Should You Wear Underwear Under Compression Shorts?

When I first bought a pair of compression shorts, I was in the exact spot you are in now, asking whether you should wear underwear under compression shorts. To gather personal experience, I did multiple runs with and without wearing underwear under my compression shorts to find out how they actually feel and came up with a conclusion.

You shouldn’t wear underwear under compression shorts. Wearing underwear is unnecessary because compression shorts already provides the support you need to perform vigorous activities like running. Compression shorts also help prevent chafing making them an ideal replacement for underwear when performing vigorous activities. 

But not everyone is comfortable with not wearing underwear under running shorts prompting the need for underwear. If so, what type of underwear should you wear to still prevent chafing? Ahead, I will give tips on choosing the type of underwear you should wear under compression shorts if ever you need one. But first, let’s talk about why not wearing underwear under compression shorts is ideal.

Why You Shouldn’t Wear Underwear Under Compression Shorts

I’m sure you have experienced getting your cotton underwear drenched in sweat. How does it feel? Yuck, right?

Most underwear is made out of cotton, and cotton underwear absorbs moisture like a sponge. As a result, you get this uncomfortable, moist, and warm feeling.

Moist and warm is a site for bacterial build-up. So if you frequently wear cotton underwear during your workouts and keep them on you for a while, you can expect foul odor to follow, or worst—skin infections.

On one of my runs where I was wearing cotton underwear, I had an embarrassing moment where a friend pointed out a funky odor when we went for a coffee after a 10-mile run. I knew it was me and it was because I’ve kept my wet cotton underwear on longer than I’d like.

If you’ve ever experienced this, you know how embarrassing it feels. But there’s a way to stop the odor. I created a guide on how to stop your workout clothes from smelling in another article.

Regular cotton underwear is also not an ideal garment for running. Aside from the problems with hygiene and comfort that I mentioned above, they are also prone to chafing—skin irritations that result from friction.

Once your cotton underwear absorbed sweat, it loses its “soft cotton feel” and will start to feel rough against your skin. Since running is a very repetitive sport, the seams of your underwear can rub against your groin creating friction that causes chafing.

I’ve had this experience in another run. I was wearing regular cotton underwear and at around the 3-mile mark, I started to feel irritation in my groin area. I just knew I had to get rid of my underwear if I want to continue running, so I went to the back of a bush and took it off. Thankfully, I was wearing compression shorts so I still have support.

These bad experiences with wearing cotton underwear under my shorts prompted me to wear just compression shorts and nothing else. They will do a better job at preventing chafing and keeping you feeling fresh and comfortable.

However, there are times where wearing underwear is necessary, particularly when you’re not wearing compression shorts. There are some high-quality running underwears that are excellent in preventing chafing. I listed 6 of the best running underwear that I’ve tried in a separate article. Be sure to check them out.

Compression Shorts As A Replacement For Underwear

Unlike regular underwear, compression shorts are made of a blend of synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon that don’t absorb sweat and moisture. Instead, they wick it away. This will keep you feeling dry and fresh during your runs.

And since compression shorts are next-to-skin tight, there’s nothing to rub against so there will be no chafing.

On top of that, compression shorts already provide enough support for your genitals making underwear unnecessary. 

Replacing your underwear with baselayer compression shorts will give you improved breathability, freshness, and comfort throughout your runs.

In my older article where I talk about what you should wear under running shorts, I included compression shorts in the list despite them being running shorts themselves. That’s because compression shorts are very versatile and they can be used in multiple situations. If you want to know more about this topic, I suggest you check out that article after reading this one.

The 2 Types Of Compression Shorts

Now that we’ve talked about why wearing underwear under compression shorts isn’t necessary, let’s talk about the two types of compression shorts.

Baselayer compression shorts – these are a type of compression shorts and are meant to be used as underwear—meaning, you should wear shorts on top of them.

However, lots of runners wear them as outerwear which is fine. Most baselayers look modest enough to be worn as outerwear. My favorite is the Under Armour HeatGear Compression Shorts (link to Amazon), they are the perfect compression shorts for warm weather.

Outerwear compression shorts – these type of shorts, on the other hand, replaces the need for both underwear and shorts. In other words, these compression shorts are meant to be worn by themselves.

Outerwear compression shorts look generally more modest than baselayer compression shorts. Some refer to these as half-tights. An example of outerwear compression shorts used for running is the 2XU Light Speed Compression Shorts (link to Amazon).

By the way, if you’re wondering how other people think about running with only compression shorts in public places, I’ve written an article that talks about that in more detail.

The Type Of Underwear You Can Wear under Compression Shorts

Maybe you want the look of compression shorts as outerwear but aren’t really comfortable with not wearing anything under them. In that case, you should choose your underwear carefully.

You should look for underwear made of synthetic fabric and avoid cotton underwear at all costs. Try to find seamless briefs or panties to decrease the risk of chafing.

This kind of underwear is ideal for everything that requires vigorous physical involvement and sweating. Although you don’t have to, you can wear them under your compression shorts if you really want a piece of undergarment under them.

One of the best underwear I’ve worn for running so far is the Runderwear briefs. They’ve worked very well in keeping me chafe-free and fresh during my runs. Although I don’t wear them much when I’m wearing compression shorts, I’ve worn them multiple times in other types of shorts. It’s also available for women on Amazon.

Key Takeaways

So far we’ve covered a lot of things in this short article. To give you a summary of everything we’ve talked about, I listed the key takeaways in bulleted form.

  • Cotton underwear isn’t ideal for running, it can cause chafing, bad odor, and discomfort
  • You don’t have to wear underwear under your compression shorts
  • Your compression shorts can replace your underwear
  • There are two type of compression shorts, baselayers and outerwear

Nicho Mauricio

Running wasn't always my favorite sport. I was a CrossFit athlete and I loved every bit of it. But since the pandemic began, I was forced to stay away from the gym and train at home instead. Things got boring. That's when I decided to trail run with my friends. I instantly got hooked. So I started training and researching all things running. As a beginner, I want to buy only the best running gear and do only the best practices. This blog is where I share what I've learned in my journey and my experiences as a runner.

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