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Best Compression Shorts for Running in 2023


Since the creation of sports, athletes have looked for ways to help improve their game, be it through training, new gear, or anything else that may give them a competitive advantage.

One of the lesser-considered products is compression shorts. These can do wonders for both performance and recovery, so we’ve reviewed the best compression shorts for running to help boost your performance a little.

We recommend the 2XU MCS Run Compression Shorts. They use anatomical mapping for targeted support and compression, allow for a full, comfortable range of motion, and as a nice touch, have UPF50+ sun protection!

But they’re not the only great choice. Keep reading to find your next piece of apparel!

Top 3 Best and Favorites


2XU MCS Run Compression Shorts


  • Moisture wicking yarn
  • Muscle stamping technology
  • Improve blood flow


Under Armour HeatGear Armour Long


  • Quality material at a cheap price
  • Flexible and mobile
  • Offers support around working leg muscles


CW-X Stabilyx Ventilator Joint Support Compression Short


  • Joint and hip support
  • Increased blood circulation
  • Shortens recovery time


Best Overall

1. 2XU MCS Run Compression Shorts

These shorts offer excellent coverage across the glutes, quads, and hamstrings. While they’re super supportive, they still allow for a great range of motion so you can run freely and comfortably, without restriction.

What We Like

These shorts use muscle containment stamping, which means the compression is anatomically mapped and targeted so that it hits all the right places.

There’s particular emphasis placed on the quads, which help to reduce pressure on the knees. PWX Flex 70D panels on the front of the shorts and PWX Weight 105D on the back provide good well-rounded support.

Because the compression is fairly strong, it helps to lower vibration and shock in the muscles while you’re running, keeping them performing at their best. When you’re recovering, the compression stimulates blood flow and speeds up healing.

Three pockets give you all the space you need for essentials and valuables. One large pocket holds enough space for a phone, a zippered pocket keeps your valuables safe, and a mesh slip-in pocket holds energy gels or chews quite nicely.

For added comfort and hygiene, the shorts include Polygiene technology for odor-protection and flatlock seams for a reduced risk of chafing.

Even better, UPF50+ sun protection gives you an extra little layer of protection against the heat of the sun, so you don’t even need to wear another layer over these.

Why We Like It

They cover enough surface area for effective support, have excellent compression which improves blood flow and recovery, and has extra protection against the sun and odor.


  • Targeted support using anatomical mapping
  • Allows for full range of movement
  • Flatlock seams prevent chafing and irritation
  • UPF50+ sun protection


  • May not fit a larger phone in the big pocket

Top Runner-Up

2. CEP Compression Run Shorts 3.0

CEP is known for providing great compression, and these shorts deliver exactly that. They’re available in both men’s and women’s models and are highly effective at getting the blood flowing and speeding up recovery.

What We Like

You’ll get superior quad and hamstring support with these compression shorts. 10 to 15 mmHg of compression is on the lighter side, but is effective as a supportive measure during a run and a circulation-increasing recovery tool post-run.

Made from a blend of nylon and elastane, the shorts mold to your body and don’t leave room to chafe, also thanks to moisture-wicking material, flat seams, and wide, elasticated waistband.

Handy slip-in pockets at the hips are perfect for an energy gel or two. A zippered back pocket allows for a phone or wallet to be carried safely with you. With a gender-specific fit, these shorts work well for any kind of runner.

Why We Like It

There’s nothing fancy about these shorts. They do a good job providing light compression, and will provide decent support to the muscles and stimulate blood flow, improving recovery times.


  • Moisture-wicking fabric
  • Knit panels provide support and graduated compression
  • Secure, zippered back pocket
  • Comfortable, wide waistband


  • The lower cuffs may feel restrictive

Best Value

3. Under Armour Heatgear Armour Long

Under Armour’s Heatgear compression shorts are well-priced and great at keeping you cool and dry (as well as supported) while you run!

What We Like

With a tight but not uncomfortable fit, these shorts have 4-way stretch properties to keep you moving just like you would in any other pair. With a full range of motion and light compression, you’ll be supported and comfortable no matter what you’re doing.

The Heatgear material is lightweight, quick-drying, and very breathable, aimed at keeping you cool at the same time as being supportive. Mesh panels placed in strategic places across the shorts keep the air flowing, and moisture doesn’t linger.

There’s also anti-odor technology built-in, so no matter what level of exercise you’re doing, you should stay fairly dry and fresh when wearing these shorts.

A new, more ergonomic design makes them even less likely to chafe, as does a 2-inch wide, soft but supportive waistband.

They come in black and grey, and with a near-knee fit, they provide excellent coverage.

Why We Like It

These shorts are light, stretchy, and lightly supportive. They’re loaded with Under Armour Heatgear, anti-odor, and anti-chafe tech to provide the best possible experience and they’re well-priced!

What’s New

The shorts have been updated with a new, more ergonomic design for increased comfort and streamlining.


