Best Running Spandex Shorts: Reviews and Buying Guide

Running spandex shorts are excellent clothing items for both serious and recreational runners. They give support to your glutes and thighs, help you stay cool and let the sweat evaporate from your skin. Spandex is used in most compression shorts especially for its ability to wick moisture away from the skin.

They can be used as undergarments under running compression shorts or thermal pants. They can be used as underwear during your workouts. This article will give you advice on how to choose the best running spandex shorts. Where should you buy running spandex shorts? What are the features of the best running spandex shorts?

Spandex Shorts: From Obscurity to the NFL

The heyday of spandex shorts came in the 1980s, as people became more conscious of their health and started exercising on their own. Spandex is made of a polyester and polyurethane blend. It is often referred to as elastane. Manufacturers often use the term Lycra, which refers to the same material, but it is the Dupont company’s name for the blend.

Spandex is used for manufacturing a whole line of different compression gear items. It is used for making running compression socks, shirts, and even compression sleeves. It is used together with a lot of different materials, to create cheaper as well as high end workout materials. It is often used together with nylon, or even silicone to create durable, breathable and stretchable workout gear.

The days when spandex shorts were only used by women are over. Nowadays they are used by NBA players as well as NFL players. Running spandex shorts can help increase blood flow as well as recover faster after exercising.

Buying Running Spandex Shorts

The key to buying the best running spandex shorts is the same as with any running gear. You need to find the best item for your budget. The key is being clear on what features are a must for you, and than getting the product with those features that fits into your budget. You need to choose a product that looks good on you too. The style of the spandex shorts is just as important as its design.

There are a wide variety of running spandex shorts on the market. There are premium models with all the bells and whistles you could think of. There are also value models that offer you excellent quality for a small price.

Compression Spandex Shorts

Many compression shorts are made of spandex. What is the difference between compression spandex shorts and regular shorts? Compression shorts help blood circulation. They compress the veins, which makes their diameter smaller, which in turn speeds up blood flow. This effect of compression shorts helps your muscles recover faster, because the lactic acid and other waste materials get washed out of the muscle faster. A study done in Australia confirmed that compression shorts increased lactate clearance from the muscles.

It also helps athletic performance. Although the scientific studies differ on the helpfulness of compression shorts during competition, several studies confirmed the positive effects of compression socks on lowering heart rate, improving time to exhaustion and increasing oxygen uptake during runs.

Spandex compression shorts are often worn by runners as well as professional athletes. They are made of a mix of spandex and nylon or polyester. However most manufacturers have their own knitting technologies which makes most products on the market unique. High end spandex compression shorts often contain a blend of copper infused nylon to make them more hygienic. Copper has natural antibacterial qualities.

Premium running spandex compression shorts are superior in the way their seams are designed. They either have flatlock seams or they are totally seamless. Poorly designed seams cause skin burn and chafing.

The premium compression models usually have strong pressure. They come with larger than 20 mm Hg pressure. mm Hg is a measure of pressure, often used for measuring the strength of compression. Compression shorts come in the following pressure ranges:

0-10 mm Hg: low compression: These spandex shorts are best for preventing circulatory problems.

10-20 mm Hg: medium compression: These products can help your running performance and recovery more. They are excellent for treating varicose veins on your thighs.

20-30 mm Hg: strong compression: These spandex running shorts help circulation the most. They are excellent for both preventing and treating injuries, circulatory diseases and recovering.

over 30 mm Hg: These compression shorts are so strong that they are available only if a doctor prescribes them. They are often used after surgery to treat bed ridden patients.

The best compression running spandex shorts use graduated compression. This compression technology puts the most amount of pressure on the spot just above your knees, and the pressure slightly subsides as the shorts get higher on your legs. This helps the veins transport the blood where they have to fight the pull of gravity the most. Graduated compression helps blood circulation without side effects.

