Review: Similar to the Core Compression Shorts above but designed for a wider range of sports than exclusively for running, these shorts are still an excellent choice and provide a very similar compression.
They are designed to be worn during medium to high impact activity which makes them perfect for runners who also enjoy CrossFit or HIIT training.
They’re lightweight and thin but designed to be worn by themselves, and their moisture-wicking technology and flatlock seams will have you leaving any thoughts of chafing far behind.
Made of 2XUs Power-Weight-Flex fabric.
SPF50 sun protection.
Thin but designed as outerwear.
If you don’t mind the price and you’re looking for a versatile pair of compression shorts that will outlast their competitors, 2XUs Core Compression Shorts are your shorts.
Review: These Adidas shorts are a great option for slightly less compression if you’d like something supportive but not too intense. The light compression is well suited to either recovery wear or for use during training.
They’re just thick enough to be worn on their own but can also work well underneath your running shorts, and they come in at a reasonably affordable price too.
Suitable to be worn as outer shorts.
Wide elastic waistband.
Quick-drying and breathable.
Some durability issues.
Comfortable with light compression, these shorts a good choice for protection against chafing and keeping everything contained.
Review: These TSLA shorts are an affordable option to be worn as underwear under your running shorts. They’re primarily designed to prevent chafing and keep everything in place for the boys, but they do provide a good amount of compression for such affordable shorts.
What’s great about these shorts is that you can actually customize the level of compression a little by either selecting your regular size (a good amount of compression) or a size up (less compression).
Good quality for the price.
Moisture-wicking and quick-drying material.
Wide range of color options.
None at this price point.
These are an excellent value set of compression shorts that make it easy to choose the level of compression you want by either sizing up or down.
Sports compression short tights was made of excellent elasticity fabric enhances range of motion with max comfort and lightweight
Skin friendly and durable design. Flatlock seams add softness and protection without skin chafing and irritation
3.Comfort fit. Fashion elastic letters waistband is comfortable and anti-slippery, these running tight shorts can relieves muscle soreness and keep you in good shape to continue exercising, cool dry and breathable
SILKWORLD Athletic Compression Shorts protect your skin from the sun, stay cool and dry
Great workout shorts for running, training, gym, cycling and so on. If you want to experience more compression to skin tight, please order 1 size down than normally wear
Review: These shorts are another option for customizing compression by sizing down.
They also have a phone pocket which is ideal for running if you’re not a fan of armbands, and overall they’re made of good quality material that is comfortable and provides a nice amount of compression (provided you size down).
Flat lock seams.
Wide elasticated waistband.
Good compression achieved by sizing down.
Handy phone pocket.
Sizing runs a little large.
Waistband may start to curl after multiple washes.
These are good compression shorts for running if you’re keen for an affordable option with a phone pocket.
Review: Coming in at a significantly higher price point but arguably worth it, CW-X’s compression shorts are some of the best.
They are made specifically for compression rather than being tight shorts with a side effect of compression. The shape of the panels are designed specifically to support the major muscle groups, protecting from vibration and encouraging blood flow.
They are also made of cooling material that wicks away sweat, and they protect against harmful UV rays.
Coolmax fabric is moisture wicking and cooling.
Long length provides maximum compression for thighs.
Drawstring provides an extra secure fit.
Support Web panels provide targeted compression for muscle groups.
If you don’t mind the price, these are some of the best quality compression shorts for women on the market.
Engineered with functional fabric, these versatile, breathable and lightweight shorts are designed to wick away moisture and dry quickly for added comfort while you train
Wide elastic waistband provides a comfortable, natural fit
Back pocket is available for small items, like keys, bank card, etc.
Reflective elements for high visibility in low light
Designed without pad for a variety of training activities and skin-friendly, specially white color is perfect for wearing under sport skirts or shorts like tennis, basketball to cut down on chafing all day
Review: These are short compression shorts meaning you only get the benefit of compression in your buttocks. If that’s the muscle group you’re primarily using then these are a great option.
But it seems most gals end up buying them for reasons other than compression, namely to protect against chafing.
They are worn as outer shorts rather than a base layer, and despite being short, they don’t move around or ride up while you run which is a massive plus!
Moisture wicking Dri-FIT fabric.
Wide, flat elastic waistband.
They don’t ride up.
Triangular gusset for freedom of movement.
Too short to provide any compression for your thighs.
Sizing runs small.
These are comfortable short shorts offering light compression for your runs.
If you’re not sold on compression, we have an excellent list of the best workout leggings for women so you’ll be sure to find your ideal running attire without having to compromise.
Why Wear Compression Shorts?
That’s the big question!
And, to be honest, the science isn’t definitive on how much compression actually helps with running.
But, the consensus seems to be that the increased circulation encouraged by compression results in faster return of oxygenated blood and clearing of lactic acid.
