With Spring in full swing, and less than three weeks to go until the London Marathon, things are hotting up for us runners! We chatted to Richard Edmonds, co-founder of Runderwear, for his top tips on how we can all avoid the dreaded chafe!
So, what is chafing?
“It’s something that makes all runners shudder! It’s a friction-induced skin injury where the outer layer of skin (epidermis) is rubbed creating microscopic tears, exposing the skin layer below (dermis), which becomes red, raw and irritated. The thighs, groin, underarms, under breast and nipples are particularly vulnerable but it can occur anywhere on your body.
Why are runners more susceptible to chafing?
“Runners, along with other endurance athletes, are more likely to experience friction due to repetitive movements, skin-to-skin contact of multiple body parts, combined with sweat. Excess moisture from sweating, water sports such as a triathlon swim or damp weather conditions will increase the likelihood of chafing.
“When we perspire, the salt residue aggravates the situation, as can sea water. It acts like sandpaper, grinding and irritating the skin. The post-run shower can certainly be an extremely painful experience.
Which fabrics should runners be looking for then?
“Seamless, breathable and sweat wicking fabrics. The layers of clothing closest to the skin should be a moisture-wicking fabric, delivering sweat away from the body and minimising rubbing or irritation.
“Cotton is traditionally thought of as good for hot weather, however the technology now exists to make man-made ‘super-wicking’ materials. For example, Runderwear excels at wicking moisture away, with its unique 92% Polyamide material.
What style kit should we be looking for, loose-fitting or tight?
“Make sure you choose underwear, socks and base layers with an ergonomic fit, that’s just right. Loose fitting garments, combined with sweat, will increase the chances of rubbing. That said, our feet can swell when running, particularly in hot weather so it’s good to wear apparel with a certain amount of ‘give’. Check the materials for the presence of Elastane which will indicate this (Runderwear is 8% Elastane).
“Running in the heat increases exertion levels, so you want to remain as light as possible when on the move to retain fluid and energy. Many people consider the weight of their trainers, but choosing clothing made from a lightweight fabric for underwear, socks, shorts and base layers can really make a difference.
How important is hydration for reducing the risk of chafing?
“Fluids are so important to keep on top of – not only to keep the body hydrated and functioning at its best, but also to reduce the risk of chafing. If you are dehydrated, your body is unable to flush salts away from your skin as easily. Drink lots of water before, during, and after exercise, allowing you to perspire freely so the perspiration doesn’t dry into salt crystals that can enhance the chafing.”
Runderwear is an award winning range of chafe-free sports performance clothing. Check out the range www.runderwear.co.uk