Suffering is an extraordinary teacher - Ryan Hall, Olympic Marathon Runner.
April is here, and this brings two wonderful things: heading to work in daylight and the beginning of marathon season.
But as the warmer months hold a welcome return, the better temperature means that you sweat more when training. Add a chill in the air, cool wind or rain and those brighter but cold spring mornings can create the perfect habitat for a runner’s great foe: chafing.
It goes without saying but sweating means dehydration. This leaves just the salts from your system on the skin. Double this up with the repeat motion of clothing rubbing against your skin and bingo - you’ve got an evening of discomfort.
If you tune in to our Facebook Live show you will know that I asked who was interested in exploring this further and at least one person said yes. It got me thinking - what else is at risk of chaffing and how do you prevent it? Here are my top tips to beat it:
Known as Runner’s Nipple, this is the number 1 spot of discomfort for your average jogger. From 5k to 26 miles, this can kick in in no time. And, it's not just reserved for runners - it affects cyclists, rowers and gym goers too.
Spring plays host to cold mornings, so if you’re an early riser, you’ll feel my pain.
While many recommend plasters, these can wreak havoc when removed, particularly if you have hairs! I’d suggest surgical tape - this can be pulled off without ripping out a single hair. Just cut a strip in the shape of your nipple, and away you go.
AVOID: loose cotton shirts - the looser the shirt, the more friction your nipples will feel. Also, cotton could win awards for getting and staying wet - think sandpaper on your gums. Ouch.
Ah! That joyous day when you can wave goodbye to the Beast of the East and slip those trusty shorts back on.
However, shorts are a fine culprit of soreness on the upper leg, and if you’re finding that a particular pair are the guilty party, opt for something longer and tighter.
There’s several lubricants on the market that will do the job to reduce dry rubbing, and a simple swipe of deodorant will do the trick if all else fails.
For the ladies looking forward to smashing the sport this year, a sports bra is pivotal - if this fits properly, it will significantly reduce friction and rubbing around the breasts.
Be sure to pay a little more for one that fits snugly – just a small difference can make a world of difference on a micro level, and the extra money spent will repay itself over and over.
Chafing of the buttocks is an unpleasant and irritating problem experienced by both men and women. Bum chaffing is very common across many different sports not just running and cycling.
Chafing of the buttocks usually comes in two varieties; chafing of the bum cheeks and chafing of the bum crack. The former is usually caused by the skin rubbing against clothing, while the latter is primarily due to skin on skin rubbing, which is often exacerbated by moisture and salt from sweating (or sea swimming triathlons!).
As with most cases of chafing, allowing fresh air to circulate and let the buttock area breathe is recommended. However, for quite clear reasons, this can be far from practical! Try wearing something that is made from a breathable material and opt for underwear that wicks moisture.
If you find you are prone to chafing in the crack of your bum, then keeping the area dry is a good preventative measure. A good antiperspirant or absorbent powder is highly recommended, as are everyday products like talcum powder or baby powder.
A lubricant will help reduce friction and the irritation caused by rubbing. A petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, is a classic solution for chafing between the buttocks. As it is water-resistant, it won't get washed away by sweat and will keep your cheeks gliding for hours! Petroleum jelly can, however, be hard to wash out of clothing, so if you wish to reduce rubbing on the buttock cheeks then shop around for anti-friction gel that dries on contact and won't stain your clothing such as Glide.
Now, any chafe connoisseur will note that I didn't mention foot blisters - probably the worst chafe of them all. Those bad boys will be getting a post all of their own!
Until next time....
Rob, Norwich’s Sport Performance Guy
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