How Do Runners Prevent Chafing? 9 Tips

how do runners prevent chafing

Chafing is common among runners. If you are wondering, “How do runners prevent chafing” read on. You can prevent this painful occurrence with the right clothes and a few other tips.

A study of road runners in southern Brazil revealed that 42% of the participants had chafing issues, coming in second to blisters, which were the most common problem. Luckily, you can prevent chafing by wearing tight-fitting clothes, lotion, and choosing sweat-wicking fabrics. I’ve experienced chafing myself and will share tips for preventing it.

Understanding What Causes Chafing

Before discussing the best ways to prevent chafing for runners, it’s essential to understand how this painful situation occurs. 

Chafing is the result of skin friction. The friction can occur either via skin-to-skin or skin-to-clothing contact. When this friction happens, microscopic tears start appearing on the epidermis.

Eventually, the epidermis, the layer of your skin exposed to the outdoors, rubs off, exposing the fragile dermis under-layer.

The result is red, painful skin irritation. Chafing can even result in bleeding, swelling, and crusting in more severe cases.

Runners are particularly susceptible to chafing because they perform repetitive motions for long periods. That, mixed with sweat or rainy weather, can cause the salt in your body to scrape against your skin.

If you are buying your running gear for the first time, you might be wondering how are running shorts measured; follow the link to find out.

Where Chafing Happens

If you’re an aspiring runner doing your due diligence with wanting to know “How do runners prevent chafing?” it’s important to understand where chafing can occur.

Although many people traditionally think of chafing as happening between the thighs, the reality is that runners experience friction on many parts of their bodies, including:

  • Thighs
  • Feet
  • Armpits
  • Nipples

That said, runners can have chafing issues in nearly any place on their body under the right conditions.

How Do Runners Prevent Chafing? 9 Tips

Chafing is painful, but here’s the good news—you can almost entirely prevent it with some preventative care. Speaking from experience here!

So, let’s answer your question of “How do runners prevent chafing?” once and for all.

1. Wear Lotion

Using lotion is one of the most effective ways to reduce chafing, especially if you’re experiencing skin-to-skin friction. You don’t need to spend tons of money on special running lotion, either—a bit of Vaseline will do the trick. 

2. The Tighter the Clothes, the Better

how do runners prevent chafing
Tight clothes can deter chafing.

If you suffer from skin-to-clothes chafing, it’s time to overhaul your running wardrobe. Loose-fitting clothes increase the amount of friction against your skin with each step you take. So, wear clothes that fit tightly to your body while giving you a full range of motion. 

Have a look at our guide, what are the best running tights.

3. Skip Cotton Fabric

Cotton is among the worst materials you can use for your running clothes, given that it absorbs sweat and the friction-inducing salt in your sweat. Instead, choose synthetic fabrics that advertise being great at wicking away sweat.

4. Use Thigh Bands

Since the thighs are the most common area of pain for runners experiencing chafing issues, manufacturers developed anti-chafing thigh bands. You’ll need to wear these bands high up on your thigh. And although I know it seems they’d fall while you run, they have non-slip silicone to hold them in place.

5. Drink Lots of Water

Drinking plenty of water before and during a run has innumerable benefits. But when it comes to chafing, it’ll help dilute the salt concentration in your body. Without salt, the chances of chafing decrease. 

6. Avoid Tags and Seams

If you run with clothing that has tags and seams, you’re automatically increasing the chances of developing a chafing problem. Tags and seams are abrasive and can take a toll on your skin during long runs. So, choose active sports clothing as they rarely have tags or seams.

7. Care For Your Nipples

Men often have a bigger issue than women with chafing nipples, given that a properly fitted sports bra can typically deter chafing. The good news is that men can use custom plasters or nipple protection guards to reduce the friction of their shirts against their nipples to prevent chafing.

8. Keep Powder on Hand

how do runners prevent chafing
Vaseline is commonly used to deter chaffing, but there are other options.

Even though lotions like Vaseline are the most common way to prevent chafing, powders can also be effective. That said, powders are typically ideal for runners who already have some chaffing. In that case, you can purchase a medicated powder, which will help keep the chafing dry and prevent infection while you continue to run your heart out.

9. Assess Your Equipment

Even though clothes are often the go-to item we think of with chafing, many other gadgets can cause this painful nuisance. So, assess your phone armband, heart rate monitor, hydration packs, and any other equipment that comes in contact with your skin to see if you can remove or adjust it to eliminate chafing.