You probably have seen professional athletes on television with compression gear or other hikers out on the trail with compression shorts and have wondered if compression shorts can help them, can they also be good for hiking? I have been on many trails and have noticed an increase in the number of hikers wearing compression gear which got me curious about if it actually helps.
Compression shorts are good for hiking and provide many great benefits such as reducing muscle fatigue, lowering chances of muscle strain, and preventing chafing while hiking.
As someone who has hiked in normal hiking pants for many years, after doing extensive research and trying a pair of compression shorts myself, I realized there are also other added benefits of compression shorts. There are also many key considerations to think about before buying your first pair so you can maximize the benefits during your hikes.
How Compression Shorts Help While Hiking
Reduce Muscle Fatigue
As you are hiking and moving your legs over dirt trails, boulders, logs, and more, you can experience a lot of muscle fatigue during and after your hike. Compression shorts work by constricting movement and hugging the areas of your leg which can lead to improved blood flow in your legs. This improved blood flow in the legs on your hikes can result in reduced muscle fatigue.
This reduction in muscle fatigue means you will be able to hike more challenging hikes or hike just a bit further. When the hike you chose is tough, every little thing helps.
Lower Chances of Strain
When you are out on the trails there are many potential obstacles such as scrambling, elevation change, and steep inclines that could potentially cause you to overextend and strain your leg. Compression shorts will hug your legs tightly which in turn will restrict a wider range of motion of your legs, thus lowering the chances of straining your legs on your hikes.
There have been times on the trail where I’ve had to reach my legs over or up something to advance on the trail and wished I had something like compression shorts at the time to make sure I don’t overdo it. Now when I wear compression shorts I can feel if I am overextending or not which help me be mindful and not to strain myself too much.
Prevent Chafing While Hiking
If you have ever been on a long hike with loose shorts then you might have experienced chafing on the legs as your shorts and legs rub together as you hike. Since compression shorts contour your legs very tightly and generally do not move as you are hiking, then you will be able to prevent chafing on your legs during your hikes thanks to the compression shorts. This will allow you to hike without having to worry about your skin being irritated from your pants.
How Compression Shorts Help After Hiking
Reduce Muscle Soreness
Whether you are starting out hiking on short hikes or are tackling challenging day hikes, you will likely experience muscle soreness as a hiker. The main idea behind compression gear is constricting the muscles which leads to increased blood flow. This increased blood flow helps reduce lactic acid build-up which is responsible for muscle soreness. Hiking is a challenging and physical activity that pushes your legs as you make your way through the trails.
Research has shown that compression gear has helped with a reduction in muscle soreness. As the compression shorts constrict your muscles on your hiking days, then you will be able to experience less lactic acid build-up. With less lactic acid build-up on your legs then you will experience less muscle soreness. This is something to keep in mind for more challenging hikes as you will be straining your legs even more and any bit of reduction in soreness will be helpful on the days following your hike.
Improve Muscle Recovery
After a long day’s hike your legs can feel exhausted and beat, however by wearing compression shorts you can improve your muscle recovery. As you hike and work out leg muscles, your muscles can become inflamed. This inflammation is caused by white blood cells and fluid working its way to those muscles, but by wearing compression shorts, your muscles are constricted which will reduce the amount of fluid entering that area, thus reducing the swelling and inflammation.
What to look for when choosing Compression Shorts
While there are many great benefits provided by compression shorts, not all compression shorts are equal. There are a few key things you should consider before buying your first pair.
The first and most important thing when considering buying compression shorts is what material they are made of. You want to look for non-cotton materials that are also moisture-wicking. You want to avoid cotton because if it gets wet during your hikes it will be nearly impossible to dry and you will be uncomfortable.The moisture-wicking will keep sweat from building up as you hike.
The next thing to keep in mind is if the compression shorts are breathable. Since compression shorts are very tight you want your legs to be able to breathe so you can be comfortable on your hikes. If the shorts are not breathable then your legs will feel very hot and sweaty on hiking day. Be sure to check if your compression shorts are breathable.
Another important factor to keep in mind if your compression shorts provide sun protection. If you are hiking during the day then you can potentially get sunburn on your legs, especially at higher altitudes. There are compression shorts that have a UV coating that helps protect you against the harmful rays of the sun.
The last, but not least important factor to consider is if the compression shorts you are looking at providing any pockets to store your personal belongings. There are compression shorts with and without shorts, but if you want a pair of shorts where you can store your items then find shorts with pockets.
Compression shorts are a great item to add to your hiking gear as it provides many wonderful benefits. Wearing compression shorts can make a big difference both during your hike and after your hike. You wouldn’t initially think that something so minor such as shorts could provide so many benefits to hikers.
The main idea behind compression shorts is to constrict your leg muscles, improve blood flood, and decrease the bad fluids from building up. Compression shorts help with muscle fatigue, reducing strain, avoiding chafing, and post-hike muscle recovery. This improvement in blood flow and muscle constriction is perfect for hikers as it targets the legs and helps offset the strain as you hike.
With so many benefits to compression shorts, there are still some key things to think about before buying your compression shorts. Consider the material, breathability, sun protection, and potential storage options before you make your purchase as all compression shorts are not the same. Now you know the great benefits of compression shorts and what to consider, enjoy your hikes with your new compression shorts!