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 […]

By on November 5, 2007 | Comments

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.]

Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.