Last Updated on March 12, 2021 by Samuel Waihenya
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The importance of things like sports science and player fitness to football clubs has grown exponentially over the last few decades.
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was a large proponent of the meticulous approach to training sessions that a number of Premier League football clubs now employ.
He pioneered a shift from warm-ups and drills that placed focus on building stamina to new methods of stretching and routines that sharpened each player’s ball control and passing skills.
More so, he was able to transform Arsenal’s dietary and nutritional practices, replacing cafeteria meals like burgers and chips with healthier options like fish, chicken, mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables.
The blueprint had been set.
Now every football club looks to give their players every possible sporting advantage – legally of course – however miniscule that may be.
So, it doesn’t come as much surprise to me when I notice several footballers wearing compression shorts during competitive matches.
With the shorts said to offer numerous health and performance benefits, their gradual adoption across the world’s biggest football leagues is inevitable.
After conducting my own research on the wide variety of options available, I’ve been able to narrow down the best football compression shorts to a list of 5:
Under Armour Heat Gear Compression Shorts
Lixada Performance Compression Shorts
TCA Men's Pro Performance Compression Shorts
2XU Men's Run Compression Shorts
Nike Men's 6 Inch Cool Compression Shorts
The Under Armour Men's Heat Gear Compression Shorts are my pick for best of the bunch because, not only do they effectively “do what they say on the tin” by providing good compression for the thigh muscles, they are also supremely comfortable and do an excellent job of regulating lower body temperature.
And to add onto that, they are great in terms of longevity, as washing them by hand or via the machine doesn’t lead to a deterioration in the elasticity of the fabric.
But before I offer an analysis of the specific features that each of the aforementioned options bring to the table, I will start by outlining what compression shorts are, prior to delivering a bit of research-backed evidence that pertains to the advantages they are said to provide for the human body.
So, let’s begin…
What are compression shorts?
These are garments woven with spandex-type fibres that are normally worn underneath a normal pair of sports/exercise shorts.
They stick to the wearer’s body due to the elasticity (or stretchiness) of the fabric and provide pressure in the areas that they cover – the glutes and thighs.
Because they fit so tightly around the skin, athletes are said to generally benefit by way of reduced susceptibility to injuries and improved performance.
Benefits of compression shorts
I’m now going to expound on the previously mentioned benefits that the best football compression shorts are said to provide.
Reduced muscle fatigue
Tiredness can sometimes be a significant impediment to optimal performance on the pitch.
I can recall the amount of times where I couldn’t make a forward run to drag a defender out of position because I was too gassed.
Believe it or not, this happens to professional athletes too, albeit at a much smaller scale.
This is where compression garments come in to save the day.
They are said to combat the onset of muscle fatigue by applying balanced surface pressure to specific body parts, which triggers accelerated blood flow and increased oxygen delivery to specific muscle groups, ultimately allowing athletes to work at higher intensities for longer time periods.
Enhanced running performance
If you’ve played amateur-level football as much as I have, you’ll know that winning a short foot race against your opponent in a convincing fashion is vital for your bragging rights.
For the professionals, being able to outrun the opposition has more pronounced sporting and financial implications.
Being able to chase onto a loose ball and assist the winning goal in a cup final is a good example that illustrates what is at stake for the players and their clubs.
A 2016 study came to the conclusion that compression clothing slightly improves running economy and effectively regulates the muscle temperature of an athlete.
In addition to this, the Journal of Sports Sciences also published some interesting findings in regard to the effects that these garments have on the human body, as they indicate that directional compression shorts provide ample support to the hip adductor muscles which are an important part of the human anatomy that promotes smooth movement.
So, you can see why players and clubs are gradually adopting this sort of sports gear, as the performance advantages are certainly quite pronounced.
Factors to consider when buying football compression shorts
Having detailed the benefits that an athlete stands to gain from wearing compression shorts, it’s now time to talk about a few things that need to be considered as part of the buying process.
Let’s get started…
Take it from me, compression shorts are not pretty to look at if you manage to snag the wrong fit.
Size is so important here.
Not only does a baggy or excessively tight pair of compression shorts make the wearer feel uncomfortable when they jog or sprint, it also affects the person’s performance focus.
You will be so busy trying to adjust the shorts during the game that it can impact your ability to anticipate opposition movements or your own opportunities to shuttle forward on the pitch.
Therefore, in order to get compression shorts in the right size, you will need to take a measurement of the thinnest part of your waist and inseam, before comparing those specifications against the size charts provided by the manufacturer of the compression shorts that you’re looking to purchase.
