In the United States Army, it wasn’t an uncommon site to see bloodstains on the shirts of the larger men after a longer run. The PT shirts were seemingly made from steel wool, and became heavy when soaked in sweat. Despite muted suggestions of Band-aids, Vaseline, or compression shirts, most of the afflicted suffered in silence and simply did not know the best way to avoid this painful dilemma.
What Causes Nipple Chafing
Nipple chafing is caused by the friction of small, repeated movements of wet fabric (your shirt) over the apex of your chest (your useless, protruding man-nipples). It affects larger men because, simply put, their chest sticks out and moves around more. It doesn’t matter if you’re overweight or if you can bench press a Buick; It only matters that your shirt rests on your nipples. When that fabric gets wet with sweat or rain, it gets much heavier and that friction increases. If you have a lot of fat or relaxed muscle tissue in your chest, it bounces around. These factors can combine to create a very painful running experience.
The three most common solutions for nipple chafing are:
- Compression clothing
I will briefly touch on each one and then recommend what I consider to be the gold standard of the three.
It’s very likely you are already using lubricants in some fashion, whether it is Body Gliding your man parts or Sport Shielding your jiggly bits. The limiting factor of all lubricants is duration of effectiveness. If I am running fewer than 5-6 miles, then Body Glide or 2Toms Sport Shield on my nipples will often work just fine (I would only use Vaseline in a pinch for an emergency). But for a half marathon on up? I will in the very least be in pain once I hop in the shower at home.
Between these two choices I tend to lean towards the Sport Shield- I find it offers slightly better protection and for more time.
Compression shirts are typically very thin and light, and made of synthetic materials like polyester and/or spandex. They are tighter and reduce elastic tissue movement ( again, think jiggly bits). They greatly reduce the friction between the shirt and the nipple. However, there still is some friction and though it will take longer, nipple damage can still occur. These shirts are also fine for short distances, but for the long haul you need tape.
Tape- The Gold Standard
The market for pre-made nipple circles for running protection has certainly grown over the years, which according to skinny marketing majors can be used to prevent “Joggers Nip”. I highly recommended avoiding any such products and stick with what I use myself, 3M NexCare Waterproof Tape.
This tape is soft and spongy, can be easily torn with your hands, provides complete protection, and a roll will last you a very long time. You really only need the smallest amount possible (I typically use pieces roughly the size of half the pad of my thumb), and the benefit to having a roll over pre-cut circles is that you can control the size you need. This is very important for men with gorilla-like chest hair. You can avoid a lot of hair ripping by using the smallest amount possible. Though you may still consider trimming the area if adhesion becomes a problem.
Try the 3M NexCare Waterproof tape and let me know how it works for you! Or if you have other suggestions, I would love to hear them below. Thanks!