If you want to avoid chafing, minimize sweating, and enjoy your running sesh overall, here are some things you should look for in running underwear.
When it comes to fabric, you want to make sure your running underwear are comfortable, breathable, and that they wick moisture away. “Natural fabrics such as bamboo and cotton are breathable, but they can become sweaty because they do not wick moisture very well,” says Sayer. Ideally, she recommends looking for underwear that has a blend that includes polyester or other sweat-wicking materials. “Spandex, polyester, and nylon are great breathable and lightweight materials that are moisture-wicking to keep you dry and prevent unpleasant odors from arising while running,” Kendter says. She also recommends going for fabrics that have seamless construction to minimize chafing.
Speaking of chafing, making sure your underwear fit properly is of utter importance, since a bad fit can cause so much irritation you’ll be temped to head home. Sayer recommends making sure your underwear fits properly so that there isn’t a lot of friction or movement between the underwear and your crotch or gluteal cleft (butt crack) when you run. “Otherwise, if the underwear is sliding around inside your running shorts, you can develop chafing, which is extremely painful and may lead to open sores that can get infected,” she explains. But you also don’t want your underwear to be so tight that they’re uncomfortable. Kendter also recommends making sure your underwear are seam-free and tag-free to further prevent unnecessary chafing and rubbing.
Things can get pretty hot and sweaty while you’re running (or tackling other workouts), so make sure you stick to underwear with sweat-wicking and breathable qualities. “Sweat-wicking underwear is really helpful so that you don’t end up with a soggy bottom when you run,” Sayer says. If you’re unsure what panties pack these features, try shopping for ones marketed as athletic underwear. “Most underwear marketed as athletic underwear or running underwear use moisture-wicking materials for better temperature regulation and to increase breathability,” Sayer explains.