Rubbed the Wrong Way: Warm Weather Chafing

As the weather warms, the coverage we look for in running clothes drops off dramatically. It seems so freeing to run with as little on as possible. I will be faster! I’m like a wild animal! It’s not until I get home and survey the damage from skin rubbing on skin or cloth that I realize it wasn’t such a good idea after all.

Chafing! Miles and miles of it. Burning, stinging, oozing, and bleeding in some very sensitive regions of my body. Add a run commuter backpack to the mix and there is bound to be chafing in areas of which you’d never thought.

We put together a list of problem areas and anti-chafing solutions, as well as a some additional fixes you can make, to keep your run commute as smooth and irritation-free as possible.

Running Form

Running with a backpack requires some adjustment. Even if you haven’t paid much attention to your form before, you will immediately recognize if adjustments to your stride or posture need to be made. Runner’s World recently reposted one of the best articles on form that I have ever read. It was written in 2005, and there have certainly been lots of others since, but not many with advice that you can so easily apply on your own.

Your pack, with sternum and waist straps buckled and cinched, will normally pull your shoulders back and straighten your posture while you run. Run with strides too far apart under this setup however, and no matter how well your pack fits, it will rub somewhere. Practice running with good form and you will not only reduce the likelihood of backpack chafe, you’ll also find yourself to be a more effective runner without the pack.

Chafing Problem Areas

Under arms: Device cases and backpack straps are the worst offenders here. To borrow from a recent very popular animated film in which the main character suffers from complex icy architecture shooting from her fingers unsolicited, “Conceal it. Don’t feel it.” A layer of clothing between you and the offending strap and a good bit of lube is the only way to prevent this if running with these items is desired or required. For these hot summer months, try an ultra-lightweight moisture wicking shirt. Take your pack and device case with you to the store to try on new running clothes. That way you can see if they fit comfortably together and ensure that your trouble spots are covered.

Sports bra chafe

Sports bra chafe

Shoulders, Lower Back and Stomach: These are all from backpack straps. We here at TRC are of at least two different schools of thought on this one. Josh likes his straps tight; I like mine kinda loose. Again, look at your form and your pack and make adjustments on the fly. If your pack is rubbing a hole in your back, it is moving around. If it is moving around, either you are bouncing or wasting tons of energy with side-to-side motion, or your pack it too loose, or possibly both.

Here is Josh’s advice to a new run commuter suffering from backpack-related chafing:

‘First of all, cinch everything down like crazy. In order, tighten your waist strap, then shoulder straps, then sternum strap… All of these can be adjusted on the run as well. Usually, I readjust everything once I’ve been running for a few minutes.

Wear polyester-based shirts; either 100% poly, or at a minimum, a 50/50 poly/cotton blend. After you start sweating, these types of shirts tend to stick to your skin better than cotton, and provide a slippery, non-irritating surface for your pack to slide over if it is loose.’

Nipples: Chafed nipples are mostly commonly a problem for men, but women can get them too from wearing an ill-fitting or poorly supporting bra, but that may need to be addressed in a later post. The cause is the same though: bouncing. Noticing a theme here? Some guys stick Band-Aids over their nips, others use Vaseline or an anti-chafe product, such as Red11Sport. And then, some just deal with it until their nipples become less sensitive. One or two good long, sweaty runs will result in painfully raw, possibly bleeding, nipples. Thankfully they heal quickly and will be tougher and less likely to chafe again. As long you keep running regularly, they will stay that way. As a mother who has breastfed two children, I have to say that this last option is probably the easiest in the long run if you can handle it.

Inner thighs: I am a normal-sized human being, and my thighs touch. They did when I was a little girl, and they will until the day I die, or, God-forbid, only have one leg. This is arguably the most common spot for chafing on a woman. Do an internet search on chafing (like I did for this post) and most of what comes up are blog posts from women whose thighs touch and means by which they’ve tried to prevent it. You must do one or both of two things: cover them or lube them.

Thigh chafe. That shower is gonna hurt...