Size does go hand in hand with comfort, but with the latter there is more emphasis on the material of the shorts.
Be sure to check the manufacturer specifications for the material that was used to stitch the shorts together.
You wouldn’t want to purchase a pair that cause skin irritation or itchiness as you wear them, and you will want shorts that have wicking properties incorporated into the material, as this greatly improves the fabric’s ability to manage moisture such as sweat that is produced to considerable amounts during competitive action.
And finally, a word on durability.
As this is a piece of gear that you’re likely to be wearing regularly, you need to take into account whether the compression shorts that you’re set on buying are able to withstand several months of being stretched with great frequency.
In training sessions and competitive games, you will be expected perform sharp movements like making sliding tackles and last-ditch blocks/interceptions, and these sorts of actions will test the quality of the fabric that the compression shorts were designed with.
So, consult customer reviews as much as you can and don’t rely on the brand as an overall indicator of a product’s long lastingness, as these days the gap in quality control between the smaller manufacturers and the former has narrowed quite considerably.
With all that said, it’s now time to dive in to the top recommendations.
1. Under Armour Men’s Heat Gear Compression Shorts
- Running and Training – The light running trousers are elasticated and feel like a second skin. They are the ideal base layer for sport on cold days.
- Light and Comfortable – With the robust and light HeatGear fabric, the functional underwear offers all the advantages of UA compression and fits well.
- Quick drying – Sweat is drawn away from the skin by the fabric of the thermal leggings – they dry quickly and stay cool due to the smart net inserts.
Trent Alexander Arnold being one of the prominent faces of this brand tells you a fair bit about their endorsement.
Under Armour have crafted together a great pair of compression shorts here using a material combination that consists of 79% polyester and 21% elastane.
What’s more is that the material is designed to stretch in all four directions (up, down, left and right) and the ergonomic design has solid stitching reinforced around areas that are susceptible to particular strain when worn and used by an athlete.
These compression shorts also feature strategically positioned net inserts in the gusset and inseam areas, that provide extra cooling and ventilation which is so important for an athlete’s comfort.
Under Armour’s focus on customer satisfaction cannot be questioned here, as they’ve also incorporated a 5-centimetre-wide elastic waistband that subtly adjusts to the body shape of the wearer for greater comfort.
To top it all off, the material contains moisture wicking properties which ensure that sweat is taken away from the athlete’s skin and dried quickly, not to mention the thermal heating component that makes this product ideal for use on those cold and windy days.
2. Nike Men’s 6 Inch Compression Shorts
- Dry-FIT Technology helps keep you dry and comfortable
- Ergonomic seams and stretch fabric provide a natural feel
- Mesh panels at the front and inside leg offer zoned ventilation
The sports clothing juggernaut unsurprisingly makes my shortlist of the best football compression shorts.
Nike’s base layer shorts are designed to sit tight on the body, which promotes more holistic movement of the body as the shorts positionally adjust in unison with the athlete.
The dry-fit polyester material does the job of keeping sweat away from athlete’s skin and special mesh panels are incorporated within the design to promote better airflow. These two things combine to keep the athlete cool and dry whilst in competitive action.
And last but not least, the wide stretch waist – with Nike design print details – enhances comfort as its elastic functionality alleviates any circumferential pressure that an athlete could encounter from a tight fit.
3. TCA Men’s Pro Performance Compression Shorts
- The UK’s #1 compression brand. Technical compression short built form our signature fabric. Ideal as a base layer for running, training and other outdoor sports. Endorsed by professional athletes.
- Light and tight compression fit supports key muscles, increasing power and reducing recovery times. 4-way stretch allows you full range of movement without restriction.
- Stay warm: sits next to the body and acts as a second skin, helping keep you warm in even the coldest conditions.
TCA is a sports clothing brand that works in tandem with professional athletes and coaches, designing, developing and testing products for a period of 12 months before launching them to the general public.
Their gear is worn and endorsed by top athletes across multiple professional sports disciplines and they have been able to reach more than 2 million customers worldwide.
The compression shorts they’ve designed here are built to contour the body with ample support given to key muscle areas, thereby enhancing athlete performance levels and reducing fatigue.
Flat lock seams are embedded into the short’s architecture to eliminate chafing, in conjunction with an elasticated waistband that ensures for a cosy fit.
The fabric itself – comprised of 88% polyester and 12% elastane – effectively wicks sweat away from the skin, allowing it to evaporate on the surface, which ultimately keeps the athlete cool and dry.
The combination of features outlined above makes them a good compression short option for not just footballers, but also runners and people who play other forms of outdoor sport.
