Should You Wear Underwear When Running? Here’s What To Consider

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Knowing whether to wear underwear when running is a very common question among beginners.

Do you wear underwear with running shorts? Do you wear underwear with lined running shorts? Is it bad to run commando?

In this article, we will discuss factors to consider when deciding whether or not to wear underwear when running.

We will cover: 

  • Should You Wear Underwear When Running?
  • Do You Wear Underwear With Lined Shorts?
  • Do You Wear Underwear When Running In Compression Shorts?
  • Do You Wear Underwear When Running In Shorts?
  • What If I Don’t Like Wearing Running Shorts?

Let’s get started!

A group of people running in different ensembles: long and short running shorts, and long and short leggings.

Should You Wear Underwear When Running?

First and foremost, when asking do you wear underwear with running shorts, or while running in general, it’s important to note that there are no hard and fast rules about wearing underwear when you run.

Even though there are general suggestions about whether or not to wear underwear with different types of running shorts and running clothes, you always have the latitude to dress in any way you see fit. 

If you want to wear underwear when you run, no matter what type of running shorts, tights, or pants you are wearing, that is totally fine.

If you choose to always run commando (not wearing underwear) regardless of what type of running shorts or running bottoms you are wearing, that is also perfectly acceptable. 

The only caveat here would be to make sure that you are decently covered; some running skirts do not have built-in shorts or a compression liner. So, if you are wearing a flowy running skirt that might turn up in the wind and you are not wearing underwear when you run, you might be indecently exposed.

A person running in short, lined running shorts.

Do You Wear Underwear With Lined Shorts?

In general, the primary reason that beginners aren’t sure whether to wear underwear when running is that many traditional running shorts have a liner built-in that resembles a pair of underwear. 

Lined running shorts are available for both men and women in different styles in terms of length, cut, and material. The sewn-in liner is essentially a brief-style underwear that is inside the running shorts and covered by the outer material.

Therefore, wearing underwear underneath the liner is essentially like doubling up on your underwear. You have your regular underwear and then the built-in briefs from the running shorts.

This resultant double layer of underwear can seem like overkill and can cause irritation, chafing, and excessive sweating.

For this reason, running shorts with a liner are designed to be worn without wearing other underwear. The built-in briefs are intended to provide the same support and coverage as regular underwear, so there’s no need to double up.

A person smiling and running down the coast.

Some runners still prefer to wear underwear with lined running shorts, either because they’re just accustomed to it or because they want extra support and coverage.

For example, some men find they need extra support to prevent jostling of the testicles, and some women like to have double coverage if they have stress incontinence or menstrual bleeding.

However, the majority of runners find that it’s more comfortable to skip regular underwear and just wear running shorts with the liner directly against the skin.

Although it’s absolutely fine to wear underwear with lined running shorts if that’s what’s most comfortable for you, if there is movement or pressure between your underwear and the liner, it can lead to friction and chafing or irritation along the groin.

Additionally, particularly in hot weather, doubling up by wearing underwear with running shorts that have a liner could make your crotch area prone to excessive sweating.

The extra fabric will not only increase the temperature in the groin region, but the double layer of fabric will reduce airflow and compromise the breathability of the liner in the running shorts as well as whatever type of underwear you are wearing.

A person running in the grass in lined running shorts.

The gluteal cleft (butt crack area), as well as the various folds in the anatomy in the groin region for both men and women, have a ton of sweat glands. 

If these areas of your body overheat and you are wearing too much fabric to get enough airflow circulating around, your groin and gluteal cleft can get extremely sweaty and smelly, and you can develop fungal infections such as jock itch, chafing, and various rashes. 

Bacteria and fungi love to breathe in warm, dark, and moist environments, so it can be a more hygienic, prophylactic choice not to wear underwear when running in lined running shorts.

In addition to the loose-fitting running shorts that have built-in brief style liner, there are also running shorts for both men and women that have more of a boxer brief or “booty shorts“ style liner underneath the outer loose-fitting running shorts.

