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Compression Shorts

Compression wear is an extremely important part of women’s and men’s sportswear, and compression shorts are no exception. Compression shorts are widely available from major sportswear manufacturers including Nike, Under Armour and 2XU.


Compression shorts use tight-fitting fabric to support the large muscle groups of the upper leg. This reduces vibration of the muscles as you move in order to reduce fatigue and injury. While the precise effectiveness of compression wear is hotly debated, some experts point to its ability to enhance blood flow to the covered areas, speeding up recovery after exercise. While the jury might be out on the recovery and performance benefits of compression wear, its comfort is uncontested. The second-skin fit of compression wear minimises its movement against your skin to prevent uncomfortable chafing. It also makes it very easy to layer compression garments underneath regular clothing for extra warmth on cold days, which is also convenient if you get self-conscious wearing skintight clothing in public.


Compression shorts are invariably made from a synthetic stretch fabric. Different companies have different names for their individual fabric blends, but all of these are some blend of Lycra, polyester and nylon. These stretch fabrics provide the snug fit that compression wear is known for while remaining elastic enough to allow athletes to move unrestricted. Compression shorts are frequently moisture-wicking in order to prevent sweat buildup. Moisture-wicking materials are hydrophobic, and so they move water from wet areas (such as next to the skin) to dryer ones (the outside of the garment), keeping you cool and dry even during hard exercise. Various manufacturers have also added other features to their compression fabrics, including ultraviolet protection and anti-bacterial technology.

Over or Under?

Women’s and men’s compression shorts come in two major types: those designed to be worn as an outer garment, and those designed to be worn as underwear. Getting the two mixed up can be embarrassing. Generally, the ones that you can wear on the outside are made from thicker material, with a longer leg length and fewer exposed seams.

Other Compression Garments

As anyone who goes to the gym knows, compression shorts are not the only compression garments on offer. Compression tights are extremely popular with runners, and short-sleeved and long-sleeved compression shirts are also widely used.

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