Thigh chafe. That shower is gonna hurt…

“I feel like such a sexy beast standing at the trailhead lubing up my thighs before a run,” said no one ever. But no one ever managed a sexy walk while suffering from inner thigh chafe either. Compression-style gear is tight-fitting, like bike shorts without the chamois, and acts like a second skin, so all the friction will be on it and not your sensitive bits. However if heading out of doors wearing what feels

[looks] like sausage casing doesn’t appeal to you, try a loose, lightweight layer on top. You may also notice that shortening your stride length helps keep your shorts down on/between your legs. I don’t know who told running clothes manufactures that everyone likes (and can wear) short shorts for running. Some companies are getting better about making slightly longer lengths, but I for one do not want very short or very tight. Rubbing a friction reducing product on the areas that touch will not only help keep your thigh skin from rubbing off, but also your shorts from riding up, and you from walking like a monkey for a couple of days.

Anti-Chafe Solutions

Try out different kinds of anti-friction products. You can often buy small/trial sizes of different kinds to help you find one you like. When you do find one that works, buy several so you’re never stuck without it.

A few of our lubricants on display. L to R - Aquaphor (generic, store-brand), Body Glide, Vaseline.

A few of our lubricants on display. L to R – Aquaphor (generic, store-brand), Body Glide, Vaseline.

Aquaphor and Vaseline are my favorite products because they have so many uses. They are also affordable and easy to find. Before I head out on a run, I smear it on my lips, under the band of my sports bra and shorts, and on my thighs. If, despite all my preventative measures, I still get a raw spot, Aquaphor is very soothing as well.

Here are some products we like, and where to find them:

On-the-Run Chafing Emergencies

I may scandalize or otherwise shock you here, but picture this: you’re headed home from work. It’s been a fine day, relatively normal, but you are eagerly anticipating leaving on vacation on Friday. It is only Tuesday, but you have much on your mind- saltwater fishing, that chef that’s going to come cook an amazing dinner for y’all, which books are you going to read, how many pairs of running shoes can bring without your partner mocking you…Anyway, the run home will be great for thinking about those things.

It’s pretty hot, and you are getting ridiculously sweaty, because in this story you are me and I sweat. A lot. Suddenly, a twinge of something, a tiny prick of stinging pain rouses you from your pleasant thoughts. You realize you forgot to put on your anti-chafing stuff! DAMMMMMITTTT! Pleasant thoughts instantly change to – cute new bathing suit is ruined, ocean water is going to burn like acid, how am I going to look amazing wearing shorts and walking like someone who is just getting used to standing upright? If you can get over how gross this idea is, you still can. Raise your hand up to your mouth and spit a big glob of saliva on it, cough something up if you have to. Then rub it on the spot that’s starting to chafe (in this story, your thighs, but I’ve used it under my arms, my bra band, and my pack shoulder straps too – don’t judge), and every time it dries out, do it again until you get home. Disgusting? Yes, absolutely, but it’s better than the alternative in my book.

So, there it is. I hope these tips and ideas will get you through a long, hot summer of run commuting without losing too much skin. I’d love to hear how you manage chafing and your high friction areas too.

The Great Unboxing – SKORA Shoes for the Run Commuters

Heads up runners and run commuters! 

The three of us here at TRC headquarters were given three different pairs of SKORA running shoes to review for you, so we will be testing them out over the next few weeks and posting a detailed, three-person review, so you will have all of the information you’ll need to make an informed decision before buying some for yourself.

Here were some of our initial thoughts after opening them up and briefly trying them out:

The cushioning was minimal and firm, but comfortable.

The Forms fit very well. The nearest comparable shoe-feel that I’ve experienced is the New Balance MR10’s.

Though I was given a size 11 of the red shoes (Phase), I can still comfortably fit into the size 10 black Form. SKORA says their shoes run true to size, but I think they run quite long. I did notice that the size 10 didn’t feel very wide, which is a trend with most minimal, zero drop shoes. 

