Running is one of the most popular workouts. Close to 20% of Americans report that they run or jog regularly. One reason for this is that it appeals to such a wide range of people. From children to older people, joggers to sprinters, beginners to seasoned pros training for a big race, just about anyone can run.

People run for a variety of reasons: to lose weight and tone their body, to train for competitions, to improve their health, to blow off steam and reduce stress, or just to have fun. Whatever the motivation, compression gear can benefit runners of all types.

Running Compression Gear Guide

To help you get started, we’ve constructed a list of all the best compression gear for running enthusiasts looking to take their training and performance to the next level. Explore this guide or check out the full lists of the best compression gear in each category in sleeves, men’s, and women’s clothing.

The Role of Compression in Running

Whether you’re doing it for fun, fitness, or competition, running can be demanding on your body. Even at slower speeds and shorter distances, the stress on your legs can lead to muscle fatigue and potentially even injury. From diet to apparel to cross training, there are countless ways that runners try to boost performance and stay healthy. One of the more recent and popular ways that runners have been addressing these concerns is with compression gear.

The most popular pieces of compression gear for runners are probably compression shorts, compression pants, and compression socks, but you’ll even see some runners wearing compression shirts or sleeves as well.

While the science behind claims that compression gear can improve performance and prevent injuries is still developing, one of the most well-researched benefits of compression gear is its role in aiding muscle recovery. Studies suggest that wearing compression gear both during and after running can reduce muscle soreness and speed up recovery time. This benefits both competitive and recreational runners – no matter how seriously you take running, no one wants to be sore or fatigued longer than they need to be. 

Compression gear can also help you stay comfortable during your runs. In addition to providing joint support and improving blood flow to your muscles, compression gear can prevent chafing, protect your skin from harmful UV rays, and keep your entire body secure and comfortable during a run. Potential physiological benefits aside, runners who use compression gear have been shown to simply “feel” faster and stronger, and the positive effects of feeling comfortable and confident can’t be denied.

Whether your running goal is to wake up the next morning a little less sore, shave a few minutes off your marathon time, or make your high school’s relay team, compression gear can play a powerful role in reaching these goals. Below we’ve made our picks for some of the best compression socks for runners.

Best Leg and Arm Sleeves for Running

In addition to performance-improvement during a workout or activity, compression clothing helps while recovering from physical exertion. From improving blood flow to helping alleviate lactic acid buildup, compression can help get you back on your feet sooner than not wearing it.

Best Knee Sleeves for Running: RiptGear Compression Knee Sleeve

RiptGear’s compression knee sleeve takes compression to the next level. This sleeve offers high-quality, graduated compression to support your knees through both difficult workouts and injuries like tendonitis or muscle tears. Despite it’s excellent support, the design allows for a full range of motion. With firm compression around the entire knee, this sleeve effectively reduces inflammation, muscle tightness, and pain during and after a workout.

Best Calf Sleeve for Running: SB SOX Compression Calf Sleeves

The right calf sleeves can help protect your muscles and promote faster recovery. SB SOX knows compression, and this product does not disappoint. With reliable 20-30 mmHg compression, these calf sleeves are the real deal. They offer four different sizes based on calf diameter to be sure you get the fit you need. Recommended by both doctors and trainers, these calf sleeves are just what you need to to keep your legs in optimal shape during and after a long run.

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Best Socks for Running: CEP Men’s Compression Socks

CEP men’s compression socks are a fantastic choice for runners at all levels. They offer 20-30 mmHg graduated compression to keep the blood flowing for the duration of your run. They fit comfortably, never slip, and wick away moisture, all while maintaining breathability to keep your legs cool and dry no matter what conditions you run in. Keep them on for a few hours after your run to reap even more recovery benefits.

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Best Men’s Running Compression Gear

Best Men’s Compression Pants: CW-X Men’s Stabilyx Running Tights

Stabilyx running tights are engineered with CW-X’s patented EXO-WEB technology to support your hip and knee joints, mimicking the effect of kinesiology tape while also delivering the benefits of compression on the muscles. They’re made with a breathable, moisture-wicking, antibacterial fabric and flat seams to maximize comfort, and they feature an abdominal panel to provide extra support to keep everything supported and in place no matter how long or intense your run is. There is also a small pocket on the waistband to hold keys.

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Best Men’s Compression Shorts: Wolaco North Moore Short

The shorts come equipped with two secure, water resistant pockets to keep your personal items safe and stable, while never sacrificing the quality of their compression technology. They are highly durable, comfortable, fit great, and provide the right amount of compression where you need it. Their pockets make them our favorite pick for runners, but their quality means any athlete would benefit from these shorts during a workout.

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Best Men’s Compression Shirt:  TSLA Long Sleeve Baselayer Cool Dry Compression

TSLA offers an affordable, high-quality compression shirt that is perfect for runners. Its excellent elasticity keeps it in place while allowing maximum range of motion to keep you moving. It’s reliable compression keeps your muscles secure and protects your skin from chaffing and other abrasions throughout your run. It even offers UV protection equivalent to SPF 50, to ensure you’re safe no matter how long you’re out on the road.

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Best Women’s Running Compression Gear

Best Women’s Compression Shorts: CW-X Women’s Muscle Support Endurance Pro Athletic Compression Shorts

These shorts work with the same unique EXO-WEB technology that makes CW-X’s compression tights so great. With both graduated and targeted compression, these shorts will support all the areas you need while running – hip flexors, quads, and hamstrings. They also stay in place to offer lower abdominal and pelvic support no matter how long you are running. 

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Best Women’s Compression Pants: CW-X Women’s Stabilyx Joint Support 3/4 Capri Compression Tights

CW-X is another incredibly reliable brand when it comes to high-quality compression gear. Their women’s Stabilyx Joint Support Capri Tights are exactly what they sound like – the perfect tights to support and stabilize your joints during a run. They are designed to provide targeted compression to the knees, hips, back, and core to keep you safe and solid no matter how long you run. With as much support as a knee sleeve, you can use these pants as a one-stop-shop for all your lower-body compression needs.

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Best Women’s Compression Shirt: WANAYOU Women’s Compression Shirt

TSLA’s long sleeve baselayer compression shirt can be worn year round. Its breathable, moisture-wicking material helps to keep you warm in the colder months and cool when it’s hot outside. With a UPF rating of 50+, it also protects your skin from harmful UV rays. It comes in sizes from XS to L, and fits as expected. 

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What is Compression Gear?

At the most basic level, compression gear is a category of clothing and other accessories designed to fit tightly around the skin. 

Compression gear has a wide variety of applications including, medical, fitness, and personal uses such as fashion and travel, and continues to grow in popularity as athletes, doctors, patients, and regular people find more creative ways to benefit from these products.

Read our What is Compression Gear? article to get a bigger picture of the role compression gear plays in Fitness, Health, Travel, Fashion, how compression works, and what its benefits are.

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