How to keep your legs from chafing while running


Chafing can be an uncomfortable problem for runners, especially when running in hot and humid weather or on long distance runs. Chafing happens when skin rubs against skin or against clothing causing a rash-like irritation. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent chafing while running, and some of the simplest solutions are often the most effective in providing relief.

This guide will explain the basics of how to keep your legs from chafing while running, what causes it and how it can be avoided. It will cover tips for reducing friction on your legs such as:

  • Choosing the right fabrics for clothing worn during a run;
  • What products might help to reduce irritation;
  • Ways to manage sweat build up through proper hydration and temperature control.

With this information, all you need is some preparation and creativity to avoid chafing during your next run.

Causes of Chafing

Chafing is an uncomfortable and sometimes painful condition that can occur while running. It is caused when your skin is exposed to friction and irritation. Common causes of chafing include humidity, sweat, clothing that is too tight, and improper footwear. It is important to understand the common causes of chafing in order to prevent it from happening.

In this article, we will discuss the common causes of chafing and how to prevent it:


Sweat is one of the most common causes of chafing while running. As sweat accumulates, it can mix with fabric fibres on clothing and create friction between skin and clothing. This causes a kind of burning sensation or pain that leads to redness, swelling and ultimately blisters at the area near the groin, inner thighs and armpits.

To avoid chafing due to sweat, runners should choose clothes that are light and breathable, preferably made from moisture-wicking fabrics like polyester or merino wool. Applying powdery substances to reduce friction may also help prevent chafing.

Tight Clothing

Tight clothing can be a major contributor to chafing during running and other physical activities. This is because ill-fitting garments can rub and irritate the skin, resulting in redness, heat, and increased dryness. Layers of clothing can also add extra friction to the skin. Common causes of tight clothing related to chafing include:

  • Tight jeans or shorts: Jeans, shorts, leggings, tights and other bottoms that are too tight around the waist or legs can cause friction during movement. When buying running apparel, you may want to look for loose styles that are specifically designed for your sport.
  • Compression garments: Compression gear such as shorts, leggings and tops can offer great benefits while running – but only when they fit correctly! A garment that is either too tight or too loose on your body can rub against the skin repeatedly while you’re in motion. Aim for a snug fit that doesn’t bunch or slide up when you move; this will help keep any friction from occurring.
  • Clothing material: Clothing made from some synthetic fabrics like polyester helps wick sweat away from the skin which is great for preventing rash – but if it’s too tight against your skin it could cause chafing regardless. Look for apparel made of breathable materials such as merino wool and cotton blends; this will help keep your body cool while providing necessary stretch without reducing comfort levels or increasing friction on the skin.


Rubbing causes friction, which can lead to chafing issues in runners. This can be caused by tight-fitting clothing allowing skin and fabric to rub together, as well as body parts that rub together when jogging or running. Friction between the straps of a backpack may also cause an individual to experience “backpack chafe”, which generally manifests itself in redness. At other times, simply perspiring while running can cause enough moisture on the skin that more immediate chafing occurs.

Seeking out apparel materials designed specifically for sports use and made from synthetic fibers is crucial when trying to avoid chafing due to fabric-to-skin contact. If this isn’t possible, look for loose-fitting clothing that won’t be tight against the skin or items with smooth seams and hems that won’t irritate your skin as you move around. For backpack straps, a thin neoprene sleeve is beneficial because it acts like a buffer between your body and the strap of your bag or rucksack. Additionally, athletes should make sure to wear clothing made from sweat-wicking material in order to minimize any moisture sitting on the surface of their skin while they exercise.


When it comes to preventing chafing, the key is to take steps to reduce friction between your skin and your clothing. Taking care to choose the right running gear is the best way to prevent chafing. From ultra-lightweight fabrics to anti-wicking materials, there are a few options to consider when looking for the right running clothes.

Additionally, there are some simple solutions you can use at home, such as using a moisturizer, taking a bath, and cleaning your skin after the run. Let’s explore these solutions in more detail:

  • Using a moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated.
  • Taking a bath to soothe your skin after a run.
  • Cleaning your skin after the run to remove sweat and dirt.

Wear loose-fitting clothing

Loose-fitting clothing is key when it comes to preventing chafing from running. Not only does tight clothing restrict your full range of motion, which can negatively impact performance, but it can cause material to rub directly against your skin and worsen the effects of friction. Look for fabrics that have a bit of “give”— lycra/spandex blend leggings and joggers, for instance— as well as lightweight cotton pieces. No matter the fabric, always choose a size that allows plenty of room to move around freely.

Also consider switching out your typical running shorts for something less constrictive. This might mean something along the lines of a running skirt or loose trackster pants in order to alleviate some pressure while still keeping you cool. Whatever type of bottoms you choose, make sure they are not rubbing or bunching in areas with high movement like around your inner thighs or underarm area.

Finally, look into incorporating more layering options into your wardrobe during colder months as well as sun protection during hotter seasons; wearing an extra long-sleeved top over a pair of loose fitting leggings is an effective way to avoid chafing year-round without having any direct material contacting the skin where it’s prone to rub against itself with each passing step.