The shoes fit my feet like well-protected socks. I didn’t notice any pressure points, most likely because they contoured/moulded to the foot so evenly.

Other than sizing differences, these fit well. My heel sits perfectly in the back and feels locked down, and the footbed is contoured almost perfectly to my foot. Interestingly, the removable insole has little bumps all over it. It struck me as of until I remembered reading a study where scientists found that small bumps on the insole of shows can help improve the wearer’s proprioception and balance. I wonder if that would affect people while running though.

The stitching and seams on the Forms are top-notch and appear very durable.

I love the asymmetrical lacing, it’s yet another aspect of these sites that gives a great fit.

The leather is soft and reminds me of some of the better soccer cleats I wore in my playing days, though I find it funny that those companies almost completely replaced real leather with faux leather years ago.

SKORA Forms

SKORA Forms

Hall with the SKORA Phase

Hall with the SKORA Phase

Kyle wearing the SKORA Base

Kyle wearing the SKORA Base

 

SKORA Form fresh out of the box

SKORA Form fresh out of the box

Kyle trying out the SKORA Base

Kyle trying out the SKORA Base

Speed-lacing with the SKORA Phase

Speed-lacing with the SKORA Phase

For more info, visit SKORA’s website or check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

By |2016-10-22T20:26:44+00:00October 18th, 2013|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , |3 Comments

Review: RIBZ Front Pack

We were recently asked if we wanted a free RIBZ Front Pack (coordinated by Deep Creek Public Relations) in consideration for review publication. While it’s normally promoted as a product for a wide variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing and kayaking, we decided to try it out and see how well it performed for run commuting.

We ran it through two different scenarios: run commuting with the front pack/backpack together, and one with the front pack alone. The results were photographed and video-recorded on separate days.

P1040037-600

Initial Inspection

Stored neatly in it’s own drawstring bag, the RIBZ Front Pack is made of lightweight nylon and overall construction is fairly minimal. It runs $59.99, comes in three colors, and two sizes (Regular and Small). Our review model was a Regular size in Alpine (Green).

The pack straps are thinly padded and narrow, with the ability to slide forwards and backwards freely from the middle of your shoulder blades to about the middle of your chest. The two main compartments are very roomy, with zippered pouches on the outside and mesh pockets on the inside. Both of these zip together in the middle with a large plastic zipper. The shoulder straps cinch down tightly, and a stretchable band behind the pack tightens down to fit it snug on your torso. It reminds me of my old LCE from my army days, in both form and function.

Test #1:  RIBZ Front Pack with Backpack

Gearing Up: After putting on the front pack and zipping it up, I strapped my Osprey Manta 20 to my back and cinched down all the straps. The waist strap had to be secured a little bit lower that usual, so that it fit underneath the front pack which covered most of my stomach. The chest and shoulder straps fit like normal, with the front pack’s thin shoulder straps lying directly underneath the Manta’s. It felt good as a complete unit.

Running:  I started out at an 8:30 pace and ran on the street, switching to sidewalk soon thereafter. Everything felt fine: I didn’t notice any spots that might chafe, my breathing wasn’t hindered, and it wasn’t uncomfortable on my torso. After about 20 minutes, I began noticing some small annoyances.

First, there was bounce. After the front pack started heating up and getting damp with sweat, the material became more broken in and flexible. The contents of one of my pouches began bouncing quite a bit. One item began hitting my side with each new step, and I could tell this would become a problem if left alone. I repacked the contents and it helped, but it didn’t eliminate bounce (see video below). A compression strap on each pouch would most likely take care of that problem.

Second, the RIBZ Front Pack’s shoulder straps drifted a lot. It wasn’t a major issue, but I had to readjust about every 5 minutes to keep them in check. I imagine hikers have this issue, too. A simple fix RIBZ could make would be adding small velcro straps to each shoulder strap; when a backpack was placed on top, they could wrap around and lock on to the straps, securing them as one unit.

