camila ramon chafing tips

How To Prevent Chafing Without Sacrificing Your Stride (or Your Shorts)

Camila Ramon explains how she keeps chafing from holding her back during workouts.

By Michele RossAugust 21, 2023


Whether you’re taking your favorite cycling class, jogging on a treadmill, or running in the great outdoors, feeling the burn can be a gratifying experience indicating that your hard work is paying off. But burn can take on an entirely different meaning if you’re prone to chafing. “Chafing is not my friend, but I’ve learned to deal with it,” says Peloton instructor Camila Ramon

If you experience chafing while working out—or even by simply wearing shorts without working out, for that matter—you’ll want to keep reading. Ahead, Camila shares her top tips to prevent chafing so you can move and groove free from soreness and stinging.

What Is Chafing?

Chafing occurs when your skin rubs against clothing or another body part, creating friction and irritation. Ongoing friction leads to chafing—such as when your thighs rub against each other while running, or as you bend over while cycling and the seams on your waistband are in constant motion.

Although it can get uncomfortable, chafing is typically mild. Standard signs of chafing include:

  • Redness

  • Itchiness

  • Bumps

  • Warmth or burning

  • Tenderness

  • Stinging

  • Dry or flaking skin

Moisture (typically from sweat) and ensuing bacterial buildup can also make chafing worse.

Intense chafing from constant long-term movement—such as while running a marathon—can be more severe, potentially resulting in muscle pain, broken skin, bleeding, and blisters. These open skin wounds have the potential to create a skin infection, which is why you’ll want to heed Camila’s forthcoming tips.

Spoiler alert: “Slideage” (i.e., the opposite of friction) is the name of the chafing prevention game.

Where Does Chafing Occur? 

Chafing can occur wherever your skin rubs against another body part or clothing. “I frequently chafe between my thighs and my armpits, but there are other places where people frequently chafe as well,” says Camila.

Inner Thigh Chafing

Chafing in between the thighs is common for a few reasons. It most often occurs when you’re wearing shorts, as they naturally allow for your thighs to rub against each other without the protection of fabric to prevent chafing. This can happen while merely sitting down, standing, or walking.

However, the potential for chafing becomes more likely and intense by wearing shorts while exercising. This rings especially true for activities like running since:

  • Your inner thighs may rub against each other without an adequate protective barrier

  • Loose shorts can create chafing if they move with your strides

But it’s not just shorts-lovers that deal with inner thigh chafing—Camila says that chafing can occur while wearing leggings as well. Most often, you’ll experience any chafing around the seam of your legging since it’s bulkier and likely to create friction upon moving. (Shoutout to seamless leggings!)

Armpit Chafing

Chafing beneath the armpits is also common for similar reasons as shared above. For instance, when you’re moving your arms while running, the skin on either side of your armpit folds rub against each other to generate friction.

Of course, most people generate heat and sweat beneath the armpits as well—with friction and moisture creating a (pardon the pun) ripe opportunity to chafe.

Nipple Chafing

Nipple chafing is absolutely a thing, most seasoned runners will tell you. It has the potential to occur in men who wear loose shirts while running, or in women without adequate support to keep their chests protected. Chafing under the breasts and at the seam of the bra line may also occur on account of skin folds, plus the buildup of sweat and moisture.

“Believe it or not, [nipple chafing] can get very severe,” Camila says. As we’ll soon see, it doesn’t have to be a problem if you’re armed with the right info, clothing, and products.

Foot Chafing

Even if you don’t engage in intense physical activity, there’s a decent chance that you’ve experienced foot chafing at some point in your life. (If you’ve ever gotten a blister on your foot or ankle, that’s a telltale sign.)

It can take place from an extended walk—perhaps even during your daily commute or while sightseeing on vacation—and especially if your shoes aren’t a perfect fit, whether they’re a bit tight or too loose. In fact, even 10 minutes of treadmill walking has been shown to increase foot volume on account of swelling, which can make your shoes feel even tighter and thus lead to more friction and blisters.

How to Prevent Chafing

Camila says that she’s experienced chafing from a young age. Fortunately, she finally discovered the right strategies to minimize discomfort and prevent chafing from ruining her workouts.