The support provided by compression clothing also reduces the intensity of vibrations experienced by high impact sports like running, reducing recovery time for the muscles.
As a result, some claim that wearing compression shorts or leggings while you run will slow muscle fatigue and allow you to run for longer.
This is a big claim and one that isn’t backed up by any science. But, there does seem to be a cumulative effect of wearing compression clothing for running, resulting in improved recovery over time.
And that can only be a good thing, right?
Then you get the other benefits of protection against chafing and the cooling effect of moisture-wicking fabric.
All in all, they seem like a pretty good deal.
Factors to Look For
Not all compression shorts were made equally.
Some are designed with compression as their primary focus with contoured panels designed to target compression on specific muscles. Others are just tight shorts that give a more generalized light squeeze depending on the size you choose.
Have a think about these factors when making your decision:
Level of Compression
In other words – how tight they are.
This decides whether they’re designed to be worn for longer periods of time during recovery, or whether they should only be worn for shorter periods of time while exercising.
(Tighter = during your runs only. Less tight = can be worn for longer periods when recovering.)
Ideally, for optimum benefit, you want your shorts to reach just above the knee so that they can fully enclose and support the full length of your quads and hamstrings.
The shorter the shorts, the less compression you’re getting.
With shorts, this isn’t something you’d immediately think about. But, they’re designed to be stretchy, so unless they’re well designed, they could end up riding up your legs and becoming short-shorts before you’ve even completed the warm-up.
Under vs Outer
That’s right, not all compression shorts are designed to be worn by themselves. Some are best suited to being worn as a base layer underneath your regular running shorts.
If you’re looking for aerodynamics, you’ll need to make sure you choose a pair that are designed to be worn as outerwear.
Shorts vs Tights
This is an interesting question as the answer combines a bit of science, aesthetics and personal preference.
Without over-generalizing, I would go as far as saying that shorts seem to be more popular with men and tights with the ladies… but the preferences extend beyond gender.
The Blood Flow Factor
Since part of the purpose of compression clothing is to support the movement of blood through the muscles, ideally back to the heart, it follows that shorts have the potential to encourage more blood flow downwards towards the feet, while not necessarily helping it to travel back up again.
It’s common to see marathon runners wearing compression socks that reach up to the knee, or sleeves for their calves.
Both provide the benefits of compression while helping to overcome the downward pull of gravity that can result in swelling in the lower limbs.
So, it’s not that there won’t be any benefits to compression shorts, but that you’re restricting the benefits to the muscle groups in your thighs and buttocks without supporting your lower legs, and arguably, it could be the lower legs that need the support more when you’re running.
The Comfort Factor
The main reason people will choose shorts over tights is if they tend to get too hot in tights and prefer to let their legs breathe.
Alternatively, it may be that part of the reason for wearing skin-tight shorts is in order to prevent chafing between the thighs, in which case, tights aren’t necessary.
The Injury Factor
If part of the reason you’re choosing compression clothing is to support an injured muscle, or prevent injury in an injury-prone muscle group, then it makes sense that the style of clothing you choose will match the area needing compression.
If you’re only looking to support the hips, buttocks or thighs, then you only need shorts.
As you can see, there are few things to consider in the shorts versus tights debate, not least the ‘look’ you prefer. But if you think after this that tights might be what you’re after, have a read of our compression tights article before you make any decisions.
There isn’t a huge amount of science to back up the benefits of compression shorts for running. But they definitely don’t do any harm, and proponents believe that they experience improved recovery, so, why not?
How Tight are Compression Shorts Supposed to be?
Put it this way, you shouldn’t feel any tingling or numbness in your extremities! They should be tight enough that you can feel a light squeeze and feel nicely contained, but not so tight that you feel any circulation being cut off.
Overall, they should be comfortable.
What are the Best Compression Shorts for Running?
2XU and CW-X make some of the best compression shorts for running, designed specifically with targeted support on the main muscle groups.
How to Wear Compression Shorts for Running?
Men tend to wear compression shorts as underwear, underneath their regular running shorts, unless they’re racing and looking for aerodynamics. Ladies tend to wear shorts as outerwear.
What do Compression Shorts do for Guys?
Compression shorts provide the same benefits of compression to main muscle groups in the buttocks and thighs, with the added benefit of keeping everything in place and supported while you run, reducing friction and chafing.
Is it Bad to Sleep in Compression Shorts?
This depends on how tight they are. If they’re just a light compression, then no it’s not bad, you might even benefit from the recovery.
But generally speaking, it’s better to avoid sleeping in compression shorts and let everything breathe!
So, what do you think? Are you sold on the best compression running shorts?
Michael is a fitness expert and professional home/garage gym builder. His tutorials, guides, and reviews are backed up by his own experience and will definitely help you achieve your goals. He also loves putting mayo AND ketchup on the pizza for some reason!