Running is a great way to get outdoors, stay active and keep fit, but it can also lead to sore muscles and blisters. To prevent these issues, it’s important to choose the right gear for your runs. In addition to the right shoe, you need comfortable and breathable running shorts or tights. While many runners swear by compression shorts, others believe they’re nothing more than gimmicks that don’t boost performance. Which is the best choice?

The best way to determine whether you need compression shorts is to understand what the difference between them and regular running shorts is. Regular running shorts are typically looser and less form fitting, which makes them easier to move in when you’re running. This can be an advantage if you’re looking for comfort and flexibility over speed or endurance. However, the looser fit can also lead to riding up and chafing during your run.

Unlike traditional running shorts, compression shorts are designed to be more form fitting and provide compression in the areas covered by the shorts—usually the thighs and butt. This can help reduce muscle pain and stiffness after a run and encourage blood circulation during your workout. The compression also helps to prevent chafing by creating a barrier between the skin and your underwear.

Compression shorts can also be made with different materials, depending on your preferences and needs. Some are made with a lightweight, quick-drying fabric that’s ideal for hot weather and high intensity workouts. They’re often marketed as “moisture-wicking,” meaning the material pulls sweat away from the skin and evaporates quickly to keep you dry and comfortable during your run. Other options include the Twinskin construction from Salomon, which combines a fitted stretch inner short with a loose overshort without overlapping at the crotch to reduce friction and discomfort during your run.

Whether you need compression shorts or traditional running shorts will depend on your preferences and needs. If you’re a beginner, you may find that looser running shorts offer more flexibility and range of motion than compression shorts, which are more snug and form fitting. On the other hand, if you’re an elite runner, it might be worth investing in compression shorts to help you perform at your best and recover faster after your workout. Whatever your preference, there are plenty of great options to suit your individual needs and goals.

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