top of page
Athletes running in activewear.
  • Writer's pictureCompression Athlete

Should You Wear Underwear Under Compression Tights?

Let's take a look at the factors athletes might want to consider.

Two athletes wearing compression tights while working out.

The popularity of compression tights continues to grow in the world of sports and so too their uses and applications.

More and more athletes have begun to recognize the benefits that compression tights have to offer their warmup, performance, and recovery.

With this rise in popularity among athletes of all skill levels, questions about how to wear compression tights and how they should fit are actually very common.

Due to their feel, fabric, and skin-tight fit, compression tights fall into a strange nexus of outerwear and underwear all at once.

This can leave people a little confused as to whether there is a right or wrong way to wear compression tights.

In general, compression wear is intended to serve as a base layer, which means that it is worn right against the skin.

So, if we’re just considering the intended design of compression tights then, no, you’re not supposed to wear underwear beneath compression tights.

Wearing compression tights as a base layer is the best way to ensure that you reap all the benefits that compression has to offer you, including your athletic performance and muscle recovery.

Lately, however, activewear and compression wear has become more and more prevalent in everyday styles.

This may blur the lines a bit as to how you feel most comfortable wearing the tights and for what purpose you’re wearing them.

Truly, the best guiding principle here is to ask yourself the question: Am I wearing these compression tights as underwear or outerwear?

If you’re wearing the compression tights as underwear (i.e. a base layer) then you do not need to wear any additional garments beneath the compression tights.

If you’re wearing the compression tights as outerwear, then you might decide you would like an additional garment under the tights.

This leads us to the most important point.

Four athletes wearing compression tights stretching on track.

It All Comes Down to Personal Preference

While it’s true that some compression tight styles are designed to be worn as outerwear and some intended to be layered or worn as base layers, deciding whether to wear underwear under the tights really boils down to your personal preference.

Even when certain compression tights are designed as outerwear, the athlete wearing them may prefer to forego underwear underneath them.

There’s no problem with doing so. In their many varieties, compression tights are typically very comfortable and supportive.

Again, it’s also possible to have compression tights designed as underwear in which the athlete prefers wearing underwear underneath. This works too, of course.

However, in this case, be mindful that you may lose some of the benefits that compression has to offer, as it is typically designed to be worn as a base layer right against the skin.

It’s also important that you opt for an underwear choice that’s well-suited to fit under compression so as not to cause irritation.

This underwear choice should be form-fitting, breathable, and have a minimal or no-seam design.

So, if you’re still wondering whether to wear underwear under compression tights, the simple and straightforward answer is that it’s up to you.

As the athlete, you should wear what’s most comfortable and what will help you perform at your best.

Benefits of Wearing Compression Tights as a Base Layer

Due to the fact that compression wear is designed to be worn against the skin (i.e. worn as a base layer), wearing an article of clothing beneath your compression wear can hinder the very benefits that are supposed to come from wearing them.

Consider the following benefits that wearing compression tights have to offer you during physical activity and athletic performance:

Female athlete wearing compression tights while stretching.

Improves Overall Athletic Performance

From start to finish, compression tights can improve your athletic performance.

Whether it’s shortening your warmup by improving blood flow or elevating your endurance and muscle control throughout competition, compression tights can offer you a leg up.

Not only can compression tights keep you active longer, but they also assist in strain prevention, which makes for healthy and happy muscles.

Reduces Muscle Fatigue and Improves Recovery

Your compression tights can actually help to reduce muscle fatigue thanks to the compressive pressure they apply to your muscles.

As you move and exert energy, your muscles require oxygen.

Compression tights can improve your body’s blood flow, which is essential in muscle oxygenation.

Not only does this help with muscle fatigue but the improvement in blood circulation also helps with your body’s recovery process.

Offers More Comfort and Support

No matter your activity or skill level, nobody enjoys discomfort from their clothing during physical activity.

For this reason, compression tights are widely used by athletes as a comfortable option while training and competing.

Compression tights cut down on chafing and regulate temperature by wicking sweat away from your body.

They also offer great support to your muscles and assist in your overall movement and control.

The benefits listed here are just to name a few.

If you’re interested in a more comprehensive look at the many benefits that compression wear can add to your athletic performance, check out these awesome Compression Wear Benefits.

Wearing Underwear Under Compression Tights

Now that you’re familiar with the benefits that compression garments can offer your athletic performance, you probably have a good sense of why compression is worn as a base layer.

However, if we take a look across the wide spectrum of the sports world, you might notice some grey areas when it comes to wearing compression tights.

For example, basketball players often wear compression tights as a base layer under their uniform shorts, yet there is often little or no distinction between the make and fabric of these tights and the tights that other athletes wear as outerwear when training, running, and so on.

Male athlete wearing compression tights while stretching.

Similarly, compression tights and shorts are now commonplace among weightlifters, yogis, gym-goers, and are even incorporated into everyday athleisure styles by many.

If you feel more comfortable wearing underwear underneath your compression tights, that’s no problem.

In fact, there are plenty of great athletic underwear options available for wearing under your compression tights.

If you go this route, however, be mindful of the seam design on your underwear.

The pressure from your compression tights can cause chaffing and general discomfort.

So, you’ll want to consider a seamless underwear option. Many brands, including popular athletic brands, carry seamless underwear options.

Again, it’s really a matter of comfort and personal preference.

Regardless of whether your compression tights or shorts are intended as underwear or outwear, it’s up to you what you want to wear or not wear underneath.

Remember, there is no compression tights police. Do what makes you feel good and what will help you perform your best.

Two athletes wearing compression tights while running.

Parting Thoughts: Proper Care for Your Compression Tights

Regardless of whether your compression tights are designed as outerwear or underwear, and regardless of whether you choose to wear underwear under your compression tights or not, be sure to keep up with a frequent wash cycle for all of your compression garments.

Compression tights and compression wear in general take the brunt of all the sweating we do when we’re active. This makes it an ideal place for bacteria to thrive.

So, regardless of whether you’re wearing underwear under your compression tights, you’ll want to keep those tights fresh with consistent washing.

Additionally, while some assume that washing compression gear will cause it to wear out faster, a consistent wash cycle will actually help to keep your compression gear in better shape for longer.

Washing and removing all the sweat and other impurities that accumulate during physical activity will allow the compression fabric to bounce back to form and perform at its best.

If you’d like to keep your compression wear in tip-top shape for as long as possible, take a look at our Compression Wear Best Care Practices.

And for more on compression tights, check out our Comprehensive Guide to Compression Tights.


Featured Articles:


Trending Articles: 

Athlete Recovery:

Athlete using CopperVibe Back Wrap.
About the author: Compression Athlete
bottom of page