Wearing Only Compression Shorts In Public: Is It Okay?

I love compression shorts, but when I first started running I was never confident enough to wear them without wearing another pair of regular shorts on top of them in public. I wanted to know if compression shorts alone is acceptable in public so I sent out a poll to my followers and scoured through Facebook groups and forums and here’s what I found:

On average, 88% of people think that wearing compression shorts or tights alone in public is okay. Women are more comfortable wearing compression shorts or tights than men. Men are more likely to wear another pair of shorts on top of compression shorts when running in public. 

However, you should always observe how the people around you react. Not all cultures are accustomed to seeing men or women wearing only compression shorts outdoors. Ahead, we will talk more about wearing compression shorts in public and the common reasons why some people don’t wear them without cover. We’ll also talk about why compression shorts are great for running and how you can wear them with confidence.

Why Compression Shorts?

Compression shorts have been around for a long time but until recently, compression shorts weren’t popular outdoor wear, most especially for men. However, things are changing. More and more athletes see the benefits of wearing compression shorts and it’s becoming a more common outdoor sports wear for both men and women.

So what’s up with compression shorts and why are they so good?

  • They’re generally more comfortable – Less excess fabric, generally feels cooler, dries fast, and provide muscle compression. Compression shorts are probably the most comfortable types of running shorts I’ve ever worn.
  • Improves endurance – A 2016 study concluded that wearing compression shorts may improve endurance partially because of its positive effects on the running economy, perception, and muscle temperature.
  • Reduce muscle soreness – The same study also concluded that wearing compression shorts resulted in reduced muscle pain, damage, and inflammation, thereby reducing delayed onset muscle soreness.
  • No chafing – If you’ve been running long distances, you know that chafing in the thigh area is bound to happen at some point. Wearing compression shorts eliminates chafing in a way that no other type of shorts can.

That said, compression shorts are popular amongst athletes because of the said benefits. Athletes wear them ALL THE TIME. Basketball players wear it, tennis players wear it, and other athletes in other sports, professional or nonprofessional wear it. But not everyone wears compression shorts by themselves. Usually, it’s worn under another pair of baggy shorts.

Why People Aren’t Wearing Only Compression Shorts In Public

To find out why some runners prefer to wear shorts on top of their compression shorts instead of wearing just compression shorts, I asked people I know, posted on Facebook groups, and searched through forums, and here are the common reasons.

  • Afraid of being judged – 2 of the people (male) I’ve asked wear another pair of shorts on top of their compression shorts because they are afraid of being judged as “attention seekers” or “someone who just want to flash their junk”.
  • Feeling unworthy of wearing compression shorts – For some, wearing just compression shorts is a sign of being advanced or elite. They are willing to wear compression shorts alone but only if they look fit enough.
  • Shyness – In a forum I read, one user, said that he’s just shy and uncomfortable with not wearing another pair of shorts on top of his compression shorts when running in public.
  • Unsure if it’s acceptable – A common question that pops up in forums is whether or not it’s acceptable to run with just compression shorts in public.
  • Different culture – While most of the western world are generally accustomed to seeing people running in compression garments, other parts of the world aren’t as accustomed to seeing people run in compression shorts or tights

To be clear, wearing compression shorts in public has become more common these days. Here, I’m only referring to those runners who choose to wear shorts on top of their compression shorts.

Also, most of the runners that responded are male runners. Female runners seem to be more comfortable running with compression shorts or tights compared to male runners.

What Do The Public Say About Wearing Compression Shorts In Public?

I ran a poll on my social media accounts asking the question “Is it okay for both men and women to wear only compression shorts as bottoms when running in public?”. 219 out of 249 respondents said yes. That’s 88% of the total respondents. 

I also gathered information from forums as to what they think with men only wearing only compression shorts as bottoms when running in public and here are the most relevant answers that came up:

  • It’s okay as long as the compression shorts are a bit thicker and not meant to be an underwear
  • If you’re comfortable wearing it, you should
  • If you look serious in running enough and not just someone who likes to “flaunt it”
  • Yes, if you’ve done it, you’ll notice that no one will ever notice
  • If women can wear them, there’s no reason for men not to wear them

Note that I already reworded them and compiled several viewpoints into one answer.

The Type Of Compression Short You Should Wear In Public

I made it clear throughout this article that wearing only compression shorts as running gear is okay, but you have to be careful in choosing the type of compression shorts or garment you wear.

As a general rule, you should check the tag in your compression shorts whether they are meant to be used as boxer briefs, baselayers, or shorts.  

Some garments look like compression shorts but are really boxer briefs meant to be used as underwear. They are thinner and sometimes even see-through when wet. Other times they are even made of cotton. You should NEVER wear boxer briefs without wearing another pair of shorts. They aren’t meant to be an athletic wear.

You may also come across baselayers which are the ones used under loose shorts. Some people wear these shorts as outerwear (I do sometimes) but they are meant to be worn inside another shorts.

What you should wear are compression shorts like the 2XU compression shorts that are meant to be used as sports shorts. They are thicker and they generally look more modest than baselayers.

How To Be More Confident In Wearing Just Compression Shorts?

Like you, I wasn’t confident wearing compression shorts without wearing other shorts on top of it in public. But after a few mindset shifts and compromises designed to make me feel more comfortable with wearing them in public, I now run most of the time in compression shorts.

  • Wear a longer shirt – This generally applies to men. If the main reason why you don’t want to wear compression shorts is being afraid of attracting eyes to your manhood, wearing longer shirts easily solves that problem.
  • Know that no one’s going to care – After you’ve been running in them for a while, you’ll notice that nobody really cares. I know cause I’ve been there.
  • Wear black compression shorts – I don’t know if it’s just me, but I think black compression shorts look more modest than lighter colors. Use them to your advantage.
  • Just do your thing – Rather than thinking what other people think and acting insecure, you should really just do your thing. Focus on your run. People will see you as a hard-working individual working towards your goals and not mind your compression shorts

Should You Wear Underwear Under Your Compression Shorts?

As a general rule, compression shorts should be worn next to your skin. That said, you shouldn’t wear underwear under your running shorts.

Wearing underwear, particularly cotton ones, isn’t designed for activities like running. They will cause chafing and discomfort. Plus, they are a moist and warm which could be a site for bacterial build-up.

Compression shorts provide enough support for your genitals and replace the need for underwear. Plus, they prevent chafing, dry quickly, and are more breathable.

I made an article answering the question “what to wear under running shorts” in another article. Check it out.

Hey, if you’re looking for the perfect running gear and you’re having a hard time choosing one, I’ve compiled a list of my favorites below.

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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