Dealing With Summer Runner’s Chafing
We all love Summer! But it brings some challenges for female runners. Let’s talk about a sensitive subject… chafing from running (and how to deal with it).
If you’ve ever experienced chafing from running, you’ll know just how sore it can be. There’s nothing quite like the pain getting into the shower after a run and turning the water on chafed skin. So, how should we avoid chafing from running in hot weather, and what can we do if it happens?
What is chafing and why does it happen to women runners?
Chafing happens when skin rubs against skin, or against the fabric of clothes. The straps of running gadgets, rucksacks or watches can be another culprit of the dreaded chafing. Chafing doesn’t always feel too bad at the time, but afterwards it is extremely sore and can take a while to heal. And, of course, when we next head out for a run, there’s a high chance that the chafed area of skin will get damaged again.
Female runners tend to more from chafing than our male training partners do. This can be down to our body shape, the extra body parts we’ve got that they don’t have (they’ll never know the pain of under-boob chafing!), and the extra clothing we need to wear. Women runners tend to suffer with chafing along the bra line, under the shoulder straps of bras and running tops, under the arm pits, and between the thighs. Sometimes we experience chafing in areas we don’t even know we had! Chafing tends to occur in very delicate areas – which makes it even more painful.
There are certain things which make chafing more likely to happen. Heavy, sweaty running kit (cotton is a common culprit), moisture from rain, badly-fitting sports bras, straps on clothing or gadgets which moves as you run, or old running kit which has become stiff and hard around the seams.
It’s best to prevent chafing from starting. Make sure your kit is clean, dry and fits well. Choose kit made of wicking-type fabrics like CoolMax, and avoid cotton at all costs (keep those race t-shirts for rest days!) Replace sports bras, tops and shorts if they start to get stiff, uncomfortable or if they have damaged straps or seams. Try spreading body butter, Vaseline or Body Glide (much loved by triathletes) on areas prone to chafing before you head out for your run.
If you’ve fallen victim to some nasty chafing (we’ve all been there!) then try these remedies to lessen the pain and speed up the healing process.
Shower the affected skin gently (you may need to turn the water temperature down and avoid heavily scented soaps). Don’t use a body scrub, flannel or anything which will worsen the damage. Dry off carefully, patting rather than rubbing the area with a towel.
Apply some aloe vera, vitamin E cream, or something designed for nappy rash. Then try to let the affected skin air, so it doesn’t get damp and sweaty. A little sunlight will help, but be sure not to burn. Next time you run, try to wear clothing which fits slightly differently, so the straps and seams don’t touch the damaged skin. Consider wearing your watch higher or lower on your arm if the strap has chafed you.