Workout Spandex Shorts

There are models on the market that don’t come with compression technology. These are suitable as underwear, or for yoga, working out in the gym or aerobics. They are just as comfortable as their counterparts with compression technology, however they don’t have any effects on your blood circulation.

In my opinion these spandex shorts are often not as well designed. Their seams are of inferior quality. The bands that hold them to your thighs are sometimes too strong. They leave a mark on your skin. In my experience it is better to spend more on premium quality spandex compression shorts, than spending half the price, but ending up with a product that is uncomfortable. If you don’t feel good in them, you are not going to wear them. In that case the money you spent on them is wasted.

Cheap Spandex Running Shorts

These are the spandex shorts you see most often. They are stretchable, don’t restrict your range of motion and come in a variety of different styles. You can see many of them if you go to an aerobic class. They are often used as a base layer when working out in cold weather. I have a few of these at home, they are good to pull out of the cupboard when I haven’t washed my favourite compression spandex shorts and I need to go running. I use them as emergency options. They are not very well designed, they don’t come in a variety of styles, but every once in a while they are ok and they get the job done.

The Best Running Spandex Shorts

There is no one single model that could be labelled the best running spandex shorts. Every person’s situation is different. How much do you exercise? Do you want a model with compression, or without? Which colours do you like? And most importantly, what is your budget? I am not a fan of overspending on anything, and you can get decent quality shorts for a small price. However if you go running almost every single day, investing in a top quality spandex running short is worth it.

2XU Men’s Elite Compression Shorts

These shorts are made of a blend of lycra and nylon, which ensures stretchability and comfort. They are excellent for getting the most out of yourself while running, as well as recovering between workouts. You can wear them alone as your workout shorts. They are tight and sit comfortably around your thighs so you can wear them as a base layer under your running pants. They are machine washable, which is a huge plus. You can save a lot of time by not having to hand wash them between workouts. They can’t be tumble dried, so drying them out will take a bit of time. The graduated pressure technology gives you performance benefits during exercise. It reduces fatigue after workouts, and improves circulation overall.

Champion Men’s Powerflex Compression Short

This compression short is made of a blend of polyester and spandex. What I love about them is that they keep your skin dry during workouts. They are very breathable. This is due to the quick-drying champion vapour technology, which evaporates moisture fast. This is aided by Champion’s moisture management technology, which wicks moisture away from the skin. The flat lock seams protect your skin against chafing and rashes. They are machine washable. Some reviews suggest they can be machine dried.

Nike Men’s Pro Shorts

Made of 90 % polyester with 10 % spandex. Nike’s signature Drive-FIT technology helps you stay dry and comfortable during your workouts. The mush gusset adds ventilated support to keep you cool and comfortable. Comes with a 6-inch inseam. The elastic waistband at the top keeps the short fitting to your body perfectly. It stretches perfectly to take up the contour of your waist. Some reviews complain that they are a bit on the tight side. However I have found them to hold just fine. I like it if my shorts are a little bit tight, they give better support to my thighs and my glutes.

Baleaf Women’s Running Shorts

Made of a breathable material mix, that lets your skin breathe. These lightweight shorts wick away moisture from your skin, and dry quickly. This keeps you comfortable even during long runs. It comes with a back pocket, where you can store your phone or car keys. I love the reflective visibility strips on the sides of the shorts. These reflect back the car lights. If you like running during the night, these are the perfect shorts for you. Available in eight different colours.

Homma Women’s Running Shorts

These running shorts come with a tummy control band. This band is a stretchable, wide waste that helps shape your body and gives more structure to it. They are tight fitting around your legs and butt, but they are especially tight at your stomach. They have no distinct crotch are, and have a seamless design. This makes them very comfortable. The shorts put graduated compression on your skin, enhancing blood flow. This helps you recover faster and get better results during your workouts. Made of non see-through materials, and available in 24 different colours.


There are many different spandex shorts on the market. Some are graduated compression spandex running shorts, while others have no compression technology at all. I hope you could find the model you were looking for in one of the five models chose here as the best running spandex shorts.

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