Chafing, a runner’s nightmare! EEK! Have you ever chaffed from running? In those hard to reach, or right in front places?? Luckily, I have never had any full-blown chafing just minor incidents. But let me share some tips with you so you prevent it from happening to YOU.
What causes you to chafe? It is caused by repeated motion, such as, skin rubbing against loose fabric or other skin. For women it mostly happens around the bra line , and for men, the dreaded nipples. Also in the inner thighs, and under the arms area for everyone. Moisture, either from sweat or rain, can worsen chafing. When women wear poorly fitted bras, it will also cause you to chafe.
The most common symptoms are a painful stinging or burning sensation. The area tends to get red and raw. It also depends on how long the area has been rubbing together because you can also bleed.
How do you prevent it?
DO NOT wear cotton! It absorbs sweat and rain and stays soaked. Cotton is also a pretty rough material that when constant rubbing against your skin it can rub your skin raw until you bleed. Fellas….I’m looking at you with bloody nipples. If you’ve been there, you know the pain.
For the guys who run with t-shirts, look for a moisture wicking fabric. It is a breathable material that doesn’t absorb moisture. Wearing band aids, or NipGuards will 100% prevent nipple chafing. Alpha always wears band aids on his longer runs because at times even the moisture wicking tanks he wears will cause discomfort. So he will wear band aids regardless, just be warned that when you remove them, it might sting a little 😉
Make sure that whatever you wear, including bras, are tagless or seamless. Even though they seem small and insignificant, it is something to pay attention to. Look for comfort and nothing that will irritate your armpit area or for women, under or around the chest area. I have a bra that cause some chafing because the lining was really low on the side and I got some red irritation on my ribs from rubbing against my armpit. I was also not wearing a tank so as I got sweated more, the area got more irritated.
Ladies, if you wear an improper fitting bra it will cause discomfort and chafing. If it fits too snug, it can certainly dig in, same thing goes for the tanks. If it fits too big, the extra material can cause problems. Same thing with a smaller top that doesn’t have smooth seams.
Another hot spot for chafing is your thighs. If they are constantly rubbing together and you sweat, boy will you chafe! It has happened to me. I was wearing shorts that wear riding up and I got tired of pulling them down so I left them where they kept running off to. Approaching the end of my run, I felt a burning sensation in the middle of my thighs, when I looked I had a lot of redness, but luckily it wasn’t raw. Man did I dread that shower!
One way to protect yourself from thigh chafing is to wear fabric that covers the hot spots. Wearing compression shorts that don’t ride up is one way. Another way is to wear capris or longer pants, which is what I do.
If you have chafed or fear to, I am sure you are familiar with Body Glide. It is commonly used in the running community. It keeps you dry and is invisible and it’s not wet or greasy. You can apply it in the areas where your skin rubs together. Many runners also use Desitin, Vaseline, and even deodorant.
I wore some shorts to a race that I didn’t expect to sweat as much as I did. I had worn those shorts a million times but on that day, it was causing some chafing. I stopped by the medical tent to look for Vaseline but they didn’t have any. Luckily I had stashed away my chapstick in my hips-sister. Boy did that come in handy! I applied in on my thighs and had no more discomfort for the rest of the half marathon race. So pretty much anything that is petroleum jelly based will work.
And guess what other way you can prevent chafing…HYDRATION! You all know how I feel about hydration and it’s importance. Here is another aspect of why and how it affects your body. Drinking water, or sports drink while running will you keep well hydrated, and if you sweat lots of salt crystals, they will rub against your skin and obviously cause you to hurt. So drink up!
Make sure that once you finish your run, that you get those areas washed. Bacteria can seep into the rawness and create an infection. That is worse than jumping in the shower and having the water touch your burned areas for the first time. You can apply some anti bacterial cream like neosporin to protect it. Those days that I got the chafing, I applied A+D ointment to reduce the redness and discomfort. Desitin which is a diaper rash cream is excellent for those severe chafing cases.
You can pretty much assume that you will have some chafing happen if you are running a long race. So just take these steps to prevent yourself from having a bad race experience. Wearing snug fitted clothes would reduce the chances of chafing better than loose-fitting clothes will. So make sure you dress accordingly and don’t be shy or embarrassed if you feel weird, because in reality, ALL runners have their own “weird” habits. Do what works for you!
-the Scoliosis runner