Monday, May 25, 2009

Men's Nipple Protection

If you are offended by talk about men's bloody nipples, LOOK AWAY QUICK.

Too late, you're stuck now. In my seven years of running, and reading runners' magazines and blogs, I don't recall seeing much advice about the problem that men can have with "runner's nipple." We have all probably seen men, after a race, with a streak of red streaming down their shirt from each nipple. That's from the shirt rubbing lightly against the nipple lots of times (maybe 80,000 times or so in a marathon) until the skin is gone. It hurts a little at the time, but it hurts A LOT later in the shower! For several days. Then there are scabs, etc. yada yada. Anyway it's to be avoided except by those who just adore pain.

NipGuards So why doesn't every guy have those tell-tale red streaks? Maybe some guys have really tough nipples. Hmmm. More likely, most have figured out a solution. Some guys run without a shirt, or perhaps there's a favorite shirt (probably not cotton) that does the job, or band-aids, or something else. One runner (good friend) suggested NipGuards, especially made for this purpose.

I admit that I haven't tried NipGuards, because I found that spot bandages work quite well. They don't have an indent for the nipple, as I believe NipGuards have, but that's not a problem. I've tried several brands, and because my old-man skin has been further "tenderized" by dexamethasone, I prefer Curad Sensitive Spots, available from many fine drug stores. They stick well, for a 1-mile race or a marathon. Curad Sensitive Spots Other spots I've tried either stick too strongly or don't last for 26 miles. The Curad Sensitive Spots cost at most $4.00 for a box of 50, or about $0.16 per pair, whereas NipGuards cost about $0.90 per pair. If I run 200 times per year, that's a lot of money.

Three miles is my limit. No nipple problems for a 5k without spots, but maybe for an 8k and certainly for a 10k or longer. This morning Sweet Pea and I went out to a sleepy neighborhood, where it turned out she wanted to run 5k. Because I'm faster, that meant I would run 5 miles (8k), which was farther than I had equipped my nipples to go. I may have gotten away with it though - I'll know when I hit the shower in a few minutes.

This was DEX day, so in theory my muscles should have run out of gas part way through the run, but I didn't sense that happening any more than it would on a normal day. Total time was about 54 minutes, a horrible time for 5 miles, but a mile or so of that was walking with Sweet Pea, and I ran a pace of 9:14 during the portions that I could time. Good enough for a taper run. It's a masterpiece.

Slight cramp in the right calf, just one little muscle in back on the inside, right at the start. I stopped to stretch it once and never heard from it again.


peter said...

Vasoline works too. A little 1 oz. tube of lip balm--pure petroleum jelly--is part of my emergency marathon kit that fits into a fanny pack along with two stretch to fit gloves, a headband for the ears, a twenty, two quarters each wrapped in saran wrap and a tylenol.

Kel said...

Compression clothing as a base layer has solved just about every chafing problem I've ever had.

Think about it - women have nipples too - (sticking waaaaay out there I might add), yet we don't have chafed nipples. We wear sports bras.

I've solved similar experiences with chafing in other areas by wearing compression shorts under my regular shorts and an Under Armour shirt under my Nathan vest (if I'm running with it).

Some of my male trail ultra running buddies have also come to realize that a compression shirt as a base (or only) layer solves a lot of problems. Good luck, because chafing anywhere on the body is miserable!

Anonymous said...

I love running, but I hate sore nipples! I found that creams help after the fact, but I would rather prevent, than treat sore nipples... Anyway, tried the ace bandage (pulls my chest hair) and band aids (even worse!), but I finally came to a solution...

albeit a slightly embarrassing one...

I decided that if women keep their delicate nipples safe by wearing sports bras, then why can't I? So I've since gone out, and bought myself some good sports bras. Surprise, no more sore nipples!

Anyway, my suggestion to guys out there, is think outside the box on this one. Sports bras are very easy to hide, even under t-shirts, and lets face it, they keep your nipples safe and are stylish at the same time!