  • Lightweight, breathable, and fast-drying material
  • 4-way stretch allows the shorts to move with you
  • Anti-odor technology keeps them fresh
  • Wide, elastic waistband


  • The compression may be too light for some

Top for Injury Recovery

4. CW-X Stabilyx Ventilator Joint Support Compression Short

As their name suggests, these compression shorts provide excellent support for the joints around the hips, pelvis, and lower back. If you’re recovering from an injury and need extra strength and support, these would be a good choice.

What We Like

Using EXO-stretch body fabric with strategically-placed, extra-supportive EXO-WEB panels, these compression shorts provide a great deal of support for both the joints and the muscles.

These compressive panels provide added stability around the hips, pelvis, and lower back, as well as lowering the risk of vibration in the muscles as you exercise, which not only improves performance but reduces the risk of injury too.

If you’re already injured, they’re ideal for keeping your joints and muscles supported as you recover and heal. The compression also increases circulation, bringing oxygen-rich blood to the area for faster healing.

They’re also fairly breathable, with mesh panels throughout for ventilation. Along with this, the material wicks away moisture, dries quickly, and has flat seams, so you’ll always feel good and comfortable.

With built-in UV protection and a handy internal pocket for a key or energy chew, these shorts really offer everything you need to perform optimally and recover faster.

Why We Like It

They’re supportive without being intrusive or uncomfortable. As well as providing great support and stability, they’re breathable moisture-wicking to keep you comfy.


  • EXO-WEB provides additional support for the lower back, pelvis, and hips
  • Strategically-placed mesh panels for added breathability
  • Internal slip-in pocket
  • Moisture-wicking fabric


  • Some may find that the high waist is annoying rather than helpful, depending on their injury (or lack thereof)

Best Recovery Post Runs

5. Zensah the Recovery Short

Although their very name suggests that they’re best for recovery purposes, you can wear these while running too. However, they offer excellent comfort, support, and compression that promotes a speedy recovery.

What We Like

With an excellent combination of compression and range of motion, these shorts are great on both the comfort and support side of things.

Consistent 3D compression across the upper legs keeps them very supported, providing good assistance for circulation throughout the quads and hamstrings. If you have a niggle or an injury, they’ll do a great job of helping you feel better and recover faster.

As well as being supportive and stable, the shorts are stretchy and comfortable, perfect for wear at home when relaxing. They do have a higher-than-average waistband, which may be annoying for some.

Why We Like It

They’re soft and comfy but strongly compressive, providing the best of both the comfort and speedy recovery worlds!


  • Great balance of compression and maneuverability
  • Consistent compression helps the legs to recover
  • Fabric keeps you dry and free of moisture
  • Ribbed elastic waistband


  • Run a little small and tight

Top 2-In-1 Design

6. CEP 2-in-1 Training Shorts

If you need compression shoes but don’t want them to look like compression shorts, these are great. They have a 2-in-1 design that features the compression short part underneath and a looser pair of shorts over the top.

What We Like

Casual and yet compressive, these shorts offer compression without looking like you’re wearing compression shorts. A light, thin outer layer keeps you looking chilled, while the inner compressive layer supports and reduces vibration.

The compressive inner layer uses Tightfit technology for excellent support, and it’s been anatomically optimized for the best and most comfortable fit. That means a slip-free waistband, flat seams, and pressure-free cuffs, all designed to increase the comfort of these shorts without compromising the compression.

The fabric also helps to keep moisture away from the skin and allows for air to flow freely through, cooling the skin down.

They’re available in both men’s and women’s designs, both of which have a drawstring waistband. They’re only available in black, though!

Why We Like It

These shorts have all the features of compression shorts minus the sleek design. Ideal, if you want compression with a more modest look.


  • Lightweight, moisture-wicking fabric
  • Compressive inner-shorts support and stabilize the muscles
  • Stay in place without creating pressure points
  • Anatomically-shaped design


  • Only available in one color

Best Moisture-Wicking

7. Nike Pro Dri-FIT Shorts

Nobody wants to run in damp, muggy shorts! These compression shorts from Nike have excellent moisture-wicking properties, keeping you drier for longer so you don’t need to worry about that.

What We Like

Wear them on their own or underneath another pair of shorts. Either way, the Nike Pro Dri-FIT shorts are compressive and wick away moisture effortlessly, keeping you feeling strong and perfectly comfortable.

Naturally stretchy, they move easily with you so you don’t have to compromise your own motion. Built-in moisture-wicking tech brings sweat to the surface of the material for easy evaporation, and strategically-placed mesh panels help to let the air in.

The waistband is wide and elasticated, increasing the comfort of these shorts. They’re a little shorter in length than some, coming up to mid-thigh.

These shorts are also a good eco-friendly choice, as they’re made with at least 50% polyester fibers that have been recycled. They come in both men’s and women’s designs, and have a few colors to choose from.

Why We Like It

You can’t go wrong with a big name brand like Nike, and these shorts have excellent compression and moisture-wicking properties to keep you secure and dry!


