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Compression shorts apply pressure to certain areas of the body. They may aid muscle recovery after exercise and recovery from sports-related injuries, such as groin strains.
This article explores the potential benefits and risks of compression shorts, before outlining compression short products and factors to consider when purchasing them.
Compression shorts may benefit people in several ways, but they may also pose risks to some people.
A 2016 study found that compression clothing may slightly enhance running performance and help reduce inflammation, muscle pain, and damage. This may be due to factors such as improved running economy and muscle temperature.
A 2019 study in male football players found that compression shorts helped reduce groin pain compared with regular sports clothing. The compression shorts did not appear to affect their performance negatively.
Another study from the Journal of Sports Sciences found that directional compression shorts helped support the hip adductor muscles, which may reduce strains in this area or aid a person’s recovery from them.
Wearing compression shorts that fit correctly is important. According to a 2018 review, compression garments that apply too much pressure can cause discomfort, numbness to the surrounding area, and potential breathing difficulties.
Compression shorts may not be suitable for people with certain health conditions. These types of clothing may not be safe for:
- people with broken or damaged skin
- older adults
- people with malnutrition
If a person has an existing health issue, particularly a skin or circulatory condition, and is unsure if compression shorts are safe to wear, they should first speak with a healthcare professional.
Features to consider when choosing compression shorts include:
- Moisture-wicking materials: Quick-drying, moisture-wicking materials can help draw away excess sweat and help people stay drier.
- Breathable fabric: Look for products that use breathable fabrics or have ventilation or mesh panels.
- Pockets: Hidden or zipped pockets can be useful for outdoor exercise.
- Stretch: Fabrics that stretch in multiple directions may allow for greater freedom of movement.
- Comfort: Make sure sportswear feels comfortable and does not chafe against the skin.
- Antibacterial: Antibacterial materials may help reduce odor.
- Sun protection: Some fabrics contain an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF), which helps protect the body in direct sunlight.
Here are five compression shorts that people may be interested in trying.
Note that while some product links below are for male or female shorts, most companies on this list offer compression shorts for all genders.
Please note, the writer has not tested these products. All information is research-based.
CompressionZ Compression Shorts
According to the product website, benefits of the CompressionZ compression shorts include:
- helping increase oxygen to remove lactic acid, leading to a faster recovery after exercise
- increasing blood flow by warming up muscles more quickly
- supporting muscle efficiency for improved performance
- anti-itch, breathable material with no chafing
- antibacterial fabric for odor control
- suitability for travel, as they encourage blood flow and help reduce swelling in legs
- availability in five size options
Under Armour HeatGear Mid Compression Shorts
According to Under Armour, features of the HeatGear Mid Compression shorts include:
- quick-drying, moisture-wicking material
- panels for ventilation
- lightweight, tough material
- four-way stretch material for improved movement
- anti-odor technology
- ergonomic design for durability and to prevent chafing
- availability in regular or tall, with seven size options
2XU Accelerate Compression Shorts
According to the product website, features of the 2XU Accelerate Compression Shorts include:
- compression support for the adductor, glute, quad, and hamstring muscles
- helping reduce muscle vibration
- reducing muscle fatigue, soreness, and damage
- reducing the risk of overuse injuries
- highly durable, stretch materials
- breathable, moisture-wicking material
- antibacterial properties
- UPF50+ sun protection
- flat seams to minimize chafing
- improving exercise performance, muscle alignment, and agility
BALEAF High Waist Pocketed Compression Shorts
According to the product website, features of the BALEAF Compression Shorts include:
- moisture-wicking properties
- breathable, stretch fabric
- high-rise, wide waistband
- gusseted crotch to improve movement
- ergonomic design for better movement and to prevent chafing
- suitability for a range of workouts or sports
- side pockets suitable for a mobile phone
- availability in lengths of 8, 5, or 2 inches (20, 13, or 5 centimeters)
- availability in 10 size options
Aero Tech Women’s USA Classic Unpadded Bike Short — Compression Workout Shorts
According to Aero Tech, these compression shorts can benefit people by:
- helping increase blood circulation and oxygen to the muscles when exercising, while reducing the build-up of lactic acid
- supporting muscle recovery after exercise by increasing blood flow and reducing delayed-onset soreness
- being made from durable material
- having four-way stretch for improved movement
- protection from chafing
- using an elastic waist that stays in place during exercise
- availability in regular or plus versions, with six size options
Alternatively to compression shorts, people may wish to try compression leggings, also known as compression tights.
Compression leggings cover the whole leg, rather than the upper leg, and work in the same way as compression shorts.
They may help improve recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage, particularly when a person wears them immediately after intense, resistance-based exercise.
Compression shorts may help improve muscle recovery after exercise and reduce pain and inflammation following injury.
If people have damaged skin, a condition affecting their circulation, or are unsure whether compression shorts are safe for them, they can speak with a healthcare professional.