Whether you run casually or whether you run for sport, it’s likely you’ll go through phases where you want to maximize your running speed. There are a lot of techniques you can improve on, there’s strength training, there’s sprinting, but what about the REALLY lean marginal improvement? Does shaving your legs make you run faster?
Shaving your leg hair for running will not make you faster by any meaningful amount. However, depending on your hair density and the weather, shaving your legs can make your run a lot more comfortable which can make your run less miserable and more motivating.
The truth is, shaving your legs will not directly make you faster. In the rest of this article, I will answer all the questions you may have, and hopefully, by the end of it, you will know whether or not you want to shave your legs. Let’s get into it.
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Should You Shave Your Legs For Running?
Shaving your legs or not shaving your legs for a race is 100% your own personal preference. There is little to no performance benefit in almost all situations. Your leg hair doesn’t provide enough wind resistance to make any remarkable difference (unlike, for example, swimming).
Unless, of course, you have exceptionally hairy legs. It could be that shaving in that instance could actually make a difference. Not likely, though.
If you are trying to shave off half a second over a marathon, it’s really a “why not?” scenario. It’s a bit of a drag, but there may be psychological benefits as well.
If you are thinking about shaving your legs, here are some reasons people shave legs for running:
- Applying any type of lotion or sunscreen is easier
- In really hot weather, (more) bare skin can cool off easier
- Some people feel that clothes are more comfortable over shaved legs
Do Elite Runners Shave Their Legs?
I was going through several images of the top marathoners that have ever lived (here on Wikipedia), and the consensus is yes, elite runners shave their legs and arms.
Whether this is for performance, comfort, luck, tradition, or just to have better pictures, we’ll never know. But if you are an Olympian, there isn’t any reason not to do everything possible to shave off any potential source of drag.
For the rest of us, you can shave your legs for fun, but it’s not going to make much of a difference.
What Sports Is It Common To Have Shaved Legs?
The most common sport where athletes shave their legs is swimming, cycling, and contact sports like football or rugby.
Shaving before swimming can actually make a difference in drag, so says this study. Which makes sense. Water is denser than air and so it is possible that having that tiny bit more resistance could slow you down over long distances. Again, not likely to make a huge difference, but at least possible.
People have done some non-peer-reviewed studies and have concluded there is a slight edge if the swimmers shave. If nothing else, it may be just a mental thing where you have the feeling like you really put in your all by shaving that last square inch of your body.
Athletes will shave in some contact sports to prevent hair from getting pulled and pinched as they’re tackling or being tackled. Anything to reduce your surface area can prevent pain.
Is It Ok For Men To Shave Their Legs?
This is where things can get a bit touch and go. Personally, I think anyone can shave whatever they want to shave, and it is nobody’s business. On the other hand, I understand that some guys might feel self-conscious about shaving their legs.
Perhaps you might have to answer someone’s question, and you can be honest–I wanted to see what it was like! I’ve heard guys say this in this exact scenario, and nobody thinks twice about it.