Best Compression Shorts Review
The compression shorts market had become big business in recent years. With promises that trading in your old pair of shorts for the latest spandex offering will make you better, faster, stronger it’s hardly surprising.
So, what’s the reality?
Are compression shorts worth the investment - and what do they actually do?
Which ones are best and how can you tell?
In this article we bring you the 10 best compression shorts on the current market - and we’ll answer all your compression short questions along the way.
Top 10 Compression Shorts in a Glance
Best Compression Shorts for Men
Leading Compression Short Brands
Under Armor is an American company based in Baltimore, Maryland
and offices all over the world. The company has been around since 1996, but got its big break in 1999 when Marvel contracted them to supply garments for two big feature films. This led to the comonat becoming the official supplier for the XFL football league.
Under Armor have established themselves as a forerunner in the performance apparel market, specifically in regard to compression garments.
Mava Sports grew from humble beginnings out of a garage with sales exclusively on Amazon. They began with workout gloves and have grown to become a serious contender in the compression garment market.
Mava Sprts have developed a reputation for their durability, reliability and post sales service for various type of fitness products and apparels.
Neleus is a relatively new sports garment company, being founded in 2008.
They specialize in sublimation print technology to produce quick-dry fabric sports material. Their production factory is based in Asia.
As one of the largest sporting brands on the planet, Adidas needs no introduction. It was founded in 1949 in Germany, where it still has its world headquarters.
It is the second largest sportswear company in the world, after Nike. Adidas have gone boots in to the compression garment market, establishing themselves as a market leader.
Types of Compression Shorts
- Medical-grade compression Shorts: Medical grade compression shorts are different from conventional brands in that they provide you with graduated compression. This means that the level of compression changes throughout the garment. Medical grade compression shorts are designed to help alleviate specific medical conditions.
- High Grade Compression Shorts: High grade compression shorts are those that have the highest grade of compression. Compression levels of 20 mmHG or above are considered to be high grade. The higher the compression, the tighter the fit will be and the greater the benefits in terms of increased blood circulation. However, some people may find such compression shorts uncomfortably tight.
- Mid-grade compression: Mid grade compression shorts are those that have a medium grade of compression. Compression levels of between 10 and 20mm HG are considered to be mid grade.
- Padded Compression Shorts: Padded compression shorts are conventional compression pants that have added padding in strategic areas. The most common areas to be reinforced are the tailbone, the hips and the thighs.
- Support Shorts: Support shorts are compression garments that are specifically designed to help alleviate excessive hip abduction and low muscle tone.
- Underwear Compression Shorts: Compression underwear is intended to be worn underneath a pair of loose fitting shorts. They fit snugly and are usually made of spandex. You should also expect your undergarments to possess moisture wicking properties. Compression undergarments will eliminate the need for jockstraps. In fact, jockstraps have become increasingly uncommon in favor of compression underwear. Many brands of compression underwear feature a sewn in pocket that is able to take a protective cup.
Compression short undergarments are also commonly worn by women who wear skirts during sports performance.
- Outerwear Compression Shorts: Compression outerwear is designed to be worn as a stand alone garment, with nothing on top of them. As a result, they are more stylishly designed than underwear. They will also be thicker and feature stronger seams. Outerwear compression shorts come on various lengths from mid thigh all the way down to the knee.
What to look for in a Compression Short?
- Polyester: While not the most durable of materials for compression shorts, polyester is a good choice if you are going to be training outdoors. It is water resistant and it is more resistant to UV radiation than any other material that is used for compression short construction. With this material you do not have to worry about the material fading in the sun or the fibers breaking down.
- Nylon: Nylon is quite a common material in compression short construction. It usually has a blend ratio of 2 to 1 with lycra, with which it is usually paired. After neoprene, nylon is the most durable fiber used in compression short construction. It is also the most water resistant natural fiber that you will come across. And, because it is a smooth fiber, nylon will not cause irritation to those who have a skin condition.
- Lycra: Lycra is also known as spandex. You will find it, to a lesser or greater degree, in virtually every pair of compression shorts on the market. The greater the lycra content, the better. Its great benefit is that it provides a great deal of flexibility while still retaining its shape. It is, therefore, the spandex which allows for the form hugging fit of compression shorts. It allows them to perform without any restriction of movement.
