PT365 Run Plans | Give blisters the rub: 12 anti-chafe products to make your long runs hurt a little less
Going long for the first time? Make sure you protect your skin from one of running’s biggest foes: friction.
Anti-chafe creams, balms and powders are arguably some of the most important parts of your long run kit and will be sorely missed — literally — if you leave home without them.
These products will create a protective barrier between your clothing, gear and skin, cutting down on the likelihood that you’ll finish your miles with painful blisters and irritation.
Don’t believe me? Try running a steamy 15-miler sans salve. It’ll hurt in more ways than you think.
Here are 12 products, including some you might already have at home, that will make your long run a little less painful.
At the running store:
Body Glide ($9). This marathon staple looks like a stick of deodorant and can be found in most specialty running or sporting goods stores. In addition to the tried-and-true original formula, the company now makes nonpetroleum, nonparaben options for women (extra moisturizing ingredients), cyclists (dry, non-oily formula to guard against saddle sores) and feet. Look for Skin Glide in a tube if you’re grossed out by the stick. If you sweat heavily, you may find that you need something more like …
Sport Shield ($13). This silicone-based liquid roll-on is our personal favorite for long, humid runs. It tends to stay put better than Body Glide, making it ideal if you sweat heavily. Because it’s a roll-on, and because you might need to put it in — ahem — certain places, the container tends to get a little funky before it’s empty.
RunGoo ($17). A protective foot cream that prevents blisters on your feet using a combination of lanolin and soft and hard waxes. It works, makers say, because the waxes blend into an emulsion that cuts down on friction and helps it stay put all day. Makers say this’ll also reduce calluses while you workout. www.footkinetics.com
Trail Toes ($13). Trail Toes was created in 2013 by Army Maj. Vincent Antunez, a physician assistant, while he was based in Afghanistan. The cream contains petrolatum, silicone — which acts as a barrier as well as a moisturizer — and beeswax to act as a thickener and allow breathability. “We like to say it decreases the ABCs of body breakdown (abrasions, blisters, and chafing),” Antunez wrote in an email. Don’t let the name fool you: This product isn’t just for toes. (Military shoppers get 10 percent off with the code USMilitary.) www.trailtoes.com
Ruby’s Lube ($13). Ruby’s is an all-natural balm with five ingredients you can pronounce: olive oil, lemongrass, calendula, beeswax and benzoin. It’s water- and sweat-resistant, but does it work as well as its lab-made counterparts? In our opinion, not quite, but it’ll get the job done. U.S. residents can register online and receive a free mini sample.
At the drug store:
Diaper rash cream ($4-$10). Bad chafes can make you feel like a big baby, so avoid them on your next run by taking a page from parents and smear on some Desitin or A+D Ointment for a low-cost friction fix. Heading out in the rain or going for miles in sloppy mud? These work great to keep feet and toes dryish and blister-free on wet runs. Desitin’s moisture-blocking zinc oxide can also help dry out chafe wounds post-workout. Have a really bad chafe? Try applying some diaper rash cream before you get in the shower and save yourself some agony. Most creams will stain clothes and don’t always wash out, so think twice before using these under your favorite dark running shirt.
Aquaphor ($5). This petrolatum/panthenol/glycerin/bisabolol ointment is better suited for post-workout chafe management than pre-run prevention, but the tiny travel size tubes are easy to carry, making it a good product to apply mid-run as hot spots form. The goo will create a “semi-occlusive barrier on the skin,” meaning it’ll protect while still allowing wounds to breathe. Fragrance-, preservative- and dye-free, Aquaphor is a good choice for athletes with sensitive skin.
Bag Balm ($6). Bag Balm was invented in 1899 to help soften cow udders, but the salve in the recognizable green tin works great to prevent hot spots. Bag Balm is denser than Vaseline and Aquaphor, so you can feel it go on and know where it’s sticking — and where it’s not. This is also is a low-grade antiseptic, so it can help inhibit bacterial growth.
Anti Monkey Butt Powder ($6). The only powder on our list, this talcum powder-plus-calamine product will absorb sweat to reduce friction. Sprinkle some powder in shoes — or boots — before long days on your feet to cut down on blisters.
In your medicine cabinet:
Vaseline. Triple-purified Vaseline Jelly (the original stuff) is 100 percent white petrolatum and works by creating a sealing barrier to protect skin. Slather some of this under seams or spots where you already have a chafe to make it through your run without making your wound worse. Winter warriors can also smear some of this hypoallergenic jelly on their lips and face to prevent wind burns in the cold.
Band-Aids. This medicine cabinet staple can prevent or protect blisters. To prevent, slap on a Band-Aid over potential hot spots, especially on feet or nipples. (Guys, go vertical to keep Band-Aids from peeling off). To protect, try covering blisters first with a small gauze pad or cotton square to prevent the Band-Aid adhesive from adhering to your wound.
Medical tape. A great — and cheaper — option to cover nipples or to protect skin under sports bra bands.
What’d we miss? Do you use something else to preventing chafing? Tell us in the comments.