When should you wear compression shorts?
- During a run to get a performance boost.
- After a run to reduce recovery time.
But do they really work as advertised? What are the best compression shorts for running?
Eliud Kipchoge wore Nike compression shorts to help him break the marathon world record in Berlin 2018. Do they work for us mere mortals? Research is ongoing into the performance enhancing effects during a run but theres clear evidence supporting compressed time scales for recovery.
So should you buy a pair?
You might find they give you a performance boost or might not. The boost could be a placebo effect but if They will definitely help you recover better. I use them for recovery and I was wearing a pair when I posted my best Marathon time. I’m an advocate.
This guide will give you some options to look at and information about the best compression shorts for training and racing.
Table of Contents
These are the primary points for you to consider when choosing compression shorts.
Performance Boost From Compression Shorts?
This study found no perceptible performance improvement from wearing compression garments. This is quite typical for such studies. But don’t let this put you off trying a pair of compression shorts if you haven’t already done so. As I mentioned I posted my marathon PB in a pair of compression shorts. So I do believe they have an effect.
I think that’s the key here. Endurance running is as much a head game as it is a physical one. Get to mile 20 in a marathon and you’ll take all the help you can. If the compression shorts your wearing can help with that then all the better. Its worth your time and monoey to test a pair, just make sure they are the best compression shorts for running that work for you.
Reducing Recover Time
There have been numerous studies into the effect of compression wear in general and compression shorts specifically and their ability to assist with recovery. These studies provide an overwhelming amount of evidence to support compression and the benefits it brings in terms of reducing the time taken to recover from a run.
Such is the weight of information supporting compression in general for recovery. That studies are carried out into the effect on different forms of running.
For example this is a study into the effect of compression garments and the effect on recovery after high intensity running. It concludes that the wearing of compression garments does help recovery between high intensity running. Reductions in blood lactate and heart rate were observed. Both key indicators for recovery. Similarly this study found benefits for subjects running at submaximal pace.
Beyond the muscle fatigue reduction benefits there are other benefits to consider. Here are some of those along with other things to consider when choosing your compression shorts.
Make sure the compression shorts are made of a material that will take your sweat away from the surface of your skin. Most are to a lesser or greater extent. But some will be better than others. Check the reviews to make sure people are not complaining about this.
If you plan on wearing the shorts while running or recovering. The length of the shorts will determine the muscles getting the benefits. Longer shorts will cover the hamstrings and quads. Shorter shorts will have your glutes covered.
Athletes have used compression to bring awareness of specific areas for some time. Usually in the form of tape. Compression shorts can have the same effect.
Comfort is important, the best compression shorts for running wont feel like they are crushing your legs. If the shorts are too tight they will have a negative effect on your muscles and put negative thoughts into your head. Check the size guide for the compression shorts you are considering. Getting them tight enough is something that may take a little trial and error.
Chaffing can occur in the most inconvenient places. Close fitting clothing will help reduce the possibility of chaffing by not shifting on the skin. Its no replacement for the strategic use of body glide or nipple protection but it’s a useful additional benefit.
Final Thoughts: Best Compression Shorts For Running
The best compression shorts for running arent just tight shorts. They are shorts that have been researched and tested and made by leading brands.
Evidence is lacking for compression shorts and their performance enhancing powers. However world class athletes wear them for a reason. Be that a physical or psychological boost they are worth trying if you haven’t tried them before.
For recovery the case is much more clear cut. They do work and should form part of your post run recovery routine.
A pair from a company that have put the research in is the preference. There may be some benefit to be had from a cheaper pair but not as much as the targeted compression from a ‘good’ pair.
For more information about how to speed up the recovery process after a run take a look at these posts: