You Can't Chafe There! – A Story of Why I Don't Want to Learn Something New Every Day

Did you know you could chafe your [insert body part here]? Having run for 15 years, I figured I know pretty much every part of my body I could possibly chafe. Much to my surprise, I found an entirely new spot to rub raw this weekend.

In the past, I’ve rubbed up against chafing more than a few times. For sure, on occasion I’ve rubbed my inner thighs raw, but I now Body Glide before long runs, so that’s no longer a problem. Like most men, I’ve dealt with the nipple chafage. (Guys put on preventive tape or bandaids – bloody nipples don’t make you look tough, they make you look stupid.) A few times, I’ve experienced shoulder and neck chafing from a Camelback, but haven’t had that problem since switching to Nathan hydration packs. From time to time, I’ve had chafing on my lower back from a pack, be it over the shoulder or waist back. Once or twice, a bad job of zipping the leg of my tights has resulted in it tearing up my Achilles. Even an ignored earphone cord tucked into an iPod armband has take it’s toll on my inner arm. None of these were problems on Saturday.

In advising a new ultrarunner, I often say that one of the biggest aspects of running an ultra is avoiding problems in the first place and minimizing the consequences of problems when they do arise. As I did not previously know of the possibility of this chafing problem, I could not have prevented it. That said, I could have done a better job of limiting the impact of the chafing once I became aware of it. Instead, I will have to suffer through this week and hope that I’ve come up with a good solution in time for the Stone Cat 50 this weekend.

Likely areas for chafing:

  • Inner thighs
  • Nipples
  • Arm pit area – especially for women

Someways to prevent chafing are:

  • Wear proper clothing
  • Try to stay dry
  • Take prophylactic measures, such as using a product like Body Glide/Sport Shield* or applying bandaids, in area where you are likely to chafe
  • Avoid near gear on race day or other occasions where you can’t or won’t

How to treat chafing:

  • As excruciating as it may be, clean the area as if it wear an open wound – it is
  • Cover with sterile bandage, if possible, to prevent further rubbing
  • Apply antibiotic ointment as needed

Anyone have a good (bad) chafing story? Any unusual target of chasing? Pointers?

Run smart (and pain free) out there.

[* Note that products like Body Glide or Sports Shield are more effective than vaseline and don’t feel nearly as gross.]

There are 12 comments

  1. Lisa Smith-Batchen

    Great information on your blog!Thank you for taking the time to share it all!!Looks like I missed my chance with RW:(Thanks for being such a great inspiration.Lisa

  2. Trail Goat

    Sorry, you missed out on RW – the writer had me convinced that she was getting in touch with you.It's my hope that some of your students (and others) will find a useful tidbit or two on my blog.I hope you and your family are enjoying Tucson.

  3. angie's pink fu

    I've found that putting bodyglide on an area that is already chafed helps the healing (after I've washed it, of course).I've gotten horrible chafing on my back from my sports bra from keeping myself wet during a hot hot race to stay cool. yuck!!!

  4. Trail Goat

    Angie,I'll have to try the post chafing body glide application thing sometime. This go round I'm not leaving anything to chance and will stick to a triple antibiotic cream with pain relieving ointment. I need to be back at 100% for another 50 miler this weekend.I'd never heard of the back of a sports bra being a problem… then again, I never thought the lining of running shorts could do so much damage.

  5. Tommy

    I'd recommend using a cycling product such as Chamois Butt'r or Bag Balm. I've used them on my longer runs (although no where near as far as yours!) and have eliminated the problem. As you're well aware, this is one lesson you only want to learn once!And thanks for the blog! As a triathlete, I'm always up for new (and sometimes stupid) challenges. Now you've got me thinking of doing an ultra next year. Thanks! ;-)

  6. Kel

    I solved the chafing problem by wearing body hugging clothing as a base layer: compression shorts (aka bike shorts) on the bottom under my regular shorts, Under Armour compression shirt on top, seamless sports bra. Never had to use body glide ever since.

  7. olga

    Every time cold season starts and long sleeves go on, I get that armpits chafing…merely because I never remember to put a bodyglide unless I am in a race! I am realy lousy when I am training…

  8. Trail Goat

    Tommy, Glad you like the blog. Let me know if there's anything you'd like to know or a topic that would help you in your transition to ultrarunning. ;-) I thought I'd learned my lesson. I took care of the most likely chafing spots. This one caught me by surprise.Kel,Form fitting clothing would have saved me last weekend. Olga,You are allowed to use Body Glide on training runs. ;-)

  9. Mike Grade

    Hey Bryon,

    Thanks for putting all this great information out here for all of us. Your site seems to capture a lot of the developments in ultrarunning in which I'm interested. In the last few days, I've checked out your story on chafing (inner thighs are my problem – is reapplying BG or SportShield a good solution when things start to chafe after say 30-35 miles of running?) and your story on your run at Dick Collins (I was also there, albeit considerably slower!). Thanks for writing, interviewing and pulling all this content together. If you're still accepting folks' two cents, I say go for it at Western, and let somebody else pick up the writing slack. Don't you deserve it? I'm no writer, but I'm a WS enthusiast (I've paced each of the last three years and I also qualified for the lottery at DC) and would gladly offer any help possible in covering it.

    Take care,

    Mike

    1. Bryon Powell

      Thanks for the kind words, Mike. Reapplying an anti-chafing lub during a race is a good option. I reapplied bodyglide at the Dick Collins turnaround.

      As for Western States, it's likely that I'll be running up the Escarpment early on a Saturday morning late next June.

  10. T.

    How do you prevent/tx hoo-ha and butt crack chafing during ultras or multiday stage races? Dead serious and I'm a small framed female (I.e. not a lot of extra parts sliding around).

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