Are you supposed to wear underwear with running shorts and leggings?

should I wear underwear while running
There are many pros and cons to wearing underwear while running (Image credit: Getty Images)

Do  you wear underwear when running, or not? The answer broadly depends on what type of running shorts or leggings you plan to wear. There are also a number of pros and cons to wearing – or not wearing – underwear when running.

Let’s look at the type of running clothing that you plan to wear. Some looser running shorts come with a an inner liner. This might be a briefs style inner liner or a longer tight-fitting short. If you have these sorts of shorts, there is no need to wear underwear although it is worth taking note of the various pros and cons below. These inner briefs and shorts can replace the need to wear underwear when running.

It is the same with running leggings or tights. The support from the leggings replaces the need for underwear, although, again there are reasons why you still might want to wear underwear while running.

should I wear underwear while running

Do you run commando, or wear underwear? (Image credit: Getty Images)

Reasons to not wear underwear when running

Whatever your choice of running shorts or leggings, there are still further reasons not to wear underwear – or ‘go commando’ – while running. 

Better breathability

Running can be sweaty and if you want to minimise the heat, then the simplest thing is to shed a layer of clothing. Less clothing will offer more of a breeze through shorts and leggings.

Improved hygiene

Wearing some types of underwear, such as cotton pants, can cause excess moisture build up. This can lead to the growth of bacteria and increase the risk of infections. In particular, women can be prone to yeast infections. 

To reduce the chances of infections it is best to wear underwear that is made of more natural fibres or has sweat-wicking properties, or run without underwear.

The looser your running shorts the better it is for reducing the chances of moisture and bacteria build up.

Stops the ‘wedge’ and chafing

Wearing underwear while running can lead to discomfort, especially if the pants do not stay in place and ride up to sit uncomfortably between the butt cheeks.

The edges and seams of underwear can easily rub the skin, especially if you sweat or run for long periods. By not wearing underwear while running, you eliminate some of these irritations. 

A better look?

A VPL (Visible Pants Line) is not the most attractive look and wearing underwear under tight-fitting running shorts or leggings can cause the pant line to show through. This is a cosmetic issue and perhaps not one that many people will bother about. However, the way to get rid of a VPL is to wear better fitting underwear, or none at all.

Adds to your washing load

Wearing fewer items of clothes, reduces the load in your laundry – and has the benefit of being a greener way to live. If you wash your clothes fewer times, you are helping the environment because you will use less electricity and washing products. In addition, clothes that are washed less frequently tend to last longer.

should I wear underwear while running

It comes down to personal choice for wearing underwear while running (Image credit: Getty Images)

Reasons to wear underwear while running

There are a number of reasons why you might choose to wear underwear while running.

Better support

A good pair of pants, especially underwear that is made for sports, will give you support. This includes support at the rear to reduce butt bounce , as well as better support for men’s parts. Some underwear designs, such as SAXX, include a feature called a “BallPark Pouch” to ensure men have adequate support while running.

Less washing, not more

Wearing underwear while running is more likely to protect the running shorts or tights from bodily fluids – this includes periods – because there is a layer between the genitals/bottom and the garment. It is easier and creates less washing if you are putting your smalls through the laundry compared to a pair of shorts or leggings.

Could reduce chafing

While there is an argument that wearing underwear while running can lead to chafing, there is also the other point of view that underwear might protect your skin from the chafing of rougher fabrics designed into running shorts and leggings.

At the end of the day, whether you choose to wear underwear while running, or not, will be personal. It also depends on the type of running shorts or leggings that you prefer to wear.

Fiona Russell
Outdoor writer

Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favorite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing (both downhill and backcountry). Aside from her own adventures, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy getting outside and exploring, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.