How To Keep Shorts From Riding Up: 9 Helpful Tips

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Whether you are running, cycling, working out at the gym, or just walking around town, it can be incredibly annoying—and sometimes embarrassing—if your shorts keep riding up.

Instead of being able to focus on your workout or just enjoy yourself in general, you find yourself constantly tugging at the inner thigh of your shorts to pull them back down.

There are a few different tips and hacks you can try if you’re looking for how to stop shorts from riding up. Some deal with selecting the right shorts, to begin with, while others are ways you can modify your shorts to prevent them from riding up.

So, if your shorts are riding up when you run or work out, keep reading for our best advice on how to keep shorts from riding up.

We will cover: 

  • Why Do My Shorts Ride Up When I Run?
  • How To Keep Shorts From Riding Up: 9 Helpful Tips

Let’s jump in!

A person trying to figure out how to keep their running shorts from riding up.

Why Do My Shorts Ride Up When I Run?

Many runners, in particular, complain that their running shorts ride up when they run.

Running shorts are inherently short, and the running stride doesn’t do any favors when it comes to keeping your shorts in place.

It’s also common for shorts to ride up when you squat, ride a bike or sit for a long time.

If you have wider hips, a bigger bottom, or thighs that taper significantly, your shorts are more likely to ride up. 

Other reasons why shorts may ride up when you run can be due to the material they are made of, the age or condition of the shorts (perhaps the shorts are old and have stretched out), the design of the shorts themselves, or even the weather conditions, or how much you are sweating.

With that said, when it comes to how to keep your shorts from riding up, some of the tips involve selecting the right shorts from the get-go, but don’t worry—there are also tips for how to stop your shorts from riding up once you have already spent money on them.

A person running on the coast.

How To Keep Shorts From Riding Up: 9 Helpful Tips

#1: Get the Right Fit

Probably at least 50 percent of the time, the main reason your shorts are riding up when you run or work out is that the shorts don’t fit you properly.

If you are wearing a compression type of running shorts or exercise shorts, the shorts need to be tight, or they will ride up. Although you don’t want compression shorts to be so tight that they are choking your legs or feel uncomfortable, if they aren’t snug, they are likely to slide up.

If there’s too much slack or looseness in the shorts, especially around the inner thighs, they will creep up toward your crotch as you run.

If you’ve lost weight and your compression shorts are now loose, or if they’ve stretched out as the Lycra or spandex has gotten worn out over time, it will be difficult to keep the shorts from riding up.

You can take them to a tailor, but you may need to replace them.

As you run, the circumference of your leg changes throughout the running stride based on whether you are weight-bearing or whether the leg is up during the swing phase in the air.

Coupled with the fact that compression shorts are made from a smooth, slick material unless they have an aggressive thigh cuff or silicone stitching around the bottom of the thigh, the repetitive movement of your legs and the changing size of your thighs can cause the material to stretch and ride up as you run.

A person running with compression shorts.

If you are finding that other types of running shorts are riding up, the waistband may be to blame.

Split-short running shorts or V-notch running shorts are two types of running shorts with varying openings on the side.

Both of these types of running shorts typically have sewn-in briefs (underwear) so that you don’t have to wear additional underwear. 

The incorporated briefs also help keep the shorts in place on your hips rather than riding up as you run.

However, if you are still finding these types of running shorts to be riding up as you run, either the waistband is too loose for you, or the shorts have excessive flowy-ness to the material such that the material is catching on itself between your thighs.

Try tightening the drawstring of the waistband or folding it over so that the briefs inside the running shorts hug your crotch a little bit tighter.

A person running with compression gear.

#2: Choose Materials Wisely

Running shorts are made from a variety of materials, depending on the style and construction of the shorts.

Particularly when you are looking for compression shorts, the higher the percentage of the Lycra, elastane, or spandex fabric, the stretchier the shorts will be.

This will help prevent the shorts from riding up as much when you run because the shorts will hug your legs tighter and more securely.

#3: Buy Longer Shorts

Again, this tip for how to stop running shorts from riding up really begins at the point of purchase.

Nevertheless, it’s a good one to keep in mind if you routinely notice that the types of shorts you are buying ride up when you run or work out.

Perhaps this is counterintuitive, but generally speaking, the longer the inseam, the less likely the shorts will ride up toward your crotch.

Longer shorts have more heft to them and can grip a greater surface area of your skin.

Having a longer short to work with also helps in terms of preventing the embarrassment of tugging at a very short short in your crotch.

