Compression Shorts as Underwear

Can you use compression shorts as underwear?  Yes!

Athletes in recent years have found that the technology and comfort found in compression shorts can significantly improve their physical performance as well as athletic recovery.  Customers have seen that the underwear-type of compression shorts have quickly become a staple during and after workouts, and given the blend of function and form can take the place of old-fashioned items such as athletic supporters.

Through the compression technology that has really matured in the past five years, these shorts today are transforming the way that athletes in all sports workout and take part in their favorite physical activities.  As discussed in other articles, however, there are really two different types of compression shorts on the market today:  Those intended to be used as outerwear, and those intended to be used as underwear.  This piece will help you understand how to wear compression shorts when used as a undergarment.

The plain truth is that compression-style shorts can make incredibly comfortable underwear, especially for men.

Men and women both have found that there are significant benefits available to them both during and after their workouts when they use compression shorts designed specifically for sports, but many have also found that compression shorts make great active underwear even outside of active endeavors or workouts.  While working out, the shorts provide valuable support, comfort, and for some people even a reduction in pain.  Following the workout, individuals are finding that they continue to feel improved recovery, better circulation, and less pain after a workout.  While they might not quite be ready to fully replace boxers and briefs in all settings, compression undergarments are great pieces of athletic apparel that are here to stay.

A Key Piece of Fitness Gear for Men

A common theme on compression gear is now to see the term “anatomically correct” in the branding.  This means that the garment is built to accommodate gender-specific bodies.  Male athletes in all sports have found that compression shorts are one of the most valuable pieces of fitness gear to add to their wardrobe.  These specialized undergarments provide a multifaceted support system to men that maximizes effectiveness, protection, and comfort.  One of the great advantages that many male athletes are finding is that the use of an athletic supporter is no longer necessary when using compression shorts as an undergarment.  This significantly reduces chafing and maximizes protection and comfort for the male athlete so that he can be solely focused on the intensity of his workout and his physical performance.

UA’s Boxer Jock is an example of a good, all-around men’s compression undergarment.

Through engineering and fabrics that didn’t even exist a few years ago men are able to work out intensely without having to even think about comfort in their apparel.  One of the most significant benefits of the compression shorts are that they pull sweat away from the skin which provides the body with an enhanced ability to cool itself.  This release of moisture also protects the skin and reduces the development of rashes.

What do compression shorts give you that a good pair of boxer briefs don’t?  Mainly firmness and tightness.  The lycra / elastane fabric in compression shorts will be much more firm and flat against your skin than the mesh or cotton found in regular boxer briefs.

Not only do these undergarments provide enhanced support and comfort, but they also provide medical benefits as well.  One of the key benefits that has been found from using these shorts is that many individuals are able to find relief from conditions, such as sciatica, that can flare up during workouts throughout the utilization of this piece of apparel.  Sciatica can be extremely painful for athletes and can make it very difficult for individuals to physical exert themselves.  Additionally, more and more studies are showing that using compression gear during and after workouts will reduce recovery time between exertion.

One such study done back in 2016 concluded that compression clothing can improve endurance. This was achieved by extending the time to exhaustion in runners through increased muscle economy provided by the compression gear.

However, in a conversation with a sports medicine physician Dr. Gerardo Miranda-Comas stated that “In terms of science, there’s no clear evidence that it will decrease injury risk.”  He is an assistant professor at the Icahn School of Medicine, in addition to being a practicing sports physician so he knows what he’s talking about. He goes on to say that compression gear “can help with biomechanics,” and that’s why he recommends compression gear at times. It also “helps recruit muscle adequately and gives you more synchronized movement.”

A Valuable Fitness Apparel Item for Women

It is not just men’s shorts that are not “anatomically correct”.  Women athletes have also found that compression shorts can provide significant benefits to them as well as to men.  In fact, we cover this topic in more detail in a piece we wrote specifically on compression shorts for women. One of the components of compression shorts that many women athletes are drawn to is their ability to support and maintain the heat of the muscles being engaged.  This creates an environment in the body where the thigh muscles can maintain their heat, decrease the muscles tendency and speed at which it fatigues, and increase overall physical performance.

For the serious athlete and the novice alike these benefits are significant and make this product an essential component of every athletes fitness gear.

The experience of uncomfortable chafing and the development of rashes are also significantly reduced for women that utilize these shorts.  The tight support that these workout shorts provides makes them an excellent undergarment of choice because of the reduction in friction that they provide.  As tight-fitting gear has become the norm in womens sports, having form-fitting undergarments like compression shorts has become an increasing necessity.  The Nike Pro Training Shorts are an example of a garment that works well in this regard.

Finding the Right Pair for Each Athlete

women comp shorts
The UA Comp shorts are popular with female athletes.

Every athlete has a different physical goal and a different type of sport that they specialize in.  Through identifying the right short for their specific workout and sport athletes can maximize the benefits of these shorts.  The technology in this piece of equipment is designed to target specific activities.  As a result, athletes should carefully consider the type of support that they are looking for with their work out and look for an undergarment that is truly right for their individual need, and then balance that with potential budgetary needs.

Once you have found a pair that you are willing to purchase, it is important that you take excellent care of them by carefully following the wash and care instructions for the specific garment that you purchase to enhance the support and longevity of the compression shorts.  A good pair of compression shorts will last a long time as long as they are washed correctly.  Also, keep in mind that any garment that is used for a workout over and over can develop a smell, so try to buy anti-odor and antibacterial fabrics if it fits in your budget.

Our Favorites

Given that we have been watching the compression shorts market closely for the past five years, we have a pretty good feel for what the market offers at various price points.  We also have become familiar with each major manufacturer and what they are focusing on.  Here are a couple of our favorite compression shorts undergarments on the market right now.

  • Under Armour Heat Gear.  Under Armour is arguably the pioneer in compression shorts, and the Heat Gear Shorts are built for the masses and quite possibly their most popular product.  We like the reliability, the value, and the durability of the UA shorts.  They are comfortable and work well as undergarments even when athletics are not involved.  For a more thorough assessment, see our UA Heat Gear Shorts review.
  • Under Armour Boxer Jock.  Possibly the standard for mens compression underwear, the Boxer Jock combines a very lightweight garment with adequate compression ability and a high degree of comfort.  The compression will not be at the level of some of the others are — compression is measured in mmHg and these would likely register well below 15 — they are good for many uses.  Unless you are looking to make millions at the NFL combine, these are probably good enough.  Find here.
  • Nike Pro Core Shorts.  The Pro Core shorts do not look like underwear the way that the UA Heat Gear does, but they can make an excellent undergarment during sports and athletic activities.  Tight fitting and anatomically correct, these shorts help to hold everything in place while also providing enough range-of-motion to accommodate just about any sport.  Good value from a good maker.  We review the Nike Pro Core Shorts elsewhere if you are looking for more information.

If you want to learn about about compression wear, check out some of our other pieces.  We have a big piece on compression shorts as underwear vs. outerwear, as well as a key article on the best compression socks on the market today.  Both can give you more information on this compression gear trend.

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