How To Avoid Chafing On Long Runs

If you haven’t experienced chafing during long runs, consider yourself lucky!

The sensation may seem inconsequential when facing minor chafing. Yet it can cause excruciating pain and discomfort; if left untreated, it can develop into an unpleasant condition that impairs your performance and comfort. But how can you avoid chafing on long runs?

We’ve got a few tips for you – but here’s the big takeaway:

Apply a skin lubricant generously to your inner thighs (or affected area) before running to avoid chafing. Clothing is also the leading cause of chaffing. Running in shorts or trousers with inside thigh seams is not recommended.

Instead of bulky shorts or pants, opt for tight-fitting stretchy athletic clothing.

When the temperature and the humidity rise, you’ll be red on more than just your face. Nothing is more unpleasant than going for a long run on a hot summer day and experiencing the familiar searing sensation of chafing.

In light of that, let’s take a closer look into the best remedies to prevent chafing and what causes it.

How To Avoid Chafing On Long Runs

How to avoid chafing on long runs

Skin-on-skin chafing and fabric-on-skin chafing are the two forms of chafing. Chafing is a sort of skin irritation induced by friction, most commonly between skin and skin or between clothing and skin. 

Over time, friction will irritate your skin to the point where it becomes injured, resulting in a rash, blisters, or raw skin. If the chafing is severe, it can be excruciating, making mobility nearly impossible.

Chafing can generally occur during almost any repetitive motion exercise, although it is more common during long-distance running – particularly at marathon or ultra marathon distance. Chafing can be caused by or contributed to by several reasons, including:

  • Hot and humid weather
  • Having sensitive skin 
  • Uncomfortable and non-breathable clothing
  • A fabric that does not wick moisture
  • Having larger muscles
  • Excess body weight
  • Excessive sweating

A hot area is the first clue that chafing is taking place. Early detection is critical, just as it is with blisters on your feet. As a result, stop what you’re doing as soon as you detect a hot spot and investigate the area. Take care of the problem if the region is even slightly red and uncomfortable.

One of the most aggravating aspects of chafing is that it constantly affects odd places. For example, your nipples, as well as your inner thighs, are chafing hotspots.

There’s a reason why many long distance runners opt for nipple tape!

If you have inner thigh chafing, wearing longer running shorts is one of the most straightforward fixes. Some runners prefer trail length shorts with a longer inseam, while compression shorts worn under conventional running shorts will keep your thighs from rubbing together. 

Shorts with seams on the inner thigh or that are overly loose and baggy should also be avoided when jogging. Men’s and women’s running tights might be a great alternative in the winter, but avoid any with visible seams.

Ensure Your Running Clothes Fit Well

Every item in your running clothing should be tailored to your physique. Your clothing should not impede your movement but should be tight enough that your skin does not rub against the fabric.

If you prefer, loose clothing with lots of ventilation, such as a T-shirt and athletic split shorts, may work. You only need to make sure your clothing doesn’t allow any skin-to-skin contact when you’re running, as this might cause chafing.

If you’re running in a sports bra, make sure it’s snug enough to keep your chest in place. You face the danger of a “jogger’s nipple,” which is a painful friction burn if your chest has enough room to move about inside your bra.

Consider a sports bra with encapsulated (split) cups if you have a bigger chest to help reduce rubbing and friction when running.

Wear An Extra Layer Of Clothing

Now that we’ve sorted out the incredibly achy inner thigh issue, we can go on to some general chafing prevention guidance. 

Spending a few minutes prepping for a long-distance run is definitely worth your time. Furthermore, adding an extra layer between your skin and your training clothes can help you avoid chafing, which can ruin your run. 

Although chafing is greater under damp conditions, dry skin is more susceptible to rubbing than well-moisturized skin. Using a moisturizer or other lotions like petroleum jelly or hypoallergenic balm will lessen the impacts of friction, allowing you to run without interruption.

You should cover all of the regular chafing locations. The inner thighs, nipples, armpits, and groin are all included. If you’re traveling for an extended period, have a travel-size tube of petroleum jelly in your pocket or waist pack in case of chafing.

Apply Lubrication To The Affected Areas

Vaseline for runner's chafing
For many runner’s woes, Vaseline is the answer!

There are various skin-care products on the market that are designed to lubricate high-friction regions of your body and avoid chafing – like Vaseline. Furthermore, the lubricant can be used to pre-treat known problem areas or address hot spots that arise during activity. 

Follow the recommendations of the product you buy carefully, but generally, apply the ointment to any region that rubs. Products like Body Glide balmMonistat Chafing Powder, and Good Guard Chamois Anti Chafe Friction cream are some of the best products specifically designed to help prevent chafing.

Some anti-chafing lotions recommend washing them off after your workout to allow your skin to breathe and remove any germs. Then, all you’ll need is some soap and water to do the trick.

Wear Clothes That Wick Away Moisture

The next step is to pick running clothing that will keep you dry once you’ve primed your skin to keep it wet. Because sweaty skin is more prone to chafe, you should wear clothing composed of breathable, sweat-wicking fabrics that actively work to eliminate moisture from the body.

Remove any tags that can irritate and use seamless clothing if feasible. For example, ladies should avoid wearing sports bras that are excessively tight since they can dig into your shoulders and rib cage, and men who have had similar issues can consider putting a couple of plasters over their nipples.

Choose Underwear Wisely

Shorts with built-in briefs may be a godsend or a curse for runners. Some runners prefer shorts with built-in briefs to wear separate underwear or compression shorts. 