Look for an inseam of at least 7 inches if you’re habitually dealing with shorts that ride up while you work out.

A person running on the grass.

#4 Apply Fabric Paste or a Paste Made from Cornstarch 

We have finally gotten into some tips for how to keep shorts from riding up once you already have them.

You can apply fabric paste or a paste made of cornstarch to the shorts.

You can use either cheap corn starch from a regular store or buy fabric paste at your local hardware store, both of which are very inexpensive and accessible options.

Simply mix the powder with a little water into a paste consistency (sort of like wet cement or peanut butter) and then apply the tacky substance along the opening of the leg at the bottom of the shorts where they encircle your thighs.

After you spread the paste in a ring all the way around the bottom of each leg, allow it to dry for 45 minutes.

The paste will stiffen the shorts and give them a little more body, stopping them from riding up while you run.

A close-up of someone's running shorts.

#5: Try Clear Silicone Caulk

Of all of the hacks we tried to stop shorts from riding up while running, this one was the most effective.

Although it may sound strange, applying clear silicone caulk, like the product you use to seal cracks around your shower or tub or around window panes, can be a great way to prevent your shorts from riding up.

When the clear silicone caulk dries, it partially hardens but also becomes distinctly rubbery.

This rubbery texture and consistency give it a tackiness that helps grip your thighs to keep the shorts in place.

Although this is a super effective tip for how to keep running shorts from riding up, there are a few things to be mindful of.

  • For one, it takes quite a long time for the clear silicone caulk to dry—upwards of 24-36 hours— so be sure to plan to prepare your shorts at least a day ahead of time.
  • Secondly, and most importantly, inhaling the fumes from the product can be dangerous, so you want to make sure you are working in a well-ventilated area.

Keep yourself away from the shorts until they are clear silicone caulk has fully dried; wearing them before that can cause skin irritation.

After that, you’re good to go.

Although it may sound like a hassle, it’s a super easy fix to stop your shorts from riding up when you run, and it only costs a few dollars.

A person running on a track.

#6: Sew In Elastic

If you fancy yourself as a sewer or enjoy a good DIY project, this is a pretty good hack for stopping shorts from riding up when you run, particularly if you have thin thighs.

Towards the bottom of the leg, near the hemline, you can sew in elastic.

At any fabric store, you can buy what is basically an elastic ribbon material of varying widths.

Then, you can sew the material directly around the opening of each leg, so it looks like a hair scrunchie when the shorts aren’t on.

When you put the shorts on, the elastic will stretch out so that the shorts look normal, but it will have a nice grip on the bottom of your thigh to stop the shorts from riding up when you run. 

Essentially, the elastic allows the shorts to keep hold of your thigh so that the shorts stay in place as you move.

A close up of a person's running shorts.

#7: Tailor Your Shorts

This tip may seem to contradict others that have been suggested here, but it can work in certain situations.

When running shorts get old, the ends often become loose and stretched out. As a result, the fabric from the bottom of one leg can catch on the fabric on the leg when your thighs rub together as your legs move back and forth.

This friction and overlap can cause bunching, which then leads the shorts to ride up.

You can take some scissors and tidy up the loose ends of the shorts or hem them up a little higher to prevent this issue.

#8: Fold the Bottom Of the Shorts

Again, if the issue was with compression shorts, you can fold up the bottom of the shorts so that you have a double-layer ring of fabric.

Simply grab the last inch or so of the shorts and fold it upward on top of the inch of fabric above it.

This gives the bottom of the shorts a little more heft and doubles the stretch power, or staying power, of the shorts around your leg.

You can even do a few folds and make a thicker band of fabric on the bottom, as long as you can still comfortably swing your legs past one another in the “thigh gap” area.

A pair of running shorts.

#9: Use Clips

This final tip for how to stop shorts from riding up should really only be used in a pinch because it won’t be particularly comfortable or aesthetically pleasing.

However, as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures.

You can clip or staple excess fabric at the bottom of the shorts to tighten the remainder of the leg opening so that it hugs your leg.

Grab the excess fabric on the outside of each thigh, pinch it, and clip or staple it off so that the bottom of the shorts feels snug around your leg.

Hopefully, at least one of these strategies will be useful for keeping your shorts in place while you run, freeing your hands to do what they should be—powering you along at a fast pace, safely holding the handlebars of your bike, or lifting the heavy weights you’re dominating during your workout.

If you need some help choosing running shorts from the get-go, check out our guide: How To Choose A Pair Of Running Shorts.

A person trail running.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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