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Compression shorts apply pressure in a way that may aid muscle recovery after exercise and some sports-related injuries, such as groin strains.

This article explores the possible benefits and risks of wearing compression shorts. It then describes some options and what to consider when making a purchase.

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We refer to “women,” “men,” or both to align with how companies market their products, but there is no need to stick to one type or the other. A person should choose the product that best suits their needs.

Compression shorts may have several benefits, but they can also pose risks to some people.

Benefits

A 2016 study found that compression clothing may slightly enhance running performance and help reduce inflammation, muscle pain, and damage. They may improve running economy and muscle temperature regulation, for example.

In addition, a 2019 study involving male football players found that compression shorts helped reduce groin pain, compared with regular sports clothes. The compression shorts appeared to have no negative effects on performance.

A study published a year earlier found that some compression garments may help prevent knee injuries, though further research is necessary.

And according to a 2020 review, compression garments reduce muscle vibration, which may help reduce fatigue.

Risks

Having a correct fit is key. According to a 2018 review, compression garments that apply too much pressure can cause discomfort, numbness, breathing difficulties.

Compression shorts may not be safe for people with certain conditions, such as older adults with malnutrition. They may also not be safe to wear if there is broken or damaged skin in the area.

Anyone with an existing health issue, particularly a skin or circulatory condition, who is unsure about the risks of compression clothing should speak with a healthcare professional before making a purchase.

Features to consider when choosing compression shorts include:

  • Moisture-wicking materials: These dry quickly and draw away excess sweat from the body.
  • Breathable fabric: Mesh paneling, for example, can provide ventilation.
  • Pockets: Hidden or zipped pockets can be useful.
  • Stretch: Fabrics that stretch in multiple directions allow for greater freedom of movement.
  • Comfort: All sportswear should be comfortable and not chafe.
  • Antimicrobial: Antimicrobial materials may help reduce odor.
  • Sun protection: Some fabrics contain ultraviolet protection factor (UPF), which helps protect the body from direct sunlight.

Stretchy, close-fitting materials such as spandex, also known as lycra or elastane, provide the compression in these garments.

Many compression shorts also contain moisture-wicking, breathable fabrics, such as:

  • polyester
  • polypropylene
  • polyamide
  • merino wool
  • bamboo

Some companies sell “compression shorts,” and others sell “compression or tight-fit” shorts. The latter may not provide the same therapeutic and performance benefits as compression shorts.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and was correct at the time of publication.

CompressionZ Compression Shorts

Best knee-length shorts

According to the company’s website, these shorts:

  • help increase the flow of oxygen to remove lactic acid, leading to faster recovery after exercise
  • increase blood flow by helping the muscles warm up more quickly
  • support muscle efficiency for improved performance
  • contain anti-itch, breathable material that does not chafe
  • contain antibacterial fabric for odor control
  • are suitable for travel, as they encourage blood flow and help reduce leg swelling
  • come in five sizes

They cost $39.99.

2XU Accelerate Compression Shorts

Best outlet option

According to the company’s website, these shorts:

  • support the adductor, glute, quad, and hamstring muscles
  • help reduce muscle vibration
  • reduce muscle fatigue, soreness, and damage
  • reduce the risk of overuse injuries
  • contain highly durable, breathable, moisture-wicking materials
  • have antibacterial properties
  • have UPF50+ sun protection
  • have flat seams to minimize chafing
  • improve exercise performance, muscle alignment, and agility

The price is $59.95.

BALEAF Flyleaf 5-Pocket Shorts

Best for lower budgets

According to the company’s website, features of these shorts include:

  • moisture-wicking properties
  • breathable, stretchy fabric
  • a high-rise, wide waistband
  • a gusseted crotch to improve movement
  • an ergonomic design for better movement and to prevent chafing
  • suitability for a range of workouts and sports
  • side pockets suitable for a phone
  • lengths of 8, 5, or 2 inches (in), or 20, 13, or 5 centimeters
  • 10 size options

They cost $24.99.

Aero Tech Women’s USA Classic Unpadded Bike Short — Compression Workout Shorts

Best logo-free design

According to Aero Tech, these shorts:

  • help increase circulation of blood and oxygen to the muscles
  • reduce the buildup of lactic acid
  • support muscle recovery after exercise
  • reduce delayed-onset soreness
  • are durable
  • have four-way stretch for improved movement
  • protect from chafing
  • have an elastic waist that stays in place during exercise
  • are available in regular or plus versions, with six size options

The price is $29.99.

Pacterra Middy Compression Short

Best secure-fold pocket

According to the company’s website, the key features of these shorts are:

  • soft SwingLoft fabric
  • smooth support
  • an anti-chafe design
  • an increased back rise
  • a Jacquard waistband
  • a folded hip pocket to keep valuables secure
  • five sizes, from small to XX large

They cost $36.

Beyond Yoga Spacedye Biker Short

Best for higher budgets

According to the company’s website, these shorts:

  • are made from ultra-soft, moisture-wicking fabric
  • provide four-way stretch
  • have a high rise
  • have a 7-in inseam
  • have a 5-in waistband
  • have no outside seams
  • provide UV protection
  • come in seven sizes, from XX small to XX large
  • are available in six colors: black, black and charcoal, navy, black and white, silver mist, and chai

The price is $68.

Nike Women’s Pro Shorts

Best range of colors

According to the company’s website, these shorts:

  • are moisture-wicking and supportive
  • are made from a polyester and spandex blend
  • contain at least 50% recycled fibers
  • have a wide, mid-rise elastic waistband
  • have a 3-in inseam
  • are available in 11 colors, with or without a contrasting-color waistband
  • come in seven sizes, from XX small to XX large

They cost $30.

Champion Powerflex Compression Shorts

Best four-way stretch fabric

The company says that these shorts provide muscle support, help the body stay cool, and work well for training, running, and crossfit.

The shorts:

  • are made from a blend of polyester and spandex
  • are made from patented quick-drying, moisture-wicking technology
  • contain ventilation zones at the front and back
  • are available in black, black and gray, and white and gray

The price is $25.

Adidas Techfit Volleyball Shorts

Best range of sizes

The company says that it designed these shorts to provide support and flexibility for volleyball players.

Features include:

  • a recycled polyester and elastane blend
  • a proprietary Techfit design for power, acceleration, and support
  • a pre-curved waistband
  • seams that wrap around the body for extra comfort
  • 15 sizes, from XX small (with a 3-in inseam) to X large (with a 5-in inseam)
  • 10 colors, including navy, red, white, maroon, and dark gray

The price is $30.

A people might try compression leggings, also known as compression tights. These work like compression shorts but provide full coverage.

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 injuries in the area.

But anyone with damaged skin, a circulatory condition, or questions about the suitability of these shorts should speak with a healthcare professional before making a purchase.