Wear Sports Underwear When Running

The title of this post is a statement that I advise to all runners of all levels and something I have learned the hard way. If you run with bad underwear then the C word could, and in my case does, occur.

That dreadful C word isn’t the one Irish people seem to affectionately throw at each other, no this one is the one dreaded by sports people the world over, the C word is Chafing.

For many the worst chafing occurs between our tender thighs, skinny or fat, it can attack and ruin an otherwise personal best beating run. It’s usually caused by sweating skin rubbing with other sweating skin or with a loose piece of material which is exactly why the correct underwear can seriously alleviate the chance of it striking.

I was reminded of the pain of inner thigh chafing just a few weeks ago, if you don’t mind i’ll tell you the story. I woke up early for a run. I’m traveling light and had just thrown away a few worn pairs so was down to just 4 pairs of boxers! Now, every human has a bad pair of underwear, a pair they hate wearing but just can’t get rid of because they almost always use the others and end up having to use the bad ones! That bad pair of underwear is essentially like an overdraft, there if you need it but you want to avoid using it. Having only 3 good I had ended up with the bad but I needed that run.

Wear Sports Underwear When RunningSo on they went, my thick cotton loose underwear and out for a run I headed. 3 miles in I started to feel the sore between my poor thighs! 4 miles in I was wincing with pain and moving like a barn dancing cowboy down the street trying to stop the skin rubbing together, leaning and adjusting the underwear, not a pretty sight!

Needless to say the recovery took a few days and I had to act on getting some more underwear pretty fast.

Of my 3 good underwear 2 were a particular type and brand. A pair of Jockey brand sports boxers with a mesh wicking material. For me they are just about te most perfect pair of underwear for running as they draw sweat away from the vulnerable area. They fit tight to my skin and go far enough down my thigh to help stop them rubbing against each other.


I decided I needed some more of these so I headed to a large Montreal department store, otherwise known as Hell on Earth (I despise shopping). I found the underwear pretty quickly at $26 for two pairs, I know pricey but worthwhile, and luckily got them for $19.50 when I took then to pay.

I came home happy but a little poorer and then it dawned on me and I screamed “why on earth didn’t I just buy them on Amazon?”, well maybe I just thought about screaming that! Anyway guess what? Amazon.com has 2 pairs for $12.99 (GO Mesh Midway Brief – 2 pack on Amazon). I’m ordering another 4 pairs when I head over to the USA later this month and plan to get rid of the bad pair so I never face that bad pair dilema again!

So to summarise. When looking for running underwear do not buy cotton under any circumstance! Look for underwear labelled as sports or performance that are tight fitting and advertise their use for sports. They should be made from a man made material that has wicking qualities (draws sweat away) and have very few seams. Some people take the route of wearing minimal sports briefs and then compression shorts or cycling shorts on top, or even no underwear and just the tight compression/cycling shorts on their own.

Related post: Running Socks, Are They Needed?

What sports underwear do you wear and recommend?

Just as a note, and i’ll write more about this at a later date, chafing can also be helped with lubricants such as petroleum jelly, body glide or baby powder, corn starch and potato starch. A little petroleum jelly on your nipples before a long run can save days of pain!

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When I can be I am a regular runner but I am also nothing special and certainly no elite, so in that respect I am regular too. However I do love talking about running and related things and I do have a lot of experience, over 15 years now.

6 Responses to “Wear Sports Underwear When Running” Subscribe

  1. Glen Craig November 7, 2011 at 22:06 #

    I’ve found it easier to run with specific running shorts, the kind that have the underwear sewn in.

    Even then, I need to have the short ones so I don’t chafe. I hate the short shorts but it’s what I gotta do.

    Two things – Body Glide works great to help prevent chaffing (it looks like a roll-on but is more of a waxy type of stuff) and Desitin (or any baby butt cream) does a great job of clearing up chaffing quick!

    • Forest November 7, 2011 at 22:26 #

      Hey Glen, yeah that’s another option for sure. I have done that in the past. Thanks for the post chafing tip too, needed medical help many times!

  2. Briana @ 20 and Engaged November 7, 2011 at 22:19 #

    I never even knew this was a problem for men. Learn something new everyday! I recommend compressor shorts and UnderArmor shirts!

    • Forest December 3, 2011 at 14:14 #

      Both good options.

  3. ninjaTRIATHLETEmonkey December 3, 2011 at 03:44 #

    I’ve never found this is as a problem but I’ve just started training for a full marathon, only ever having done halfs before. I’ve never really thought about this before (it having never been a problem) but is this something I should consider for longer runs? When do people normally experience this sort of chaffing?

    • Forest December 3, 2011 at 14:15 #

      It really depends, person to person. Sometimes it can happen to me on a short run, sometimes after 8-10 miles and sometimes not at all.

      Good underwear for me helps keep things in place and the chaffing down as well as keep sweat dispersed… Not nice subjects but gotta be discussed 🙂

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