Apply lubricant

Lubricants are a sure-fire way to prevent or reduce chafing. Many products are designed specifically for this purpose. Petroleum jelly, body glide, and other powdered or aerosol lubricants can be used before and during runs to reduce chafing. If you’re worried about staining your clothes, opt for clear forms of the product such as powder to minimize that risk.

Lubricant should be applied directly on skin in the areas where friction is more likely to occur such as the inner thigh, underarms and nipple area (for men). Make sure you let the lube set in properly so it creates a barrier between skin and clothing before heading out on your run. Reapply during long runs as needed after extended periods of time or when one begins to sweat more.

Use anti-chafing products

Protecting your skin when engaging in vigorous physical activity is a must. One of the most common ways to protect your skin while running is to use an anti-chafing product. Chafing, or skin irritation that occurs due to rubbing, can be extremely uncomfortable and cause damage to your skin. Anti-chafing products are available in many different forms and are made to protect your skin and prevent chafing while running.

Before going out for a run, you should apply an anti-chafing product like a balm, powder or lotion. This will create a barrier between areas that tend to rub together like the inner thighs and buttocks which can help reduce friction during intense physical activities. We suggest investing in moisture-wicking apparel as this material helps lessen the amount of sweat on the body and prevents fabric from sticking which can lead to chafing. Also wearing loose fitting clothing that does not constrict movement is another way to prevent your clothes from catching onto sensitive areas causes chafing like undersides of arms or legs. You could also consider applying Vaseline on highly sensitive areas as this helps alleviate discomfort caused by too much friction from clothing during movement or heat induced sweat.

To maximize comfort while running long distances, make sure you regularly apply any chamois cream, balm or similar product throughout the duration of your run if needed; always remember how important proper hygienic measures are when it comes preventing recurrence of chafed areas.


Chafing can be painful and uncomfortable, but thankfully, there are several treatments that can help reduce the occurrence of chafing while running.

The most effective way to treat chafing is to use a lubricating cream or gel to protect the skin against abrasion or friction. It is important to apply the cream or gel before running to create a barrier between your skin and clothing.

In addition, there are several other treatments that can help reduce the occurrence of chafing while running:

  • Wear moisture-wicking clothing.
  • Use talcum powder to reduce friction.
  • Choose the right size of clothing.
  • Apply petroleum jelly to the affected area.
  • Opt for synthetic fabrics.

Clean the affected area

It is important to keep the area clean when trying to prevent chafing. Before you begin running make sure you wash the affected area with a mild soap and warm water. Make sure that the skin is completely dry before you begin running, any sweat or moisture can lead to more rubbing while running.

If possible, use an antiseptic cleanser prior to starting your run as this will help kill bacteria and reduce your risk of infection if the skin does happen to break open from being rubbed too much. It is best practice to avoid using harsh products on tender skin, rather opt for gentle soaps and creams that are designed for sensitive skin.

Apply a cold compress

When you experience chafing from running, applying a cold compress can help ease the irritation. Immediately after noticing the chafed area, consider contacting your doctor for specific instructions on how to treat it. It may help to wrap an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables with a clean cloth to prevent contact with the skin and hold it over the area until it feels better. An aloe vera gel or lubricant can also be applied after cooling down, as it helps provide relief and cushioning.

Additionally, you can use over-the-counter antiseptics and antibacterial ointments on open chafing blisters in order to reduce scarring and infection. However, do not apply any of these products without consulting your doctor first as they all have different effects depending on individual cases.

Taking these simple steps can help keep your legs from extreme chafing while running or doing other activities such as hiking or biking.

Apply a moisturizer

One of the best ways to help avoid chafed legs while running is to apply a moisturizer beforehand. Applying a high-quality moisturizer that contains skin-nourishing ingredients such as almond oil, shea butter, and Vitamin E can help your skin stay hydrated and prevent it from drying out. If you’re prone to getting chafed legs while running, pay special attention to areas of your body that are more susceptible, such as the backs of your knees, ribs, and inner thighs.

Another helpful way to keep chafing at bay is to use sweat-wicking materials when running or exercising. Certain fabrics are designed with a breathable material that helps wick away sweat from the skin. Opt for clothing made out of moisture-wicking fabrics like nylon or merino wool for increased comfort and decreased chances of developing chafed skin.

Finally, consider investing in a dedicated pair of running shorts for long distance runs or race days. Running shorts come with built-in liners that provide extra comfort from friction caused by excess moisture. These liners also provide additional protection against possible irritation from tight formfitting spandex or lycra shorts which can be common culprits behind chafed skin during exercises such as marathons and triathlons.


Keeping your legs from chafing while running requires a combination of proper fitting clothing, moisture-wicking fabric and lubrication. Make sure you wear the right type of clothing and the right size to avoid direct rubbing against skin. Sweat or running water can further enhance friction and lead to unwanted skin irritation, so choose moisture-wicking performance fabrics to keep you dryer longer.

Finally, reduce the chances of abrasion with an appropriate lubricant like vaseline, body glide or a “chafe-preventing” cream to help prevent chafing and provide additional comfort during long runs.

With the correct techniques, you can enjoy your run without worry!