Runners, bikers, and sometimes even basketball players wear them. Compression shorts have been all the rage among athletes for quite some time now. They have found use not only among racers and elite athletes, but also as gear worn in training and by non-competitive athletes. But, exactly what are compression shorts and how are they designed?
These shorts are a piece of sports apparel designed to fit tightly to your body, almost like a second skin. They vary in degree of compression, since some are also prescribed for medical-related purposes, as opposed to their use as sports apparel. Compression shorts are made of materials such as lycra, nylon, polyester, and spandex. Apart from shorts, there are many compression garments such as socks, tights, and tops, which also serve a similar purpose. What do compression shorts do, you might ask. Let us take a look at some of the many benefits of compression shorts to find out:
1. Reduce Muscle Fatigue
If you have ever gone for a long run, chances are that at some point your body was saying no although your head was saying yes. Over time, during a prolonged exercise, our muscles start to lose their performance abilities and run out of fuel. This fuel is oxygenated blood, which is sent to the muscles and returned to the heart as the process begins again. Compression wear, in this scenario, gives the arteries a little push so they dilate and deliver blood more efficiently. Consequently, this reduces muscle fatigue and increases their performance, not only during exercise but after as well.
2. Prevent Strains
Apart from their support in overall muscle function, compression shorts additionally aid to prevent muscle strains in case of fatigue, overuse, or improper use. Studies have found that compression shorts can be especially beneficial for reducing strains and impact on hip adductor muscles.
3. Provide Comfort
You may be asking yourself why wear compression shorts, when I can wear my trusty old loose ones and be just as comfortable. While comfort is relative, excessive fabrics and layers of shorts or other pants have been known to feel quite uncomfortable during a run, especially when you are planning some long miles ahead. Compression shorts, on the other hand, have a minimal design and reduce friction on the body, which would otherwise cause chaffing and discomfort.
4. Reduce Post-Exercise Soreness
The muscle soreness after a run is certainly not pleasant, especially if you are planning to run more often during the week. Compression shorts positively affect yet another aspect of running, since they help to reduce post-run soreness and aching in muscles. This also means that runners can benefit from wearing compression shorts even when they are not active, since they can have shown to help with muscle soreness in general.
5. Wick Moisture Quickly
A crucial factor to consider when choosing your running clothes is whether they are made of materials that wick moisture quickly. Fabrics such as cotton can trap moisture from sweat, which makes for an unpleasantly damp outfit while running. So, how do compression shorts work for wicking moisture? Instead of the sweat-trapping materials, sports brands usually manufacture clothing pieces made of sweat-proof and moisture-wicking synthetic blends, which are also adapted into the production of the majority of compression shorts.
6. Help with Muscle Recovery
Remember the oxygenated blood we briefly touched upon in point one? During this process that fuels movement, there is often insufficient oxygen to be sent to the blood. This causes a lactic acid buildup, which can result in muscle pain and cramps. Compression shorts have shown positive results in reducing blood lactate concentration and heart rate post-exercise, which in turn helps for a quicker recovery of muscles.
7. Increase Flexibility
With their tight and close-to-the-skin fit, one could ask what do compression shorts do to increase flexibility? To most, they may appear restrictive and uncomfortable when it comes to moving freely. On the contrary, they are made of stretchy materials such as spandex, which encourage flexibility and unrestricted movement. For this reason, some even prefer to wear their compression shorts when exercising in a gym.
8. Control Temperature
Compression shorts are made of technical fabrics, which are used specifically for sports apparel. Such fabrics, in addition to their moisture-wicking properties and breathability, are also designed to regulate the body temperature. Insulating fabrics in compression shorts control heat and allow air circulation through mesh ventilation during hot summer days, whereas they offer extra warmth through thermal layers during your colder winter runs.
9. Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis is a condition that occurs when blood clots in one or more of the deep veins inside the body, particularly in the lower thigh, leg, or pelvis region. Compression wear, compression shorts included, can significantly help with swelling and blood circulation in milder and controlled cases of deep vein thrombosis.
10. Offer Extra Support
These shorts can be worn both ways, either as underwear/base layer or on their own. When buying compression wear, you can usually check their label to find out whether they are designed to be worn as one or the other. Whichever the case, compression shorts are often worn by athletes for that extra support in the groin area, since they maximize both protection and comfort. That is why you will often see basketball players wearing this type of shorts underneath their regular shorts.
11. Provide Additional Storage
While there are many accessories made specifically for storing things during your runs, if you prefer a minimalist outfit but still need to bring your phone or keys with you, compression shorts will do the trick. If you have ever worn regular shorts during a run and tried to store, say, your phone, in their pockets, you probably know the struggle of having to constantly make sure it is not jumping out of them. Compression shorts, on the other hand, also offer additional pockets, and due to their tight fit, you will not have to worry about having to secure the items you store.
These were some of the many benefits of wearing compression shorts. This popular piece of clothing is used both by athletes for improved performance and non-athletes for medical purposes, due to its advantages in protecting muscles from strains, helping with oxygenation, and speeding up the recovery process. Additionally, they are comfortable, offer flexibility in movement, and regulate moisture and temperature.