Chafing 101

I know... fun topic, right?  I'm expecting lots of comments from the peanut gallery.  But chafing is a fact of the running life, and one we become rudely awakened to when we do our first long run.  Chafing and I have a history.  We've danced together before.  And no, chafing is not reserved for those of us with a little extra "fluff"... even the tiniest of runners experience chafing.

Chafing is caused by good ol' fashioned friction - fabric on skin or skin on skin.  Moisture makes it even worse.  And especially when you sweat so much that you have a layer of salt on your skin... then it feels like sandpaper rubbing.

I most commonly get chafing around my bra line (especially in the back), between my thighs (campfires have been started with less friction), and, the one that gets us a little personal but I'm gonna share anyhow... between my butt cheeks.  Yes, seriously.  Other common areas are under the arms and nipples, which are especially common with men (nothing worse than seeing a guy cross the finish line with two blood-stained targets on his shirt).

What to do to prevent it?  Make body glide your best friend.  Seriously, this stuff is magic!  It comes in a deoderant-like stick and you rub it on the areas that are most "sensitive".  If you want, you can also use vaseline (although I like the thick consistency of the body glide better).  You'll be less likely to chaf if you wear form-fitting clothing.  The looser it is, the more it's rubbing back and forth.  Also, stay away from cotton if you can!  The synthetic, moisture-wicking fabrics will help keep you dry and minimize chafing.  Women, make sure your sports bra has smooth seams (and make sure it fits snug).  And one that I never thought about until it happened to me... make sure there are no tags in your clothing.  I ran a half-marathon in a pair of shorts once, and the tag left a rectangular hole in my back.  It was painful!  You also want to stay hydrated... that'll keep the amount of salt left on your skin to a minimum... which will reduce the awful sandpaper effect.

As for treatment, you can treat it like you would any other cut or scrape.  Clean it and apply an antiseptic to keep it from getting infected. 

So what's your experience with chafing?  Have you ever chafed in a spot that I didn't mention?  Do you have any other prevention methods?

UncategorizedLesley Jones