However, if you’re on a tighter budget you could have a look at snagging the instead. They come with flat lock seams, air mesh panel and ergonomic pattern design to maximize athlete mobility.
More so, the Tesla compression shorts safeguard your skin through ultraviolet (UV) ray protection and the fabric also wicks away moisture to good effect.
4. Lixada Compression Shorts
- ★【High Quality】85% polyester & 15% spandex, wicks sweat away to keep you dry.Non-abrasion fabric material has excellent durability and will not tear due to high intensity exercise. Machine washable.
- ★【High Performance Compression】High performance compression with excellent elasticity. Compression fit for increased mobility and muscle support.
- ★【Good Design 】The ergonomic seam design prevents rubbing against your skin, and the elastic fabric fits snugly for added comfort.Flatlock seams reduce skin irritation for ultimate comfort.Wide elastic waistband offers a snug, secure fit.
The Lixada brand are a bit of a unique case when it comes to their compression shorts.
For starters, they are selling these in a pack of 3, meaning that a buyer will get 2 extra pairs of compression shorts in different colours for the price of 1.
Not bad if you ask me!
What also makes these shorts stand out is that they come with exterior pockets on either side, measuring 5.5 inches in height by 3.5 inches in weight.
That’s just enough room to store a couple of things like mobile phones and bank cards, which are items that you will want to have on your person when you’re going for a run.
The non-abrasive fabric material – consisting of 85% polyester and 15% spandex – wicks away sweat and promotes comfortable movement in all 4 directions.
In addition to this, the ergonomic seam design prevents the rubbing of the fabric against the wearer’s skin, which makes running in these compression shorts a pleasant experience to say the least.
5. 2XU Men’s Run Compression Shorts
- MUSCLE CONTAINMENT STAMPING: PWX fabric combined with Muscle Containment Stamping (MCS) significantly reduces muscle movement, damage and fatigue.
- ESSENTIAL STORAGE: Three rear pockets - Large pocket for your phone, zip pocket for cards and keys + mesh pocket for gels and other items
- BE SEEN: Reflective logos on thigh provide visibility in low-light conditions.
Completing the list is the compression shorts sold by the brand called 2XU.
The material composition on these is certainly quite interesting.
It contains 72% polyamide and 28% elastane that works in conjunction with muscle containment stamping (MCS) to significantly reduce excessive muscle movement, which greatly lowers the chance of injury and prolongs the onset of fatigue.
A drawstring waistband is in-built for a secure fit and, just like the Lixada shorts, these come with 3 pockets situated at the rear.
One is big enough for an athlete to store their mobile phone whereas the other mesh pockets are great for storing things like gels and small hand sanitizers.
2XU has also taken into consideration the fact that footballers and other athletes do take part in sporting activities after the sun has set.
Situated on the thigh area of these compression shorts is a reflective logo that is meant to provide visibility in low-light conditions.
Quite superb thinking from them!
Lastly, they’ve incorporated anti-odour technology into the shorts that keeps the athlete fresher for a longer period of time between washes, reducing environmental footprint in the process.
Frequently Asked Questions
I’m anticipating that a couple of you reading this will have a few questions about compression shorts.
So, in this section I’ll try to provide a few answers to the common ones.
Is it bad for guys to wear compression shorts?
Obviously because of the nature of the male anatomy, there will be concerns that wearing compression shorts can have an adverse effect on a person’s reproductive health.
There isn’t much substantial evidence claiming they aren’t good to wear, although a sports Medicine Director called Philip Skiba – who spoke to the Men’s Journal – claimed that these shorts pinch the nerves and hold moisture in the folds around the groin.
But the benefits that I pointed out and backed up with relevant literature should tell you that these shorts boost your performance levels on the pitch.
Can I wear compression shorts all day?
You won’t do yourself any particular harm by wearing compression shorts for the whole day, but you need to bear in mind your own comfort level and switch to something more loose fitting if you begin to experience a bit of discomfort.
How do I clean compression shorts?
You can wash them either by hand or through the use of a washing machine.
If you choose the latter, it’s important to place the garments in a mesh lingerie bag to prevent snagging; use the gentle spin cycle and never use hot water.
You’ll also want to ensure that once it’s washed, you give it more than enough time to dry completely.
From past experience, wearing them when they’re still a bit damp creates a bit of a breeding ground for body odour to develop.
And it’s a wrap!
I have to give the winner’s medal to the Under Armour Compression Shorts because they offer a good amount of what they were built for – compression – whilst at the same time being easy to wash and effective at regulating lower body temperature in an athlete.
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Until next time!