Nipples, Bloody Nipples

4 Comments January 27, 2009 / Posted in Mindful Running, Oz on Injuries

Organization: Int’l Assn of Marathoners

In article <>, Brian Fredrickson
<> wrote:

> Vincent Woolf wrote:
> > First, I should thank the helpful posters here on rec.running. Though I
> > haven’t posted questions before, I’ve found advice here that has helped me
> > fight off the evil shin splints (stretching, better shoes, and no more
> > runnning on concrete if I can help it) and that directed me to useful
> > marathon training information. Thank you.
> >
> > But….with the Motorola Marathon (Austin, TX) less than 2 weeks away I
> > still haven’t found a solution to one problem: What can I do to prevent
> > chafed nipples? I’ve tried various fabrics and tight/loose shirts but
> > have found that the only way I can run for more than an hour without
> > having my nipples rubbed raw is to run without a shirt. Though it’s not
> > a debilitating injury, it’s quite painful.
> >

Pilor Erectia is the words I remember hearing or reading somewhere in my running past. Some may call it goose bumps. When cold, the nipples get erect, like a big goose bump. When people are going from dehydration into heat exhaustion the same thing happens. You’ve probably seen some people after a marathon, shivering uncontrollably. Well maybe not, but I’ve seen it happen in all kinds of weather. It is especially true when the ambient temperature is high 40’s or low 50’s and the skies are clear and sunny…and the humidity is low.

What happens is the marathoner is being toasted by the radiant heat of the sun, but the cold air and the quick evaporation of the sweat keeps the runner feeling good because the core temperature doesn’t rise as quickly because of the rapid evaporation. Then when that person hits mile 16 or 18, the effects of dehydration seem like a lightening bolt out of the blue (Chargers fan).

You will see these people in this kind of weather with the salty sweat lines in their clothing and on their bodies…walking along the last 6 or 8 miles…not quite certain what happened when they were feeling so great just 10 minutes ago.

In that stage of dehydration and bordering on heat exhaustion, the nipples are more erect and more prone to be rubbed, especially if the material is a 50/50 nylon and cotton or a nylor singlet.

The other problem is that depending on your running style, as you tire you may be lifting your shoulders as you breathe in and out. That up and down of the shoulders along with the pilor erectia, the dehydration, the kind of shirt/ singlet you’re wearing all can add up to bloody nipples.

Also if your shoulder to elbow locks as you get tired, the elbows to shoulders doesn’t swing forward and back like counterbalancing pendulums…meaning that you are abraiding your nipples as the shirt scratches across them from side to side.

That is why along the last 6 miles of the San Diego Marathon, the Super Four Support Team is quietly saying to runners and walkers, Relax your Jaw. Relax your shoulders. First the tension is taking valuable energy away from one’s running.

And tied into all of this and compounded by all these little things is the end result of nipples, bloody nipples…and sharp stabbing pains in the area between the shoulders…and endorphins…and not even knowing the nipples are bloody until someone says: “Ouuuu, Deedra, look at those bloody nipples. It almost makes his shirt look like those bloody eyes from Cats. I wonder if it hurts. Oh, number 2045 do you want some Vaseline for your bloody nipples.”

“Huh, wha, what? What bloody nip…? Oh my god, I’m bleeding. I’m bleeding and I didn’t even feel them.” Turning away so as not to be seen by Deedra and her aid station friend Caroline, he slathers vasaline on his nipples with the tongue depressor…nee popcicle stick. Screaming..Ahhhhh..”God, I got a sliver in my bloody nipple.” Caroline crying out, “Ouuuu, let me help you, I have a safety pin to help get the sliver out. Here let me clean it up with a little alcohol.”

“AHHHHHHHHH.” “Deedra, I’ve never seen a marathoner hobble on at such a pace in my life. I feel like we’ve done so much good work to help people today.”

4 Comments... What do you think? Subscribe via RSS
  1. Frederick said on March 4th, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    I simply apply a bit of athletic tape.

  2. Dawn said on June 12th, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Is it only men that have to worry about bloody nipples? Also what does a person do to ensure they don’t mess themselves when running a marathon?

  3. Ozzie Gontang said on July 22nd, 2009 at 6:52 am

    Dawn, One key is to stay hydrated. Some men have experienced their nipples being rubbed raw. Sometime it the shirt. What many runners do who have experienced this is to put bandaides over their nipples to stop any kind of abrasion.

  4. Marathon Runner said on September 4th, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    It happens more often to men than women simply because most women wear athletic bras to support their breasts which in turn provides protection to the nipples.

    For men, their are two simple solutions:

    1. Don’t wear a shirt while running.
    2. Place bandages or stick some form of foam or tape so that the shirt scratches against that surface while nipples underneath remains protected.

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