost but are great for a variety of athletes and include a lot of fantastic features.
Pros
  • Dri-FIT fabric for moisture control
  • Flexible waistband for custom fit
  • Flat seams ensure comfort
Cons
  • Some colors are more transparent

5. Mava Men’s Compression Short

The Mava Men’s compression shorts are beneficial across the board for runners, cyclists, and athletes of all kinds. They’re an affordable option for those looking for a reliable pair of workout shorts.
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Compression
These shorts have a mild amount of compression that is meant to concentrate on the thighs and upper legs. They are a great choice for runners and cater to most athletes as well, no matter the sport.

Comfort and Fit
The Mava compression shorts are made with moisture-wicking fabric so you’ll be dry no matter the weather while also retaining warmth in the winter and keeping cool in the summer. They are lightweight and flexible while still providing support and have great extra features like UV and bacterial protection.

Value
With tons of great benefits at such a low price, these shorts have great value. They are a good go-to for runners of all background and preference. The reviews on this pair of shorts are overwhelmingly positive and are definitely popular for a reason.
Pros
  • UVA/UVB protection
  • Antibacterial fabric
  • Moisture wicking and quick dry
  • Lightweight and breathable
  • Overwhelmingly positive reviews
Cons
  • Some people complained about a small fit for more varied body types

6. Tommie Copper Recovery Expedite

The Tommie Copper Recovery Expedite compression shorts are an excellent option for runners and athletes who participate in demanding activities, or runs, that continuously puts strains on their muscles.
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Compression
These offer a mild amount of compression that is comfortable for those with previous injuries or joint pain.

Comfort and Fit
These compression shorts 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 shorts also utilize CopperZnergy fabric to prevent your shorts from acquiring any permanent odors.

Value
One of the most expensive pairs of running compression shorts on our list, these are for those looking for relief and use even when they aren’t working out.
Pros
  • Comfortable 
  • Fabric blended with copper and zinc

  • Durable

  • Multi-functional 
  • CopperZnergy fabric to shield odors. 
Cons
  • High cost 

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.
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Compression
The draw of these shorts is extra compression on the back and hips and firm support throughout with Support Web Tech. The extra stability is great for runners who need more support on trails and cross-country runs.

Comfort and Fit
The Support Web fabric that helps to provide durable support allows a full range of movement and specifically helps knee joints. The fabric is also moisture wicking and offers UV protection.

Value
These shorts are more expensive but do offer lots of great features and extra compression stability.
Pros
  • Exo-web provides muscle support and 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
  • One of the more pricey pairs

8. Adidas Men's Training Techfit Base Short Tights

Perfect for any workout or routine, these tights have great breathability. They offer a snug fit without restricting movement.
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Compression
The Techfit shorts have a decent amount of compression with a close fit. They’re a great default short for whatever workout you have planned.

Comfort and Fit
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.

Value
For all of the great benefits these shorts 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.
Pros
  • Climalite fabric designed for moisture control
  • Ergonomic waistband for increased comfort
  • Flat seams
  • UV protection
  • Longer inseam for more compression and coverage
Cons
  • Some customers noted that the material is thinner than other brands

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. They are the number one choice for those who want the most compression they can get out of a pair of shorts.
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Compression
Many people who wear the 2XU compression shorts 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.

Comfort and Fit
With built-in UV protection, these shorts 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.

Value
A mid-range choice, these running compression shorts have great compression and durable build. They are definitely worth the initial investment but may be a more pricey option for those looking for a starter pair of compression shorts.
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
  • May be more revealing than other compression shorts of the same intensity

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.
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Compression
The polyester and spandex blend offers a mild amount of compression that is perfect for beginners who are getting a feel for running compression shorts.

Comfort and Fit
These shorts 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.

Value
These rest in the low to mid-range in cost and are perfect for those looking for a decent alternative to more expensive shorts. They are definitely a great option for beginners but can also be a good choice for more experienced runners looking for an extra pair of compression shorts for basic routines and workouts.
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 should 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 the 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 increases 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 about 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 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).

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 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 to 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 

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.

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 wear plus sizes, 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 wear plus sizes or need a specific fit.

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 about 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: Some shorts may work for you during different seasons depending on your sport or your running routine, however, we do suggest stocking up on a variety of shorts that are meant to help you deal with different types of weather. Having a multitude of shorts 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 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 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.

 

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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