Is it important to wear nipple tape when running a marathon? This really depends on the runner, some runners have never experienced, and probably never will experience nipple rub or bleeding nipples. Other runners are plagued by painful nipples when they run.
There are several factors that can cause nipple rub and so it’s worth trying to address the root of the problem before you look for a solution. First consider these factors before simply reaching for nipple protection:
- Do you have a proper technical running top? – If you run with a cotton t-shirt then you are asking for nipple rub, look for a new specific technical running top, proper running tops have the fibres chosen for friction reduction. Also if your top is too loose or too tight, this can cause friction.
- Do you have sensitive skin? – If you have sensitive skin then think carefully about your choice of washing powder (non-bio or eco-friendly may help), also experiment with and without fabric softener (whilst it reduces friction, it can actually cause irritation in some people).
- Are you a salty sweater? – Some runners will sweat out more salt than others and while it’s no consolation, if you’re a salty sweater, then you’ll be more prone to nipple rub. You can tell how salty your sweat is based on: the taste of your sweat, if it stings your eyes and if it leaves prominent white residue on dried sweaty clothes.
If you have thought about and addressed all these points and you still have problems with chafing of your nipples then let’s talk about nipple tape.
Why nipple taping is not so good
Many runners swear by nipple taping (i.e. sticking zinc tape or plasters over your nipples); however there are some downsides and many people aren’t aware that there is a specific product out there designed to do a proper job. Taping the nipples will indeed offer some protection from friction, but there are three main downsides:
- Plasters and tape sticks to the skin around the nipple which means it can fall off and get loose when you sweat (there are a lot more sweat glands in the skin outside the nipple).
- The nipple is still in indirect contact with the point of friction.
- Sensitive hairs grow around the nipple for most guys and some women, so removing plasters or tape that hasn’t come loose is a bit like waxing…not for the faint hearted!
So what’s the solution?
Time and time again we recommend nipguards, they are a specific product designed for this purpose and this purpose alone; therefore they are very good at it. They have a unique patented design, that allows for the nipple to be encapsulated and therefore doesn’t make contact with your running top (even indirectly). They also have a medical grade adhesive that only sticks to the nipple areola, which won’t fall off and is much less likely to stick to those sensitive hairs! Yes they are a tad more expensive than plasters or tape, but when your marathon attempt is on the line are you going to let a couple of quid get in the way of a successful marathon?
Do you have any experiences or advice on this subject? If so leave a reply below and help your fellow runners.
Here is the next blog article in our marathon series: