How To Prevent Chafing While Running

If you have ever run frequently or over a long distance, you will know all too well about chafing caused by running.

How To Prevent Chafing While Running

Chafing is not considered serious but it can be uncomfortable, sore, and even a hindrance while walking – let alone running!

Chafing is common among runners and is sometimes referred to as “runner’s rash”. It affects most runners at some point, especially new runners, leading to preventive precautions being taken as a result.

So, thankfully, chafing is preventable. And if you have experienced chafing recently or want to prevent it from happening at all (there’s nothing wrong with thinking in advance!), this simple guide will tell you everything you need to know.

What Is Chafing And Why Does Chafing Happen?

Chafing is an abrasion caused by repetitive movements creating friction on the skin. This rubs away the epidermis, exposing the dermis, leaving a sore, irritated patch that looks like a graze or rash.

Among runners, chafing can happen to the inner thighs, groin, underarms, under breast, and nipples.

In addition to friction, it can occur, and be exacerbated by, excessive sweat, wet or humid weather conditions, sensitive skin, and large muscles or limbs.

Chafing is not serious but it can be sore and uncomfortable, making it hard to walk properly and continue one’s running routine.

How To Stop Chafing While Running

How To Prevent Chafing While Running

Chafing is preventable in more than one way, especially when it is caused by running.

So, listed below are five ways you can prevent chafing from happening, before and while running.

Lube Up

One of the most effective ways to prevent chafing is to lubricate the areas that are susceptible to chafing while running.

This can also be effective in reducing the friction and soreness of areas where chafing has already occurred. 

Before running, apply a generous amount of petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, to the susceptible area(s). This reduces any friction and can prevent chafing altogether.

Wear Nylon Or Polyester Clothing

Experienced runners know that wearing loose cotton clothes while running is a big no-no. It is better to opt for tight nylon or polyester clothing that is breathable, with the ability to absorb or wick sweat.

While choosing your running attire, including your underwear, it’s also worth checking the seams and tags.

On one hand, tags and labels in the wrong areas can exacerbate chafing. On the other hand, rough seams can also exacerbate chafing, which may require choosing a different size or changing your running clothes altogether.

Wear Compression Shorts Or Running Tights

Compression clothes are popular among runners and athletes in general, as they can prevent chafing, absorb perspiration, and improve performance.

Compression clothes include t-shirts, shirts, shorts, and arm/knee sleeves.

Running tights, in particular, are a type of compression clothing that runners wear to prevent chafing and improve performance.

Running thigh bands are another effective accessory that can help to prevent chafing of the inner thighs. 

Hydrate And Use Antiperspirant

Chafing can happen as a result of sweating (and wet/humid outdoor conditions), so it’s worth taking precautionary measures against this by hydrating and using an effective antiperspirant.

Always aim to apply antiperspirant and hydrate before running. If desired, it can also be a good idea to hydrate while running.

Adjust Running Form

Another reason for chafing is incorrect running form. If you are running with your elbows tucked more than they need to be, or with your legs close together, both of these can easily result in harsh chafing.

Correct running form should involve relaxed shoulders and arms, a level chin, and natural strides that are not too close together or far apart.

Additionally, make sure to be aware that your arms are not tucked or swinging more than ninety degrees.

How To Treat Chafing 

How To Prevent Chafing While Running

Chafing cannot always be avoided, despite taking the above precautions to prevent it. At the same time, chafing often occurs without runners being aware, with the side effects of chafing only developing, and being felt, hours after running.

So, if you have recently experienced chafing, whether it was due to running or not, here are five ways to treat chafing.

Shower After Exercise

Since chafing can be caused by and exacerbated by sweat and moisture, it is best to shower after running (and any exercise, for that matter).

Showering after running will remove perspiration and therefore prevent further exacerbation of chafing, as well as other skin irritations caused by sweat, such as acne.

Showering after exercise does not have to be done immediately but, if so, make sure to match the temperature of the water to your body temperature to prevent any shock to the body.

Apply Healing Ointment

Chafing is treatable by applying healing ointment, such as antibacterial cream, to the irritated area as soon as detected. This will help to soothe any soreness and reduce the risk of infection.

No matter the amount or degree of chafing, antibacterial ointment can be applied as much as desired until healed. 

Powder Up

Applying talcum powder or baby powder to a chafed area can help to absorb unwanted moisture and reduce overall friction.

This is a good method for treating chafing after showering as well as when desired/needed. If you are concerned about the risks of using talc-based powder, however, it is possible to use alternatives such as cornstarch.

Wear Loose Clothing

Contrary to what you should wear while running (tight nylon or polyester clothing), loose, breathable clothing can help to heal chafing by allowing airflow to the irritated area while reducing further friction.

So, when you are experiencing chafing caused by running, try to wear loose, comfortable clothing as much as possible (where the chafing is present) to help the chafing heal faster and more effectively.

Take A Break from Running

Last but not least, while it might be tempting to continue your running routine, it might be beneficial to take a short break from running.

Running, even with preventative measures to stop chafing, can result in prolonging the symptoms and even making the chafing worse.

Despite that, if the above methods for preventing chafing work for you and you find that the chafing doesn’t get worse, there is nothing that should stop you from setting off for another run.


Chafing is common among runners, known as runner’s rash, typically occurring to the inner thighs, groin, underarms, under breast, and nipples.

Thankfully, it is not serious and can be prevented and treated using the methods listed in this guide.

Whether you are experiencing the effects of chafing right now or want to prevent chafing from happening altogether while running, make sure to follow and bookmark this guide to never suffer from runner’s chafing ever again!

Megan Rinzel
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