Does Hair Removal Improve Running Performance?
A runner has a long checklist for ensuring optimum performance. Think nutrition, hydration, recovery, the right apparel, and footwear. But does grooming play a role, too? Irrespective of gender, everyone has the right to make informed decisions on whether they want to shave or not. Most professional athletes have their body hair removed as they believe it benefits their performance. It’s a fact that practicing hair removal gives you an edge, and helps keep your skin comfortable and happy during your runs.
Benefits of hair removal before a run
Should we be shaving before every run? Generally speaking, yes — simply because it decreases the chances of skin irritation.
Runners wear clothing such as compression shorts or sleeves, which stick to the skin. With smoother skin, it is easier to slip into performance clothing without having an extra layer between the skin and the fabric that can cause discomfort.
There are a few other benefits as well.
1. It prevents ingrown hairs and chafing. Friction is your worst enemy and a smooth skin gives an aerodynamic advantage. Some studies have shown that athletes can take seconds off their race timings simply by shaving or removing hair.
2. In case of injuries, it is easier to access wounds and keep them clean on hairless skin. Using bandages or compression socks is easier, too.
3. Your body will cool down quickly as body heat won’t be trapped under additional hair. Shaved areas can emphasize muscle definition as well.
4. Lotions or oil can be easily applied on hairless skin if you plan on getting a massage.
Best methods of hair removal for runners
The first rule of thumb is to practice your shaving methods and determine what works the best for you.
1. Areas of shaving focus may be underarms, bikini line, legs, chest hair, or arms
2. Shaving options include standard shaving and trimming, waxing, depilation, or laser treatments
3. Shaving, trimming and waxing might be done at home, which might be more convenient
4. Depilation or laser treatments are more intensive and may require planning for desired results
Know your razor
Believe it or not, if you go a day or two without shaving, those pesky hairs can cause chafing and rubbing during a run, and considerable discomfort. How can you avoid these? Let’s start with a look at the razors you can use.
Men and women tend to shave different areas of the body. Thus, razors are developed differently for the sexes. For men, razors are developed primarily for facial hair, and women’s razors are developed for shaving larger areas of the body, for example, leg hair. It is always advantageous to purchase razors that fit the job you need to accomplish.
Replace razor blades often. Dull razor blades can actually cause more harm than good and end up pulling your skin, causing nicks and skin irritation. Your blades should be clean and make your skin feel smooth while shaving and not cause any additional irritation along the way.
Word of caution
You should always take some precautions while shaving.
1. Even if you have been shaving for years, start slow and take your time. Never shave when you are in a hurry — you will only end up with a nick or two.
2. Never shave on dry skin with a dry razor. This can lead to irritation and increase the chances of cuts. Warming your skin in the shower for at least 10 minutes gives your skin time to soften. Also, exfoliation with loofahs or scrub before shaving provides a smoother surface.
3. Use shaving cream or body oil instead of soap and water.
A hair removing routine can well be a part of your athletic regime. Apply these hairy truths to see the difference.
1. Want a Smooth, Safe Shave Every Time? Try These Tips. Cleveland Clinic. 2020; published online Dec 24. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/want-a-smooth-safe-shave-every-time-try-these-10-tips/ (accessed Feb 19, 2021).