- Neoprene: Of all of the materials in this list, neoprene is the least breathable. Neoprene is resistant to water and sunlight so wil nor deteriorate from extended outdoor use. It is also thermal and heat resistant. While being thick it is also lightweight, which makes it a popular choice for protective sports gear. Neoprene is technically a rubber, and is far more durable than most other compression short construction materials. It is not as breathable as other materials, however.
Level of Compression
Look for the compression level of the shorts. Graduated compression means that the level changes in different parts of the garment, which is believed to increase the effectiveness of the compression. Compression levels og between 20-30 mmHG are the best.
You should look for a pair of compression shorts that have inbuilt moisture wicking and sweat removal properties.
The most obvious problem when it comes to comfort is the tightness in the groin area. It doesn’t matter how effective your compression shots are if you are going to be distracted by tightness in this area - it will distract from your performance and negate any potential benefits. Furthermore, you will probably simply stop wearing them. So, look for a pair of compression shorts that alleviate the compression in the cup area.
How Compression Shorts Work?
Compression shorts are a sub-category of compression wear, which is a type of clothing that is woven with spandex type fibers. As a result the clothing is very tight on your skin. This is designed to keep your muscles tight or compressed while you are exercising. This compression is said to actually improve blood circulation, which speeds up the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the working muscle.
Compression shorts are similar to medical grade garments in that they deliver therapeutic compression that does not restrict your range of movement. As a result of their tightness they are usually 10-15 percent smaller than conventional shorts. They provide a degree of elasticity in the spandex which has been shown to help sprinters to improve their control and action - specifically helping the hamstrings to control the movement of the leg at the end of the swing through. This results in more extension and flexion torque.
Compression shorts limit the level of oscillation of the muscles of the glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings. This limits extraneous muscles motion, making your actions more efficient. This makes you a better athlete by reducing the amount of energy that you are expending. A 2006 study that was published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine showed that hip flexion angle was reduced during a 60 meter sprint for athletes who were wearing compression shorts. In the same study, it was seen that muscle oscillation was decreased during vertical jumps.
Benefits of Compression Shorts
Compression shorts manufacturers claim that they have the following benefits:
- Boost blood circulation
- Decrease post workout soreness
- Increase endurance
- Prevent injury
There is little in the way of scientific evidence to back up these claims. A 2016 study did show that wearing compression shorts improved the endurance of long distance runners.
Compression is something that has been advocated for a long time as part of a post exercise recovery regimen (remember the R.I.C.E acronym - ‘C’ stands for compression). Compression in a worked area will definitely increase the blood flow. This brings more muscle replenishing nutrients and oxygen to the worked area. It also helps to release lactic acid from the muscle to offset delayed onset muscle soreness. This effect is best achieved if you wear your compression shorts not only during but also after your workout.
Wearing compression shorts while you are working may help to keep your form on point, especially when you are doing more ‘technical’ exercises such as squats. This may be more due to psychosomatic effect than anything else - many people feel more in control when they are wearing the shorts.
Compression shorts appear to be especially beneficial for people who are recovering from injury. According to Dr. Girardo Miranda-Comas, a sports medicine physician and assistant professor of the Ichan School of Medicine, ‘For me it makes sense to use during exercise if you're looking for better muscle recruitment. For instance, if you had a hamstring injury and during recovery you want to use it while training.’
Beyond the sports / fitness application, compression shorts have also been seen to be beneficial in helping to prevent deep vein thrombosis, which results from a blood clot forming within a vein.
An immediate benefit of wearing compression shorts is that it will reduce chafing around the groin and upper inner thigh areas. This is a common problem with bodybuilders who have large thighs, especially when they are walking on the treadmill. Many bikers, joggers and marathon runners also have to contend with inner thigh chafing.
Many compression shorts feature moisture wicking properties that can help to control your temperature while working out. They will keep your body dry while absorbing sweat and moisture. This allows the body to cool down more efficiently after the workout, leading to faster recovery time.
The compression short market provides you with a wide range of choice, from high end brand to cheap and nasty rip off. As we’ve identified, however, you don’t have to rely solely on the big name brands to find a quality product at a good price.
The top brand that we have identified are Under Armor Heat Gear Compression Shorts which provide you with stretch mesh gusset, 4-way stretch construction and anti odor technology. Our silver medalist is the Niksa Compression Short, which is moisture wicking, has a loose groin fit and comes in at a great price point. Rounding out our top 3 is the Compressionz Men’s Compression Short, with its 4 way stretch technology moisture wicking and anti odor technology.