Chafing… A Runners Worst Enemy

Ahh, chafing. Uncomfortable to run with and unpleasant to talk about. It’s one of the last things you want to happen during a race, a workout of even your daily run. Chafing is extremely uncomfortable and it always happens in the worst of places. Let’s take a look at chafing, what causes it, where it happens and how to help prevent it!

So, what is chafing…

Chafing is irritation of the skin caused by friction, from either other body parts or an article of clothing you may be wearing. There are a few different areas of the body were chafing usually occurs including: inner thigh, groin, waist band, rib cage (sports bra), nipple or arm pit. Sometimes you wont even realize you chafed until that post run shower comes and all of a sudden your skin feels like it’s on fire from the lightest sprinkle of water.

Here are a few key tips to help you prevent this awfulness from happening in the first place:

  • Pick the right clothing. First of all, it has to fit. Something to tight can dig into your skin, especially something like a sports bra or running belt.
  • Avoid tags. Seams and tags are also no good, they tend to be points of friction.
  • Create a barrier. Compression shorts tend to help when it comes to the inner thigh chafing because it will help create a barrier from skin to skin contact.
  • Avoid cotton. Should I wear cotton clothing? Nope. Never. Moisture wicking clothing is best. Wet clothing causes hot spots for chafing to occur.
  • Protect and Cover. Yup I’m taking about those nipples! I would recommend covering them up. Nip Guards, Band Aids, Tape, whatever you want to use but trust me, this is one of the more uncomfortable spots for this to happen.
  • Lubricate. There are products out there like BodyGlide and Vaseline. But any petroleum based products will help prevent chafing. Apply these greasy lubricants to prone chafing areas before your run. ChapStick is a small but common solution for any mid run chafing problem!
  • Hydrate. Drinking minimizes the salt concentration in sweat. Salt creates a sand paper feeling.. sand paper + skin.. that doesn’t sound good!

Be sure to treat any chafed areas, especially if the begin to bleed. Most of the time chafing comes as a result of being physically active. You are likely sweating, or “getting dirty”. You want to clean these irritated areas shortly after any activity and treat them as open wounds. Wash gently to prevent further irritation the area, pat dry, do not rub. I would also recommend putting some type of over the counter ointment to get those chafed areas healed up quickly so you can get out there to rock your next activity without pain!

About Gregory

Gregory Laraia ATC is an Athletic Trainer, Running Coach and a competitive runner in the greater NYC area. Greg graduated from East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania where he competed all four years on the Cross Country and Track teams. During his time at East Stroudsburg Greg competed at the NCAA Division II level earning multiple All Region and All conference honors. As an Athletic Trainer, Greg has experience from middle school students up to division I collegiate athletics performing injury assessments, rehabilitation exercises and therapeutic modalities to all types of athletes. Greg is FMT Rocktape Certified and has experience working with patients from an orthopedic outpatient Physical Therapy clinic where he educates patients on proper rehabilitation techniques. With a passion for helping patients and athletes alike, Greg joins the team providing the highest quality care to help athletes reach their goals.