Try These Remedies and Ways to Prevent Post-Workout Chafing

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Sgt. Jacob Stark, a medic with Michigan National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 126th Infantry Regiment, deployed in support of Task Force Spartan takes a closer look at his toes after earning the Norwegian Foot March Badge at the Joint Training Center in Jordan, Feb. 27, 2021. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Suzanne Ringle, Task Force Spartan Public Affairs)

Chafing and blisters can be a problem during workouts when ill-fitting clothes and moisture mix to rub certain "hot spots" on the body. Typically, these hot spots are on the toes and feet, inner thighs, waistband area, nipples and armpits. Depending on the activity, you can also have chafing or blisters just about anywhere your skin rubs excessively. 

When going through Hell Week, you are so busy that you may not notice the chafing until the five days are completed and the adrenaline stops and the pain sets in all over the body. When you do an after-action check on joint swelling, muscle aches and overall fatigue, you will likely find blood-red chafing usually in sensitive areas. Once you see it, now you feel it over all other aches and pains. 

Whether you are chafed from a long bicycle ride or a challenging special ops selection program where you were moving nonstop and usually wet, you must be proactive in helping yourself heal before these open wounds get infected. 

Here are some important things to do after such events where you find yourself exhausted and chafed: 

1. Keep Your Chafed Areas Clean.

Clean with non-scented soap and water to remove dirt and debris and soak in cold water. Products like Aquaphor and Balmex (often used for diaper rash) can be helpful to ease pain and speed healing of affected areas. 

2. Wear Loose Clothing or Nothing at All to Let Areas Dry. 

Make sure you cover your injuries with aloe vera or Vaseline when you must move again. One way to run, do calisthenics, bike or swim with chafing or blisters is to cover the areas with a generous supply of Vaseline and seal with a waterproof bandage. 

The bandage will keep the hot spot from rubbing against more wet clothing or skin. When the day is done, clean the area again with soap and water and pat dry. Let the air help to dry it out overnight. Repeat with Vaseline in the morning, if needed, for more activity. 

3. Mildly Stretch and Hydrate

Hydrate after exhaustive events to add electrolytes and eat to recover. Light stretching movements will help you avoid severe stiffness, especially if you must continue similar activity day after day as required by some military selections. 

4. Anti-Chafing Creams

There are many topical solutions that will help prevent chafing in clean environments like running or bike riding, but if you are getting wet, sandy and dirty, creams can gather more irritants under your clothing and make matters worse. Many people prevent such chafing and blisters by placing tape on known hot spots or use a brand called Second Skin for prevention. 

If you have developed chafing during sports and activities, you will find the anti-chafing creams to be useful. If you've suffered from military-grade chafing or foot blisters, you likely had to endure an event with significant pain and general aggravation. 

You must baby these wounds and be proactive in getting them clean and healed as soon as possible. Actively pursuing the type of cleaning, care and maintenance of what many may feel is an insignificant injury can be the difference between healing or needing more serious care very soon. 

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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