The Front Pack covers a good portion of your torso, so keep that in mind if you are intending to use it during very hot summer days. I felt hotter than I normally do during my run commute in 60 degree weather. I imagine it would be pretty uncomfortable when it’s 90 with 85% humidity.

Overall, I liked it! Having access to items without taking my pack off was great; especially when I needed to get out the camera and tripod frequently. Distribution of weight was nice, too. I’m used to running with all of the weight on my back and it was refreshing to have some of that added to the front of my body. Wearing the Manta/RIBZ combination didn’t drastically alter my running form; however, as you can see in the video below, I had to run with my arms out a bit farther than normal. The change was noticeable enough to feel it in my shoulders afterwards.

Test #2:  RIBZ Front Pack by Itself

It was OK. The same issues from before were only worsened with the removal of the backpack. The straps drifted backward this time, as opposed to sideways. The bouncing — well, just check out the video below.

Storage was awesome: 700 cu. in. was plenty of space for my normal run commuting supplies. The ability to easily access things was fantastic. No chafing, but my running form did change quite a bit. It worked, but I wouldn’t do it everyday.

Recommended for Run Commuting?

Not unless you combine it with a backpack. Great for hiking or biking, though.

By |2018-02-27T15:01:12+00:00May 13th, 2013|Categories: Gear, General|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

Are you a minimal or barefoot run commuter?

We’re interested in finding out if any of you have ever run commuted barefoot.  We’re also wondering what impact the minimal shoe craze of the past few years has had on you as a runner.  Help us find out by taking a quick poll and then check out the infographic from Altra Zero Drop Footwear explaining the importance of foot strike and minimal running.

If you have run to work barefoot, send us a message, tell us about it, and we’ll feature you in a future post.

Cheers!

Running-Without-Shoes

By |2016-10-22T20:26:46+00:00February 14th, 2013|Categories: General|Tags: , , , , , |8 Comments

In the News: Man runs 4,685 days without a break

Whoa…

Dave Bradshaw has logged around 37,000 miles over the past 12.5 years averaging around 8 miles a day.

Some quick highlights from the article:

  • Gets in a run just after having surgery (not a few days after – the same day)
  • Runs Grandma’s Marathon in 2:27:56
  • Goes for a 12-mile run while wife is in labor

And how else does this amazing runner get in his miles?

On the days when he’s not running to work he’s carting his two cute kids to day care and running later.

Hats off to a fellow family-juggling run commuter!

Read the full story here:  Macedon’s Dave Bradshaw has run 4,685 days without a break

By |2016-10-22T20:26:58+00:00August 18th, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Running Injury Free

What do shin splints and a bad carburetor have in common?  Both of them will keep you from getting to work until they’re repaired.  For run commuters, a small injury can keep you off the road for a week or more.

We have to remember we’re not out running a race – we’re running to or from work, so there is no use in sprinting to the point of exhaustion (and we’re running with backpacks for goshsakes).   In addition, when you look at footfall of runners in general, a majority of us are heel strikers…

Which leads us to a great article from No Meat Athlete, called The Simple Way to Injury-Proof Your Stride (For Good!) that offers an excellent and easy technique that I think is very applicable to us as run commuters.

It’s simple: three steps per second (or 180 per minute) while running.

When you turn your legs over at this rate, you:

  • Are forced to take shorter, lighter strides
  • Keep your feet underneath you, rather than way out in front
  • Strike the ground with your midfoot, rather than your heel
  • Spend more time in the air and less time “braking” on the ground

All these factors add up to two big things: Greater efficiency, and dramatically reduced risk of injury.

One thing I’ve personally noticed about running faster with a longer stride length is that your pack tends to move around a lot more (not to mention you really feel the weight) than if you just take it a little slower.   I’m also a firm believer in a feet-underneath-you, midfoot-strike running style, so the appeal of a simple change in cadence in order to correct most issues is awesome.

Try it out and see how it works for you.   We would love to hear the results!

By |2016-10-22T20:27:01+00:00July 1st, 2011|Categories: General, How To|Tags: , , , |2 Comments