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The Best Running Compression Shorts Reviewed

last updated Dec 05, 2018
This is our analysis of the best running compression shorts available on the market today for everyone 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.

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

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Under Armour HeatGear Sonic
99/100 our score
Support
99
Comfort
99
Under Armour HeatGear Sonic
Why is it better?

Strong composition, double reinforced seams

Moisture-wicking material

Good price-to-value ratio

4-way stretch fabrication keeps the shape

Comes in multiple primary colors

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Under Armour HeatGear Sonic
Test Winner: Under Armour HeatGear Sonic
Researched Sources
4
Researched Sources
Total Readers
12k
Total Readers
Reviews Considered
14k
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
302
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
10
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
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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. 10/08/18 This update we've fitted our selection with a new and improved format. This new look is part of a site-wide makeover that will give more detailed insight into products that we hope will help you use our buying guides to their fullest.

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1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
99
Support
99%
Comfort
99%
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.01.19)
$26.99
$29.99
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2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98.5
Support
99%
Comfort
98%
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.01.19)
$24.95
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$27.99
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3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98
Support
98%
Comfort
98%
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.01.19)
$64.00
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$79.95
$79.95
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4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.5
Support
97%
Comfort
96%
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.01.19)
$29.99
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$32.94
5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.5
Support
94%
Comfort
95%
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.01.19)
$17.00
6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.5
Support
95%
Comfort
94%
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.01.19)
$49.50
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7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94
Support
94%
Comfort
94%
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.01.19)
$39.97
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$79.99
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$80.00
8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92
Support
92%
Comfort
92%
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.01.19)
$17.00
9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.5
Support
92%
Comfort
91%
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.01.19)
$80.00
10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90
Support
89%
Comfort
91%
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.01.19)
$11.87
$21.99
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In Depth Review Top 10
  • Under Armour HeatGear Sonic
  • Nike Pro 3
  • U
  • Nike Pro 5
  • Mava
  • Tommie Copper Recovery Expedite
  • CW-X Pro
  • Adidas Techfit
  • Skins A200
  • Champion Powerflex
Table of contents
  • Criteria Used for Evaluation
  • Other Factors to Consider
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Sources

Top Ten Compression Shorts

1. Under Armour HeatGear Sonic

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
99
Under Armour HeatGear Sonic
Support
99
Comfort
99
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$26.99
$29.99
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Pros:

Strong composition, double reinforced seams

Moisture-wicking material

Good price-to-value ratio

4-way stretch fabrication keeps the shape

Comes in multiple primary colors

Cons:

A bit constrictive for some

With the Under Armour HeatGear Sonics, this company lives up to its bold and diehard image. These will keep you warm, offer firm support, and have your back every step of the way.

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Support
Comfortable but not compromising, the level on these is steadfast. You’ll be more than satisfied with the level of support.

Comfort
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.

Cost and Value
Compared to some others on our list, these are probably in the mid-range. The quality combination of snugness and comfort you’ll be getting is more than worth it.

2. Nike Pro 3

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98.5
Nike Pro 3
Support
99
Comfort
98
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$24.95
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$27.99
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Pros:

Flat waistband

Close fit

Ergonomic seams

Polyester and spandex blend

Lightweight and breathable

Cons:

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.

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Support
These provide great tightness and firm support that is fitting for all kinds of athletes.

Comfort
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.

Cost and Value
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.

3. U

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98
U
Support
98
Comfort
98
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$79.95
$64.00
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$79.95
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Pros:

Constructed for consistent yet subtle pressure

Extra hamstring support

Antibacterial material

UV protection

Smart drawstring closure

Cons:

More pricey

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.

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Support
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.

Comfort
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.

Cost and Value
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. Nike Pro 5

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.5
Nike Pro 5
Support
97
Comfort
96
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$32.94
$29.99
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Pros:

Dri-FIT fabric for moisture control

Flexible waistband for custom fit

Flat seams ensure comfort

Cons:

Some colors are more transparent

A great alternative for those who like Nike gear but want a little more coverage. The Nike Pro 5 is here for you.

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Support
The Nike Pro offers a good amount of pressure for athletes 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
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.

Cost and Value
These range from low to mid cost but are great for a variety of athletes and include a lot of fantastic features.

5. Mava

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.5
Mava
Support
94
Comfort
95
best offer for today
$17.00
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

Mava makes a product that is 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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Support
These have a mild amount of pressure that is meant to concentrate on the thighs and upper legs. They are a great choice for athletes and cater to most everyone as well, no matter the sport.

Comfort
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.

Cost and Value
With tons of great benefits at such a low price, these have great value. They are a good go-to for athletes of all background and preference. The reviews on this pair are overwhelmingly positive and are definitely popular for a reason.

6. Tommie Copper Recovery Expedite

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.5
Tommie Copper Recovery Expedite
Support
95
Comfort
94
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$49.50
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Pros:

Comfortable

Fabric blended with copper and zinc

Durable

Multi-functional

CopperZnergy fabric to shield odors

Cons:

High cost

The Tommie Copper Recovery Expedite product is an excellent option for athletes who participate in demanding activities, that continuously puts strains on their muscles.

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Support
These offer a mild amount of compression that is comfortable for those with previous injuries or joint pain.

Comfort
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.

Cost and Value
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. CW-X Pro

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94
CW-X Pro
Support
94
Comfort
94
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$80.00
$39.97
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$79.99
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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 workouts

One of the more pricey pairs

The CW-X Pro does not only support your muscles but offers extra support in your lower back and hips. The standout feature of this product is the focus on providing excellent pressure.

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Support
The draw of this product is extra pressure on the back and hips and firm support throughout with Support Web Tech. The extra stability is great for athletes who need more support on trails and cross-country runs.

Comfort
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.

Cost and Value
These are more expensive but do offer lots of great features and extra compression stability.

8. Adidas Techfit

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92
Adidas Techfit
Support
92
Comfort
92
best offer for today
$17.00
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

    Perfect for any workout or routine, these tights have great breathability. The Adidas Techfit offer a snug fit without restricting movement.

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    Support
    The Techfit has a decent amount of pressure with a close fit. They’re a great default short for whatever workout you have planned.

    Comfort
    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.

    Cost and Value
    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

    The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
    91.5
    Skins A200
    Support
    92
    Comfort
    91
    best offer for today
    $80.00
    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

    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.

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    Strong
    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.

    Comfort
    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.

    Cost and Value
    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

    The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
    90
    Champion Powerflex
    Support
    89
    Comfort
    91
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    $11.87
    $21.99
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    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

    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.

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    Support
    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.

    Comfort
    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.

    Cost and Value
    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

    Support

    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.

    Comfort

    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.

    Value

    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

    Compression

    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?
    a:

    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?
    a:

    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?
    a:

    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?
    a:

    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?
    a:

    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.

    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