Chafing is one of those running-related injuries that you almost feel wimpy complaining about because, after all, it’s just a skin irritation. But for those of us who have been victims of this ailment, you know just how painful it can be (especially when the water hits your chafed areas in the shower – owww!).
If you’ve never experienced running-related chafing before, consider yourself very lucky. But don’t get too comfortable with your chafing-free status because it only takes one long run when your running clothes are rubbing the wrong way to cause that painful burning and stinging sensation. Some of the most common areas where runners are prone to chafing include: around the bra line (women), nipples (men), inner thighs, groin, butt, and under the arms
So how can you prevent chafing? Follow these steps and check out our round-up of chafing prevention products.
Avoid cotton clothing and socks.
Wear running clothes and socks made of synthetic materials that wick moisture away. Don’t wear cotton clothing because once it gets wet, it stays wet. In addition, cotton is a rough material and when it’s constantly moving against your skin, it can rub your skin raw.
Tight clothes are less like to cause chafing.
Chafing can be caused by loose running clothing, so it’s better to wear clothes that are snug. Some runners prefer to wear spandex bike shorts to prevent chafing between their legs.
Wear sports bras that fit properly and are made of synthetic materials.
For women, make sure you’re wearing a good, synthetic sports bra with smooth seams. A poorly-fitting sports bra can lead to chafing. If you get a new sports bra, make sure you test it out on some shorter runs before wearing it for a long run.
Protects nipples by covering them.
Men can protect their nipples from chafing and bleeding by covering them with Band-aids, Nip Guards or NipStrips.
Proper hydration is also important to preventing chafing. Make sure you’re staying hydrated before, during and after your runs. You’ll know you’re well-hydrated if your urine is a light yellow color like lemonade. During your runs, drink for thirst.
Use a lubricant on chafing-prone areas.
Spread a thin layer of BodyGlide, Vaseline, or other lubricant on vulnerable areas. Chafing most often occurs around the bra line (women), nipples (men), inner thighs, and under the arms.
Products to Prevent and Treat Chafing
Here are some products you can use to protect even your most sensitive areas from chafing.
Best Cream: Chamois Butt’r Original Anti-Chafe Cream
If you prefer a soothing cream to help prevent and treat chafing, Chamois Butt’r Original Anti-Chafe Cream is easy to apply and a big favorite among endurance athletes, especially cyclists. It’s non-greasy, contains no artificial fragrances or colors, doesn’t have a strong scent, and won’t stain your clothes. This cream is especially useful if you get chafed between your butt cheeks.
Best for Feet: ChafeX Anti-Blister and Anti-Chafe Cream
Chafing and blisters on your feet can be extremely painful and debilitating for runners, but ChafeX can help prevent them on long runs and races. It works by forming a semi-permeable membrane on your skin to protect it from chafing and blistering, even in wet and sweaty conditions. Although it’s pricier than some other chafing creams, a little goes a long way.
Best Stick: Body Glide
One of the most popular anti-chafing products among runners, Body Glide is an allergen-free, plant-based, no-petroleum stick that goes on like a deodorant stick. It comes in several different formulas, including Foot, Cycle, or Sun, so it’s easy to find one that suits your needs.
Best Budget: Vaseline
It’s a bit messier than some other chafing prevention products, but you can’t beat the price of petroleum jelly such as Vaseline. Just make sure you don’t lay it on too thick; a thin layer is fine.
Best for Chafing Treatment: A + D Ointment
If you forget to use a lubricant or you missed a spot, use some A + D Ointment to heal your irritated, chafed skin.
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