Running Shorts

Running is a method that allows humans and other animals to move rapidly on foot.  A characteristic feature of a running body from the viewpoint of spring-mass mechanics is that changes in kinetic and potential energy within a stride occur simultaneously, with energy storage accomplished by springy tendons and passive muscle elasticity.   Running is a type of gait characterized by an aerial phase in which the feet are above the ground.  This is in contrast to walking, where one foot is always in contact with the ground, the legs are kept mostly straight and the center of gravity vaults over the stance leg or legs in an inverted pendulum fashion.   The term running can refer to any of a variety of speeds ranging from jogging to sprinting.

Running shorts are athletic shorts, but not all athletic shorts are running shorts.  Running shorts are traditionally rather short in length and usually have a split seam (the seam is cut up the side of each leg to provide ease of movement).

Running shorts are designed to facilitate comfort and free movement during exercise.  Their materials are generally lightweight and durable.  Many running shorts include an inner lining that acts as underwear, so that the wearer does not have to wear underwear with running shorts.  Polyester is a common fabric in running shorts. However, this is not the only fiber option.

Longer shorts are not as ideal for running.  A runner's stride may pull up the fabric of his or her shorts, which can cause discomfort.  However, some runners prefer longer shorts because they cover a greater portion of their legs.  Much of this may depend on the environmental conditions in which the runner is exercising.  For example, if they are running up a cold weather mountain range, they may opt for a longer short (or long pants).

Most running shorts have a seam cut up the side of each leg to enable freer movement.  Manufacturers define running shorts according to the length of the leg which is not cut.  For example, a 3/4 seam means that 1/4 of the length is cut.

3/4 split seam shorts are short, but not as short as 1/2 split seam shorts

Square leg shorts have no split at all. 

V-Notch Shorts: The most popular style of running shorts are the v-notch shorts.  They get their name from the upside down v-shaped cutout on the outer leg seams starting about a half-inch from the hem.  The v cutout enables the runner to have a greater range of movement than if the seams were sewn together all the way down.  

Split Shorts: Split shorts and v-notch shorts are very similar running short styles but are definitely different.  These two short styles are often confused with one another because they look very similar.  Just like the V-notch, the split shorts also feature a loose fit and the leg seams have an upside down “v" cutout at the bottom.  The difference is that the “split shorts" the v shape part of the leg seam is created by the front panel overlapping the back so the actual leg seam can be as short as the waistband.  The split leg style is definitely a more performance style, as it offers the greatest range of motion to the runner, and inseams are typically shorter, starting at about 1" for men and women (note that measurements always very by brand and manufacturer). 

Split Shorts for Running

Full split shorts:  The full split in the short allows for complete freedom in the runners stride.

Some runners use athletic hot pants as running shorts. Like 1/2 split seam shorts, hot pants do not encumber leg movement.

Lycra running shorts are an alternative to conventional, polyester-based shorts.  In most cases, lycra running shorts reach the mid-thigh area.  They are skin-tight, so they allow for more flexible, unencumbered movement.  You may want to also learn about compression shorts which can also be worn for running and other forms of exercise.  The classic running shorts feature an eased, loose fit, as opposed to the snug fit of compression shorts.   

When selecting running shorts, you may want to also consider visibility.  It is probably a good idea to utilize bright colors and reflective or glow in the dark properties.

Women's Running Shorts

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