Tips to Keep Shorts From Riding Up While Running

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Sometimes, running shorts seem to have a mind of their own. No matter how many times you pull them down, they keep riding up.

Fiddling with your running shorts can not only be distracting but it can mess with your form or slow down your runs.

But with a bit of forward thinking and planning, it’s possible to avoid this annoying problem!

The first step is to figure out exactly why your shorts are riding up. From there, you can choose an appropriate method to prevent it from happening again.

Why Do Your Shorts Ride Up When You Run?

In some cases, the problem lies with the shorts themselves. In other cases, it could be a simple physical issue.

Either way, assessing the potential cause behind your annoying shorts is your first step to fixing the problem.

Some possible reasons include:

Design of Your Shorts

If your shorts have a short inseam, they’re more likely to ride up. The same is true for shorts with a side split. Those with longer inseams or no split tend to stay put.

The Fit of Your Shorts

If your shorts don’t fit right, they can creep up. Too-tight shorts may have nowhere else to go. Too-loose shorts can bunch up and cause some nasty chafing. Make sure your shorts fit snugly, but don’t restrict your movement.

Material

Cheap, low-quality materials might not offer enough stretch, leading to your shorts riding up while running. If they do stretch, they might not have adequate moisture-management technology, leading to chafing.

Sweat and Moisture

Even if you’re wearing well-fitting, high-quality shorts, sweat can be a problem. Excessive sweating can increase friction between your skin and your shorts, causing your shorts to bunch up.

Friction and Static

Friction between your thighs and the material of your shorts can cause those shorts to ride up. In dry conditions, static can also cause your shorts to cling to your skin, potentially increasing the chance of rubbing or riding up.

Body Shape and Movement

Everyone’s body is shaped differently and every runner moves differently. If your running form is a little off, your legs may be rubbing together causing your shorts to ride up.

How to Keep Shorts From Riding Up

The good news is that once you know what’s causing your shorts to ride up, you can take steps to prevent it.

Try some of these tips and see what works for you!

1. Choose the Right Fit

Fit is king! This is essential for many reasons, but ensuring your shorts fit you properly will decrease the chances of chafing and your shorts riding up.

If you usually wear shorter shorts, opt for a pair with a longer inseam. A pair with an inseam of 5 to 7 inches will be much less likely to ride up.

2. Material Matters

Choose your shorts carefully! They come in various materials, and some aren’t as skin-friendly as others.

Breathable Fabrics

Look for shorts made of polyester or technical fabrics that can wick moisture. Cotton tends to hold onto moisture, so it’s not a good choice.

Breathable fabrics allow air to circulate freely, helping sweat move to the surface and evaporate. Getting rid of sweat helps keep your skin dry, which can make a big difference in stopping shorts from riding up on damp, clammy skin.

Avoid Slippery Materials

Slippery materials move easily while you’re running, due to friction. Avoid nylon, spandex, and other slippery fabrics for this reason.

You want something with a slight texture to grip the skin and stay in place.

3. Choose Shorts With an Elastic Waistband or Drawstring

A drawstring might not seem to stop your shorts from riding up, but it allows for a more snug and custom fit. In some cases, the waistband moving can contribute to the shorts rising up your thighs, so if this sounds like our issue, a drawstring could solve it.

4. Look for Shorts With Built-In Liners

If you prefer loose shorts but they keep bunching up, consider a pair with an inner lining—that way, you’ll have a protective layer between your skin and the loose material.

Or, you can invest in a pair of compression shorts and wear them underneath your shorts as a separate item.

5. Use Body Glide or Anti-Chafing Products

If you already have an anti-chafing product, you can use it on your legs. Just apply it to your inner thighs before you run, and the friction it provides should help stop your shorts from riding up.

6. Try Hairspray

Hairspray has been used for decades to stop clothes from moving out of position, most notably by gymnasts to keep their leotards firmly in place during their routines.

Take caution when using it. We recommend trying a small amount on the skin of your inner arm before applying it to your legs, just to make sure there’s no bad reaction.

If your skin doesn’t react badly, apply a little hairspray on the area of your leg where the shorts tend to ride up. Be careful and go light on the spray.

Too much hairspray applied to the same skin can eventually cause a reaction, so this might be handy in a pinch, but shouldn’t be relied on for everyday use.

7. Fold the Hems of Your Shorts Upwards

An easy thing to try if you find your shorts riding up in the middle of a run is to roll up the hem of the shorts. This adds a little more bulk to the hem, adding extra friction and stopping the shorts from moving.

8. Alter Your Shorts

If your shorts no longer fit like they used to, you can alter them or get someone else to alter them for you.

Perhaps they’re looser than they used to be after you lost weight. Extra material around the shorts can cause them to bunch up and cause discomfort, so you might need to take off a few inches on the bottom of the shorts.

Or, cut a line down the side of each leg and sew it closed a bit tighter. If you aren’t familiar with sewing, you may need to ask someone for help.

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AUTHOR

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.