Whenever we discuss fitness, wellness, and a healthy lifestyle, the conversation is usually centered around all the great benefits associated with them. But, when it comes to nipples, these subjects are often associated with challenges like chafing, soreness, puffiness, and even painful fissures. Luckily, we’re here to help you navigate nipple health as it relates to fitness, sports, and everyday life.
What Kind of Workouts Affect Nipple Health?
Chafed, sore, and bleeding nipples are often referred to as “runners' nipples” since joggers are most prone to experience these challenges. But any prolonged physical activity that causes friction against one’s shirt or sports bra, combined with moisture and gritty sweat, is a painful recipe. Cyclists, surfers, and those who partake in mud-runs are all at high risk for experiencing these unpleasant symptoms.
But it’s not just physical friction that can cause discomfort. Those who lift weights may experience hormone-based symptoms like sore nipples. Testosterone, cortisol, and other hormones such as insulin-like growth factor activate during weight lifting or other exercises that involve heavy resistance. Additionally, as the intensity of the workout increases, the response level of the hormones will increase as well.
Luckily, if you pay attention to what your nipples are saying and plan ahead, you can easily avoid painful, irritated, and unsightly nipples when it comes to enjoying your fitness routine and favorite sports.
Cover your nips with nipple guards in order to avoid excess friction
Lubricate with our Nipple & Areola Stick to help prevent chafing, and cracking
Investing in smooth, moisture-wicking fabrics to cut down on harsh friction and excess moisture associated with physical activity
Finally, cleanliness is next to carefreeness - be sure to clean up after your workout and avoid sitting around in your sweaty t-shirt or sports bra - yuck!
Nips That Aren’t Painful, Just...Embarrassing
So maybe you’re a lucky one, someone who doesn’t have any of the aforementioned challenges. But, when you workout, your nipples get hard - what?! First of all, erect nipples during a workout are completely normal AND common. Second of all, it doesn’t mean that chest presses or lunges are sexually arousing you. Increased heart rate and blood flow, air-conditioning, and activated hormones all contribute to popping nips during your hip dips. So stop feeling weird about it, because it’s not.
Nipples Can Alert Us to Hormonal Changes
While some hormonal changes are due to physical activity, many come with natural changes in the body.
Gynecomastia, which affects males, causes enlarged breasts and swollen nipples as a result of abnormal hormone metabolism. An imbalance of testosterone and estrogen can cause one or both of the breasts and nipples to become enlarged, and will sometimes include discharge. This painful medical condition often affects newborns, boys in the midst of puberty, and older men. While gynecomastia generally isn’t a serious condition and can be controlled through proper diet and exercise, surgery is sometimes necessary to resolve the pain it causes.
Women experiencing PMS and menopause will often notice sore breasts and itchy nipples due to hormone fluctuations and changes. Similarly, these symptoms can also be a sign of pregnancy or appear at times throughout one’s pregnancy. While not associated with hormone changes, breastfeeding can cause itchy, sore, cracked, and swollen nipples. These symptoms can be a result of common irritations associated with breastfeeding but it’s important to know that they could be signs of more serious infections like thrush or mastitis.
The Bottom Line
While our nipple and areola skin is unique, it still benefits from the same essential health and fitness practices as the rest of our skin. Proper diet, exercise, and skincare routines will help to keep your nipples happy, healthy, and hopefully not too humble because, #freethenipple.