  • Mesh panels enhance breathability
  • Dri-FIT technology draws moisture away from the skin
  • Wide elastic waistband
  • Made with recycled polyester fibers


  • May feel too short in the leg for some

Top Anti-Chafing

8. Brooks Source 9″ Short Tights (men) and Brooks Method 8″ Short Tights (women)

Few things ruin a run quite like chafing. The Brooks Source Shorts for men and Method Shorts for women both present with minimal seaming, significantly reducing your chances of rubbing as you run!

What We Like

Made of a combination of polyester and spandex, these shorts hug the body and provide good compression, while their minimal-seam design makes a big difference to their comfort.

A flat waistband reduces friction against the skin, and contains a drawstring for easy adjustability. The women’s waistband is significantly higher than the men’s, which provides additional coverage but may be uncomfortable for some ladies.

The men’s shorts feature 2 pockets, one on either side. Surprisingly, the women’s shorts have more pockets than the men’s, with side pockets, a handy zippered back pocket for storing larger stuff, and a built-in loop to hang a key safely.

The men’s shorts come in darker colors, while you can get the women’s in a range of bright shades.

Why We Like It

Minimal seaming allows for comfortable wearing at all times, and the light compression keeps your muscles well-supported.


  • Minimal seaming prevents skin irritation
  • Two side pockets and one back pocket
  • Adjustable drawstring in the waistband
  • Provides maximum range of motion


  • Slightly expensive

Buyers Guide – Compression Shorts

How Should Compression Shorts Fit?

Compression shorts should feel like a second skin – in other words, pretty skin-tight but kind of easy to forget about as you wear them. There should definitely be no chafing, no discomfort, and no restriction of motion.

If you can’t run comfortably without the threat of the shorts ripping or your skin being rubbed raw, they’re not quite the right fit.

Features to Look For

When searching for the best compression shorts for running, make sure you look at these features to assess whether or not they’ll be the right fit for you:


Generally, men’s shorts run from 6-inch to 10-inch leg lengths, while women’s shorts typically go from 3 inches to 8 inches long.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to choose whichever size works for you. You should already have an idea of what’s most comfy for you, so stick to something you know or go for a middle-of-the-range length.


Compression shorts are usually made of light, stretchy, compressive material. Most of the time, the material is moisture-wicking too, so you can count on mostly dry shorts by the end of your run. Common material blends include nylon, polyester, lycra, and spandex.

Compression Level

Although compression shorts should be skin-tight, they shouldn’t hurt at all. If they do, the compression is probably a bit much for you. Below is a quick guide on the various compression strength levels to give you an idea of what to look for!

Compression Guide

Compression gear will come with this strange-looking number on it, measured in mmHg. This is the compression level, and depending on your own level of comfort and how much compression you need, these are the ones you can choose from:

8 to 15 mmHg

This is the lightest compression you can get, and it’ll feel just like a pair of tights. It’s a great way to get used to compression, and will give your leg muscles a little boost by helping to increase circulation.

15 to 20 mmHg

Middle-ground compression, this level provides a good mix between stimulating circulation and reducing muscle fatigue during activity. It’s tight enough to support the muscles really nicely, and gets the blood flow going to relieve minor swelling and aches.

20 to 30 mmHg

This is the strongest level of compression, and it’s excellent for those who use compression shorts as part of their recovery schedule.

These types of shorts are a great help for blood flow, stimulating the movement of oxygen-rich, nutrient-rich blood to the muscles and keeping them warm, supple, and ache-free.

You can wear them while running or during the day, but they’re most often used during recovery from exercise or medical conditions.


Why Wear Compression Shorts?

Wearing compression shorts during a run or workout provides the user with plenty of fact-based benefits. They can help to promote oxygen and blood flow, reduce muscle fatigue, decrease recovery time, enhance muscle stability, absorb shock, and more.

How Tight Should Compression Shorts Be?

Compression shorts should fit to your leg with a snug and comfortable feel, without feeling like they’re restricting movement or blood flow.

If any discomfort is experienced, it would be recommended to go up a size. They are meant to support your muscles, not restrict the oxygen and blood flow in them.

Should I Wear Loose Shorts Over Compression Shorts?

There are some compression shorts that are thick and dark enough to not have to wear loose shorts over. These thick and dark ones do not leave you exposed. There are other versions that are a bit more thin, so wearing loose shorts over them may be recommended for your comfort.

Ultimately, it is what you are comfortable with, and comes down to when you believe it is necessary to wear shorts over them.

How To Wash Compression Shorts?

Instead of using the normal wash setting that you would for your regular set of laundry, use a gentle mode setting, and be sure to not to use any softeners.

The use of softeners will reduce the compression shorts fibers ability to wick moisture away. Placing them in a mesh bag during the wash can also help to protect them, and reduce the impact on the fibers.

Ben Drew

Ben Drew

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.

The Wired Runner