Chafing “absolutely will not stop you from achieving your physical dreams and goals,” she shares. “And it definitely doesn’t need to stop you from wearing the damn shorts.” Follow Camila’s breaks best anti-chafing tips to feel good during every workout.

Create Slideage

This is the basic principle to avoid chafing from happening to begin with—or at least to minimize excess irritation from skin-to-skin or skin-to-clothing rubbing. When you create slideage, “you prevent friction and therefore prevent chafing,” Camila explains. “I need to create some sort of protection for myself so my body isn’t preventing me from moving forward.”

Invest in Chafing Sticks

Ramon is certainly not the only person to experience chafing. These days, there are several products specifically designed to create slideage.

“Chafing sticks are made for this purpose. You rub them in between your thighs, between your armpits… you can even rub them on your nipples or on your feet where you blister,” she explains. “These will help you tremendously.”

Use Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly is an affordable alternative to chafing sticks. “We’re all about saving money, so petroleum jelly works perfectly well and is probably around half the price,” Camila explains. In fact, you may already have this common medicine cabinet item at home.

“Essentially, wherever you are chafing, you put this on your body and it’ll create slideage. The more slideage and the less friction [equals] chafing prevention,” she reminds us.

Dress for Success

“Your clothes aren’t here to sabotage you; they’re here to support you,” Camila affirms. There are certain FYIs you’ll want to be aware of—and hacks you’ll want to employ—to make sure your clothes help you in your quest to prevent chafing.

“You need to know what kind of shorts you want to wear,” Camila explains. “You need to think about what area of your body is creating friction with the other one and you cover that area to prevent that.” For instance, some running shorts can be too short and thus encourage chafing.

However, looser shorts can also facilitate the issue by constantly moving across the surface of your skin. “It might feel breezy during the first few miles,” says Camila, but in due time you’re likely to see that they’re not ideal for long-distance running and intense training in particular. “Whatever shorts you have in your drawer are probably going to be okay for the first to fifth mile. Once you start getting to the … 13th mile, literally your hair chafes you and you’re on fire.” Again, this isn’t the type of burn we’re aiming for. “Remember: The more movement a fabric has, [the more it will] just create more friction as it starts to get wet and sags on your body,” she reiterates.

These points considered, it’s probably in your best interest to replace your short or loose shorts with longer biking shorts if you’re prone to chafing. At the same time, she advises keeping fabric in mind when choosing your gear. “Everyone’s different,” she notes. “I sometimes prefer more cotton-based fabrics when I'm wearing my shorts, but some people prefer more sweat-wicking and athletic fabrics when running or exercising.”

Beyond shorts, Camila recommends paying attention to seams when shopping for activewear. “Seams typically tend to create a little bit of tension or additional friction. Keep that in mind especially when it comes to the waist, and especially when you’re doing sports when you’re creating another crevice, like cycling,” she shares. “When you’re bending over, that creates additional tension in your midsection.”

Because of this, she notes that many cyclists actually wear shorts with suspenders to avoid pressure along the waistline—which could be a good investment if chafing routinely ruins your cycling flow and stands in the way of achieving your best record yet.

“You want a supportive and non-restrictive waistband. The seams need to be right and not intrusive,” Camila summarizes.

How to Heal Chafing

“I want to encourage you to wear the shorts,” emphasizes Camila. “I don't want your past experiences to dictate how it is that you feel about a certain kind of gear when you’re training.”

However, should chafing still occur, you can help heal and soothe the broken skin by using your handy petroleum jelly—as well as baby powder—on clean skin to create a protective barrier until your skin recovers. Soothing aloe vera gel can also do the trick.

In addition, do your best to:

  • Wear clothes that are clean and dry

  • Practice good hygiene

  • Try to avoid the activities that cause chafing until your skin heals

Slideage from slippery products and wearing the right gear—yes, even including the right shorts—can help put your worst chafing days behind you. “I hope you feel empowered to take control of your chafing journey and of your body,” Ramon concludes. “Find your appropriate beautiful shorts and then find me on the bike or the tread!”


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