Can You Wear Compression Shorts Out?

man wears compression short

Compression shorts are a staple in the wardrobe of many active individuals. They tout many benefits both during and after exercising, so it’s only natural that people want to keep wearing them for the rest of the day.

You can wear compression shorts out. Because they’re technically innerwear, many people feel uncomfortable wearing them in public. However, they’ve become acceptable as outerwear. Compression shorts provide benefits to the wearer during and after physical activity.

Compression shorts are tight-fitting clothing with sturdy construction. They are designed to be used by athletes and active people of all kinds. Although they may seem like innerwear at first glance, they have become acceptable as outerwear over time. 

Wearing Compression Shorts in Public

For many, wearing compression shorts in public comes down to preference and comfort. Some people may feel uncomfortable or self-conscious wearing such snug-fitting clothing in public. 

Compression shorts are meant to be worn directly against the skin. In other words, they are worn without any underwear. More often than not, compression shorts are classified as underwear. This is the main reason that keeps many people from wearing compression shorts in public.

It’s become increasingly normal to see people wear only compression shorts in the gym and other athletic spaces. However, it’s just as common to see them peeking out under trainer shorts.

You can wear compression shorts outside of the gym and into public spaces. However, if you decide to do so, you may want to consider layering them with something on top. In any case, compression shorts would only be appropriate for very relaxed settings.

Man running outdoor sprinting

Layering Compression Shorts

Because compression shorts are snug-fitting and designed to be worn next to the skin, they serve well as a base layer.

It’s not unusual to see runners and people in the gym wearing a looser pair of shorts over their compression shorts. It is a conservative way to wear compression shorts.

The most common combination for layering compression shorts is simply adding trainers on top. You can also use shorter athletic shorts, but they won’t look as good outside the gym.

If you want a quick layer to put on after leaving the gym, you can also consider Bermuda shorts, which should cover the entirety of your compression shorts.

Layering Compression Tights

Layering over compression tights is also extremely common. Depending on the temperature, you can layer loose shorts on top of compression tights. For when it’s cold outside, athletic pants or windbreakers can be also layered over compression tights.

Compression tights can be easily styled with t-shirt and sports shoes. You can also dress them up with a dress top and heels.

How Long Should You Wear Compression Shorts?

You can wear compression shorts for extended periods as long as they are not too tight. However, there are no additional benefits to wearing compression clothing for hours.

Evidence suggests that compression shorts have physiological benefits to athletes and active people, putting them in the right mindset for exercising. After the workout is over, compression shorts continue to benefit the wearer, helping with muscle recovery and reducing muscle soreness. 

How Compression Shorts Should Fit

Compression shorts are typically made from a polyester and spandex blend, which is durable yet lightweight. They also wick sweat away from the wearer. But, most importantly, compression shorts are tight-fitting. 

run race athlete running man sprinting fast profile sideways against white wall outdoor background. Male runner training glutes and legs muscles

Perhaps the most crucial factor for compression shorts is fit. They must be tight but never too tight, especially at the waist. Compression shorts that are too tight in the waist put excessive pressure on the abdomen, which could potentially force stomach acid up into the esophagus and cause heartburn. If you have reflux or are prone to reflux episodes, tight compression shorts can worsen the condition.

Benefits of Wearing Compression Shorts

Compression shorts compress the muscles, supporting them and increasing circulation. In combination, these characteristics provide several benefits to the wearer. 

Decreases Muscle Soreness

Compression shorts can delay the onset of muscle soreness and sometimes eliminate it altogether. They are particularly effective at reducing muscle soreness during and after a workout. Thanks to reduced muscle soreness during exercise, you can continue the activity for longer periods. 

Improves Muscle Oxygenation

Your muscles require oxygen throughout workouts, and compression shorts are designed to provide exactly that. Because they improve circulation, they also enhance the volume of oxygen delivered to your muscles. An increase in muscle oxygenation improves muscle function, leading to more effective workouts. 

Faster Muscle Recovery

Exercising, particularly strength training, breaks down your muscles and allows them to grow back stronger. Compression shorts speed up the muscle rebuilding process. The snug fit of compression shorts increases blood pressure, which plays an essential role in rebuilding muscle. 

Improves Performance

Whether you want to increase your strength, jump higher or become more flexible, compression shorts could help with all of these. This can be attributed to the elasticity of compression shorts, which allows for more flexion and tension torque. Improved circulation may also increase endurance in activities like running.

Provides Comfort

Compression shorts fit snugly and compress the muscles. Meanwhile, other workout garments tend to be looser. Looser clothing can cause friction and chafing, which can prove to be very uncomfortable.

Compression shorts don’t ride while exercising, which is another huge benefit. Instead, they support the muscles and joints from the waistband down to the leg hem. 


Compression shorts can certainly be worn out. Some compression shorts wearers prefer to layer a pair of loose shorts on top for a more conservative look. If you plan to wear compression shorts out and for more extended periods, make sure they are not too tight.

If you want to make your compression shorts more suitable for social settings, simply layer looser shorts on top of them.

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