I’ve got a fun topic for today! Chafing! I chafe, my running friends chafe, and quite honestly, I don’t know a single long-distance runner who doesn’t chafe. In doing a quick investigation on distance running and chafing, I came across this lovely explanation:
Chafing will occur wherever there are two skin surfaces rubbing together. Clothes too are a common cause, particularly those that have tough edges or seams that are in constant contact with the skin. The friction rubs your skin raw and the unavoidable sweating naturally makes it worse. The most susceptible areas on your body would be the upper thighs, crotch area, nipples, and armpits. For an ultramarathon you might be carrying a small belt bag or some other pack for fuel and hydration, so it’s not unusual to get chafing on your waist or lower back too. -Endurance Planet
Knock on wood, for the most part, the chafing I experience is the kind I discover after the fact (after running miles and miles for a few hours) when I hop in the shower. The second the chafed area touches the warm water, I get a cringe running up my spine in from the burning pain. After a few seconds the burning dissipates and pain turns into a dull irritation. I am lucky. I have yet to experience severe pain from chafing in the middle of the run. This guy is probably hating life right now:
I have friends who wore a new brand of shorts and chafed so badly during the run, they had to stop running and walk, and it even got to the point where calling a friend to pick them up was at the top of the list of ways to stop the intense pain. My feel-it-during-the-run experience is pretty limited to my armpits, and this is always tied to wearing tank tops. When it is a gazillion degrees out in Dallas, I wear tank tops, but as the weather cools, I switch to short sleeve- and eventually long sleeve- shirts. Since I’ve experienced armpit chafing, I am VERY particular about the fit of my short and long sleeve shirts. If the armpit area hangs too low, no thank you! Late in the fall training season when the weather is cool, I don’t need to take any preventative measures to keep my armpits chafe-free, so when it came time to do the Dallas Marathon last year, I didn’t really second guess my chafe-prevention methods, but the day was hot and I wore a tank top and boy did I chafe!
Notice how I’m holding my hand away from my side… the chafing was too tender for me to relax my arms!
So where do I chafe? Well, now you know that my armpits are a target spot. I also have chafed around my shoulders/neck from carrying my Camelbak on long runs. Occasionally, I get barely noticeable from my sports bra. (This is another area where I have friends who have run into a few issues.) Thank you Target for making a sports bra that barely leaves me with any chafing ever (this sports bra in particular). Now if you don’t want too much information, stop reading this paragraph RIGHT NOW! My butt crack is one of my worst chafing target locations. There, I said it. It is public knowledge! My running friends empathize. If they don’t chafe in that exact TMI location, they chafe in another TMI location.
There are a ton of preventative measures out there to help keep people from chafing. Probably one of the most widely used solutions is Body Glide, which just so happens to be what I currently use. Vaseline and Aquaphor are other common solutions. I can usually “glide” myself up on my target areas and this keeps the chafing to a minimum, but sometimes new chafing locations pop up, and I’ve recently experienced one. I am now chafing on my lower back. This just started a few weeks ago, even though I’ve been wearing the same shorts all along and I don’t wear a hydration belt (any more).
I’m a little baffled about this all-of-a-sudden new chafing spot. There are only two things that I can come up with that are causing this unexpected raw spot. 1. I’ve gained a few pounds since the spring. I wouldn’t think a couple of pounds would affect my shorts rubbing me raw on my lower back, but maybe. 2. I stopped wearing underwear with my running shorts. Up until a few months ago, if I wore running shorts, I wore dry-fit underwear too. In the heat, I’ve dropped this extra layer and perhaps it was serving as an extra layer that prevented my lower back from chafing. I’ll have to run an underwear test to know for sure if that is the culprit.
So there you have it, the not-always-talked-about downside of distance running. It hurts so good… or it just plain hurts! Don’t forget to enter the StarKist picnic basket giveaway! The drawing closes on Tuesday night. Have a wonderful, chafe-free weekend!