While most men use underwear for support, some women choose to run or work out in formfitting tights without it. For example, male and female cyclists do not wear underwear under cycling shorts with a built-in chamois. In general, determining which underwear works best for you is a process of trial and error.

Running Accessories Should Be Tight Against Your Body

Chafing solutions for runners
Choose your accessories wisely to avoid chafing – especially with a phone in your pocket!

Many runners nowadays use some sort of running accessory. It may be a hydration belt, a weighted backpack to burn a few more calories, or an armband to carry your phone while running long distances. 

All of these items can cause chafing due to the contact of the straps with your skin. To prevent chafing when jogging, tighten the straps so that the equipment does not bounce or move around. It’s also good to apply petroleum jelly or another lotion to the skin regions that come into touch with the straps.

Understand Your Materials

Your running gear’s fabric is just as vital as its fit. Unfortunately, some fabrics, such as denim and cotton, absorb too much moisture to be useful as workout clothing. Plus, they’re heavier, which means they put more strain on your skin.

To reduce chafing, use clothes that assist you to stay dry by drawing sweat away from your skin, such as moisture-wicking fabrics like:

  • Polyester works best, including recycled polyester.
  • Nylon helps prevent chafing on long runs.
  • Materials made from bamboo are known to prevent chafing.

If you’re suffering from irritation around your feet and ankles, be sure to upgrade to a pair of long distance running shoes if you haven’t already done so.

After A Long Run, Maintain Proper After-Care

After a run, taking care of your legs will assist in alleviating any discomfort caused by chafing. Begin by bathing in lukewarm water as soon as possible. The combination of hot water and chafed thighs is a formula for disaster! 

To avoid irritation, pat your skin dry rather than rubbing it. After that, use a nice lotion, coconut oil, or shea butter to moisturize your skin. If your skin is raw and inflamed, skip the moisturizing step and use a diaper rash cream instead. 

Desitin or A+D Zinc Oxide cream are two popular products. Zinc oxide is the active element in these lotions, making them antibacterial and calming. 

Before, during, and after your walk, run, cycle, or another workout, drink plenty of water. It will allow you to sweat freely, preventing salt crystals from forming and aggravating the chafing. 

When you’re not exercising, it’s also a good idea to maintain your skin hydrated and clean. It can help prevent the skin from becoming even more dry or sensitive.

Longer Runs Increase The Risk Of Chafing

Chafing is one of the most unpleasant aspects of long runs.

But, again, recognized for the skin irritation caused by skin rubbing against the skin (or whatever else) frequently, it is often an issue that worsens when you run for greater distances or more extended periods.

The more friction there is, the more irritated you will become.

Running shorter distances reduces the likelihood of chafing for various reasons and eliminates the necessity for the majority of the measures listed above. Shorter runs, for example, cause you to sweat less, reducing the possibility of discomfort caused by excessive sweating. 

Because of the shorter running distance, there is less friction and repeated movement, eliminating chaffing caused by excessive friction. As a result, adopting the required measures for longer runs is far more critical than for shorter runs to avoid chafing. 

This does not, however, imply you are entirely safe. Chaffing can still occur in runners with sensitive or irritated skin. If you have previously suffered chaffing, using the appropriate tight-fitting outfits as well as anti-chafing OTC lubricants should be at the top of your list.

Here’s a selection of useful anti-chafing tips for runners:

Tips On How To Treat Chafing From Long Runs

Stop what you’re doing if you start to experience chafing during your workout. If soap and water are available, clean the area, pat it dry, and bandage it. If you absolutely must continue, use a protective lubricant like petroleum jelly to avoid further harm. 

Adjust your clothing or straps to don’t brush against the chafed region. If you have clean and dry clothing on hand, change into it.

If your activity still causes friction in the region, you should either stop or move to a different activity. For example, if chafing is a problem, consider cycling, walking, or strength training activities instead. Once you’ve been chafed, treat the area as though it were an open wound.

Then, to cure the condition, follow these procedures.

  • Clean the area with lukewarm (not hot) water and mild soap. It is likely to sting and create significant discomfort. In fact, you may not realize you’ve chafed until you feel the pain in the shower. On the wound, avoid using alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.
  • Do not massage the area when patting it dry.
  • Cover the chafed area with a gauze pad to allow the wound to heal naturally.
  • You may also smear a thin coating of petroleum jelly (even Vaseline) on the area to protect it and keep it moist as it heals. Do not apply antibiotic ointment to a region that does not appear to be infected.

Like how a scratch mark heals, a chafing mark should scab over in a few days, and the scabs should come off spontaneously within a week. Furthermore, because the skin will be sensitive for a few weeks, you should avoid rubbing it. Especially shield it from the sun if it is an area that will be exposed.

You may need to stop doing the action that produced the chafing or change your clothing or gear to avoid rubbing the region.

The Bottom Line on Dreaded Runner’s Chafing

In general, the best strategy to deal with chafing is to avoid letting it occur in the first place

Wear comfortable training clothing that fits correctly and provides extra coverage to high-friction regions of your body to help keep your skin protected and healthy. In addition, preparing ahead of time can help keep your run enjoyable and chafe-free.

Author Profile

Michael Paulson

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Michael is a frequent contributor, which is a miracle to us as he quite literally runs for days with the rest of his time. An ultra marathon specialist, Mike is the kind of guy who posts a 30K Morning Run on Strava before we’ve had our breakfast and prefixes it with the smart-assery: “Guess I wasn’t feeling it today.” He runs like he writes: slow with bits flying everywhere.
Michael Paulson

Revel SPorts Contributor

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