Chafing and blisters, the bane of many runners existence. We all have our favorite methods of preventing and treating them. Today I’ll tell you about mine as well as some that I’ve heard about from other runners.
Chafing can happen anywhere that our clothes rub against our skin as well as anywhere our skin rubs against other bits of skin. Moisture, whether from sweat or the environment can make it worse. Dehydration can also be a contributing factor, so there is yet another reason to stay hydrated.
A quick search of a site like Amazon shows a fairly large number of products devoted to preventing chafing. The basic idea is to reduce the friction where skin is rubbing or being rubbed. The only gel/cream type product I’ve used is Body Glide. It works just fine for me, though I’ve heard from some people that it gives up after a while if they get very wet. I did not have any problems on our 26.2 mile training run in the rain, so I can’t speak to that. On long runs I apply it to all the places most people would, like inner thighs and inner arms, as well as underneath my bra straps. I don’t think I experienced bra strap chafing until we got up to 20 or more miles, but it was very uncomfortable when I did.
Little Sister Sole, on the other hand, swears by a product called Slider, and I can tell you that it at least smells better than Body Glide does. Little Sister Sole has very sensitive skin, so if you have used Body Glide and found it irritating, Slider might be a good solution for you. Other folks use plain old Vaseline Petroleum Jelly. I haven’t tried that because I find that overly slick sensation rather repulsive, especially on my feet.
Speaking of which, some folks use Vaseline Petroleum Jelly (or any petroleum jelly, I imagine) on their feet to prevent blisters, especially between the toes. I could not personally tolerate the way that would feel (hey, we all have our issues!), but if it works for you, I say go for it.
My primary defense against blisters on my feet is my socks, which got their very own blog post here. But what about blisters between the toes? Some folks swear by the Injinji toe socks. I have one pair and I find that they fit my toes well, but not the rest of the foot, so I don’t run in them. I use tape on my toes, but please be aware that if you use this method you need to be very careful. The type of tape I use is very stretchy and I do NOT pull it tight on my toes. My toes swell a lot during a long run and I don’t need the circulation getting cut off by my blister prevention method. I apply the tape around both of the toes that rub together, careful to wrap it all the way around so that it doesn’t come loose during my run and end up causing a blister. And I’ve never had any trouble with the tape rubbing against the adjacent toes and causing trouble, in case you’re wondering.
The first time I ever used the Elastikon tape was on the bottom of my foot, before I got the good socks. On our twelve mile run, we weren’t very far along before I started to feel a hot-spot on the bottom of my right foot. Fortunately for me, one of the other runners had brought along Elastikon tape. She helped me stretch the tape out before applying it to cover the hot-spot, and within a mile or two I couldn’t feel it anymore.
I have also used the tape (applied loosely, again) to prevent nipple chafe. A friend of mine, upon hearing that I was training for a marathon, advised me very emphatically, to tape my nipples on long runs and I took that advice very seriously so I’ve never had any trouble. After the Missoula Marathon I got to witness the affects of nipple chafe, because a friend of mine had stripes of blood down the front of his shirt. I am really glad I’ve never experienced that! I bet you want to avoid it, too!
If you decide to carry tape, like I do, you might want to carry a small pair of scissors. I just bring my Leatherman Micra along, since it folds up and won’t poke a hole in the pocket of my nutrition belt. And hey, I can cut tape, measure something small or fix a loose screw. I’m prepared for anything.
Well fitting clothes (not too tight and not too loose) that breathe well and wick moisture are another preventive measure. I have one running shirt that I really like, but I’m afraid to wear it on long runs because the arms are loose and floppy and I worry that it will chafe.
What other chafe and blister prevention tips do you have, dear readers? I’d love to hear them.