Do compression shorts prevent injuries?

Compression shorts are tight-fitting shorts that offer less resistance and less skin chafing during athletic activity. They also may provide muscle compression, support, muscle heat circulation to get and keep muscles warm, strain distribution and absorption of direct impact. These effects may contribute to a decreased chance of injury.
Compression shorts deserve special consideration by overweight or obese exercisers. Many overweight individuals tend to avoid wearing compression shorts, or any kind of compression clothing. The objection usually goes something like "I'll never wear tight shorts, they make me feel like an over-stuffed sausage!"  Although it's not recommended to wear something that makes you uncomfortable during your workout, obese people may obtain extra benefits from wearing compression clothing while exercising.

When an overweight or obese person exercises, parts of the body will tend to rub against one another-- the inner thighs may rub together, the inner arms may rub agains the chest, etc.  John Bingham, author of "Running for Mortals," calls this condition the dreaded "chub rub." Anything that rubs will chafe-- the skin will turn red, and can develop a painful rash that may also bleed. When chafing leads to a break in the skin, there's always an increased chance for infection.  Because of the friction, overweight and obese people are also more likely than others to develop skin tags-- bits of skin which stick up from the surrounding skin, sometimes with a stalk.
Skin tags are benign (non-cancerous) growths which tend to occur where skin rubs against skin or clothing-- on the base of the neck, underarms, under the breasts (especially where a woman's sports bra rubs directly under the breasts), the groin area, and between the thighs.  Skin tags can be very painful, and can bleed when they are repeatedly irritated.  Although chafing and skin tags are not especially dangerous, you won't feel especially interested in working out when you have them.

Enter Compression Shorts: these are tight-fitting shorts that are made from special fabrics designed to minimize resistance and wick moisture.  If you have "chub rub," compression shorts provide double protection-- they help keep the skin dry, and they offer a physical barrier which prevents skin rubbing skin.  Since compression clothing can reduce friction, it may also reduce the chances of developing skin tags.

Despite these benefits, overweight people may still feel self-conscious about wearing compression clothing.  Jayne Williams, author of "Slow Fat Triathlete" recommends that plus-sized athletes "dare to wear spandex."  Bodies- even large ones- are meant to move, and compression clothing can be one way to help our bodies move more freely.    

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.