OK, real talk.
Most of us have been waiting for the summer all year, so we can take advantage of the longer days, warmer weather, and the chance to use the outdoors as our training ground. As temperatures increase, it feels great to get outside for sunny walks or runs in the park, fitness classes, and hikes. But while the summertime seems so footloose and fancy free, it can also have a down side.
With rising temperatures, shorter shorts, and increased sweat, many of us experience inner-thigh chafing. It can be itchy, burning, red, and in extreme cases, can even blister.
Let me be clear: You can experience chafing no matter what size your body is. It can happen to anyone whose thighs touch. And actually, it's not just an inner-thigh issue—in many sporting events I’ve had chafing under my arms and around my bra line. It can strike anywhere when you have the deathly combo of moisture and skin-to-skin friction.
Physical fitness is a challenge on its own, so none of us need additional trials and tribulations flaring up midworkout, especially when it can be avoidable. If you are prepared, chafing doesn’t have to be the uninvited guest at your summer events.
Below, my best prevention tactics and remedies.
1. Use an anti-chafing product that is appropriate for how much you’ll be sweating.
I love Lush for many of its products, but the Silky Underwear is a great tool for preventing summer inner-thigh friction, and also just to reduce crotch sweat. (TMI? Isn’t working out so glamorous?) It’s made of cornstarch and kaolin clay, among a few moisturizing ingredients like shea butter, and is scented with jasmine. While the Silky Underwear product can add some dryness to the thighs and crotch area, it should be used as an anti-chafing product only when sweating and activity is moderate.
For seriously sweaty exercise, 2Toms has literally saved my butt. I have ridden my bike over 200K with 2Toms Sport Shield for Her. It’s a fantastic product, and one I never ride without. There are many anti-chafing products on the market but 2Toms is different than most I’ve used. It’s sweat-proof and non-staining, and it creates an invisible, silky barrier of protection. I also really love that they make this product in both a roll-on and in single-use packs so you can pop them in your cycling jersey or your purse and go.
Deodorant is also a great weapon for anti-chafing, since the product is designed to keep you dry. Just because it’s meant for armpits doesn’t mean we can’t take it down low and combat moisture between the legs. I highly recommend repurposing it for protection from chafing. My favorite is the Secret Invisible Solid in Lavender Clean. It’s nice and dry with a great fragrance.
2. You can also try a homemade remedy to always have an inexpensive option on hand.
I saw a homemade remedy of coconut oil and cornstarch on Pinterest and I thought I would give it a try. It actually works really well and gives just enough glide without feeling too greasy and gross. Some recipes also add lavender oil, but for simplicity you can mix one-and-a-half parts coconut oil with one part cornstarch. Apply before you go, or store it in a small container and keep it in your purse to use when chafing might become an issue. This works best for lower-sweat situations, like a summer day when you’re not necessarily exercising hard but will be outside in the heat.
3. Look for clothes that will give you a layer of fabric between your skin.
Buying longer shorts may seem like an obvious solution, but in many cases when we are shopping we are looking for outfits that suit us from a fashion standpoint and sometimes overlook the functionality of the pieces we choose. The current fashion trends are showing shorter shorts and I’ve found that finding longer shorts can be sort of a challenge. If you see them, scoop them up, because they are a definite way to eliminate chafing. The length and fit that work for you will be different than what works for me, but you can check out my list of 40 great plus-size fitness brands to get started.
4. Invest in undergarments specifically made to combat chafing. Yes, they exist, and they are awesome.
Thigh Society makes great garments specifically for anti-chafing. Like I said, longer shorts are hard to find these days, and if it’s a day you’re wearing a dress or skirt, all bets are off. Thigh Society undergarments come in sizes up to 4X and I love them for three reasons:
- Thigh Society isn’t shapewear. The garments are not meant to control and restrict my body shape, but they have just the right amount of stretch to be comfortable to move around in.
- They are multipurpose and can be worn under dresses for casual wear or under short-shorts for exercise.
- They are very light and breathable so if I do plan to exercise in them, my crotch can breathe and everyone’s happy.
5. Do what you can to avoid poorly placed seams, even if it means ditching a layer of clothing altogether.
Seams in leggings or shorts can often be the biggest culprits of friction and chafing in the thighs. The same goes with certain bras and tops, either in the band (of bras) or in the underarm area. It’s really important if you want to get through a run or outdoor workout comfortably that you take your apparel seriously and look for any functional hazards.
If you are running, avoid prominent seams inside the leg that could rub. For tops, I recommend wearing a shirt that is fitted into the armpit (like a T-shirt) to avoid rubbing in that area. Tank tops can be problematic if your skin rubs while you run, so use some of my suggested remedies above if those type of shirts are your jam.
If you are cycling, I would avoid underwear altogether because added seams and unnecessary material can become your nemesis out on the road; I simply put on some padded cycling shorts or pants, add some 2Toms, and go.
A lot of this will come down to trial and error and preparation, but hopefully some of my tips and tricks will help you rock all your summer workouts in comfort.
Louise Green is a plus-size trainer, founder of the fitness program Body Exchange, and author of Big Fit Girl: Embrace the Body You Have. Follow: Instagram @LouiseGreen_BigFitGirl, Twitter @Bigfitgirl, Facebook @louisegreen.bigfitgirl