Dear Alice,

I am training for a half marathon and am experiencing chafing from my sports bra on my sternum area. I have tried using Vaseline, band aids, etc. to prevent it, but nothing seems to work. Any suggestions?

Dear Reader,

Ouch — sorry to hear that your sports bra is rubbing you the wrong way! This seems to be a common problem for runners and exercisers, as indicated by the number of products on the market meant to prevent chafing. Chafing is caused by sweating and rubbing on the sweaty skin, and prevention can begin even before your lace up your running shoes. The four key steps in doing so include:

Staying hydrated: drinking enough water before, during, and after your run will ensure that your sweat is flowing freely, rather than drying into gritty salt crystals that will make the chafing worse.

Staying dry: Try a little sprinkle of talcum powder, cornstarch, or potato starch on your easily-chafed body parts in order to soak up the sweat. You could also look for an anti-chafing powder in your local sports store. You may have to experiment a little here — each person's skin is different. Talcum powder, for example, may work for you, but for some, it can make chafing worse. Go easy on the anti-perspirant, too, because that can make things even sticker.

Staying slick: Using a lubricant, such as hand cream or body butter to keep body parts gliding easily past each other. Because you mentioned that Vaseline hasn't been working for you, you could also try some of the new gel-based products formulated especially for walkers, joggers, and runners. Look for a formula that is non-greasy, non-staining, and dries quickly.

Staying stylish: Wearing proper attire can keep chafing at bay. Stick to snug-fitting clothes that will not move and rub against the skin. Look for tops and bottoms made from materials like polypropylene, polyester, Lycra, and Spandex. Not only will these materials allow the clothes to fit well and stay in place, they are also good at absorbing excess moisture while allowing the skin to breathe. In addition these materials are non-abrasive. If it's the sports bra that seems to be giving you the rub, you can concentrate on protecting the skin in this area by making sure you are wearing one with covered hooks and seams, wide elastic bands, and widely cut armholes that will stay in place as you move.

To help get the chafed skin off your chest properly, you can wash the wound with antiseptic to prevent infection. Place a sterile gauze pad or other covering over it that will allow it to breathe until it heals.

Hope this helps! After all, with the numerous physical and mental challenges of long distance running, the most difficult part should not be getting dressed!


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