Essentially, these are shorter compression shorts that do come down your thighs at least a couple of inches rather than following the line of your groin like a brief.

These types of lined running shorts are also intended to be worn without underwear. Again, if you prefer running with underwear, that’s also fine. 

However, if you are going to wear underwear with this type of running shorts, be very careful that the compression portion of the “booty shorts“ liner is not so tight that it is pressing the edges or seams of your regular underwear into your skin. 

This can cause some nasty chafing, particularly at the top of the leg where it meets your groin.

A person trail running in compression shorts.

Do You Wear Underwear When Running In Compression Shorts?

Plenty of men and women prefer to run in compression shorts instead of regular running shorts with a built-in liner.

Most runners still choose not to wear underwear when running in compression shorts or running tights. The material provides enough support, and many running tights, in particular, even have a built-in double layer around the crotch made of breathable fabric to provide extra support and coverage.

Women who like to wear underwear when running in compression shorts sometimes opt to wear a thong to avoid noticeable panty lines through the fabric. 

Of course, this is totally optional, and you can wear (or not wear!) any style of underwear you so choose.

Theoretically, if you are wearing running tights, it’s probably because you are running in the cold. In this case, some men prefer to double up and wear underwear under the running tights to help keep the genitals comfortable and warm, particularly if it is windy.

Some runners also prefer to wear compression shorts directly under regular gym shorts or unlined running shorts instead of wearing lined running shorts that have built-in briefs.

In these instances, the compression shorts are acting as underwear.

A person running down the street in long loose shorts.

Do You Wear Underwear When Running In Shorts?

Although the majority of athletic shorts marketed as “running shorts“ do have a built-in liner of some sort, plenty of runners choose to run in regular athletic shorts or gym shorts.

These loose shorts might be made from mesh, nylon, polyester, cotton, bamboo, or some other blend of performance fabrics.

There is no liner or inner compression garment built into the shorts.

Typically, you should wear underwear when running in athletic shorts that do not have a liner. Your underwear will provide the coverage and support you need as you run.

As mentioned above, you can also wear compression shorts under unlined athletic shorts instead of some type of traditional underwear.

Particularly for men, running without underwear in this type of loose, unlined gym shorts can be uncomfortable and cause excessive bouncing, tugging, and jostling on your anatomy. 

When the temperature of the groin and testicles increases (which will happen as your body heats up when you run), your body will try to cool down the testicles, causing the testicles to drop down lower away from the core of the body.

This is why wearing supportive underwear when running will help prevent excessive swinging and movement that can otherwise be bothersome and potentially lead to some extremely uncomfortable chafing in the groin.

A person running in compression shorts on a track.

What If I Don’t Like Wearing Running Shorts?

We all have preferences when it comes to our clothing choices, whether for everyday fashion or with what we choose to wear when running.

Some runners hate the feeling of wearing running shorts with the built-in liner, whereas others appreciate the fit, feel, and breathability of having the sewn-in liner and not needing to wear additional underwear. 

It’s one less thing to think about, one less item of laundry to wash, and the polyester material that is typically used to make the liner is very breathable to help improve your temperature and comfort.

However, if you fall in the first camp and do not like wearing running shorts with a built-in liner, there are a couple of options, any of which will work fine.

Firstly, you can look for running shorts that do not have a built-in liner. These are certainly less common, but there are plenty of top running brands that also offer at least a couple of models of unlined running shorts.

A person running in leggings.

If you can’t find running shorts without a liner, you can buy any type of athletic shorts that you feel comfortable in and then wear the underwear of your choosing.

As mentioned, another option is to wear compression shorts instead of running shorts or under running shorts without a liner.

Lastly, you can also buy regular running shorts with a built-in liner and remove it carefully using scissors. Then, you can run in whatever underwear you like most instead of the original sewn-in briefs.

The most important thing is that you are comfortable!

For some guidance on how to find the correct shorts for you, check out the following guide:

How To Choose A Pair Of Running Shorts

A person running along the coast.
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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