Who wants bloody nipples and huge blisters on their feet? Everyone has seen that guy (usually a guy) run across the finish line with blood streaming down his shirt from his nipple region. If you have seen him, or been him, then you know that the pain that will ensue for at least the next week is well worth the investment of a product to stop that from happening again.
Ever take a nice warm shower after a half marathon or olympic triathlon only to realize your groin region didn’t get the protection you needed? That raw skin sure feels like a cheese grater is running over it. Stings a little, doesn’t it?
After 1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles of biking and 13.1 miles of running or more, most every triathlete can relate to mild blisters or the monster deep blood blisters that take weeks to recover from.
“Hey, Bob, you’re walking kind of funny.”
“Ya, tough triathlon this week gave me some nasty blisters.”
“You know they make stuff to help you avoid those, right?”
“Ya, I know, but I didn’t think of it until after the race when I had to walk my gear and bike back the half mile to my car making the blisters worse.”
Don’t be Bob.
There are plenty of products and salves made specifically for the running and triathlon community. Each product has its own merit and worth, but when Bag Balm (www.bagbalm.com) dropped some product for review, their story catches your attention.
If it will work to soften cow udders, then surely it would work to protect the crotches, nipples and feet of triathletes. Triathletes only abuse their delicate parts for 10 to 15 hours a week and race day every few weeks, whereas cows get their udders abused every day by milking machines. If it works for cows, will it work for people?
The truth is, Bag Balm has found many applicational homes from cow udders, search dog paws, extreme explorers and now athletes. They advertise medicinal properties to not only protect, but help to promote healing of already chafed areas. Bag Balm was put to the test for triathlon training for 3 weeks. Read the review below to help you decide if bag balm is something for you.
It’s awfully cute.
In the store, triathletes will find Bag Balm in a green tin. When shipped for this review, it came in a nice little box and carefully arranged in packing straw inside. It was like opening a stocking stuffer that your mom lovingly wrapped the night before Christmas.
The fact of the matter is that Bag Balm has come in the green tin for over 100 years. They have remained tried and true to the original form and stayed with what has worked for them. It was a little surprising how small the small tins are. Most triathletes that have gone through some severe blisters and chafing cake on the salve. This little container might not provide a long term solution, but Bag Balm does carry different sizes. So if you need a lot or a little, Bag Balm provides solutions.
It’s not the taste, it’s the texture.
When you peel open the tin of Bag Balm, it's reminiscent of carmex in the round container. It smells somewhat similar and appears to be somewhat the same waxy consistency. But, when you dip a finger in for a gob to apply to the sensitive bits, it’s more forgiving than carmex and more pliable.
Bag Balm texture is similar to axle grease. It’s not as runny, but it can be smeared on as much or as little as desired without much effort. Use two fingers for maximum application, or use one for the detailed spots.
When you apply Bag Balm, you will understand why it will stand up to water and sweat. The sticky and greasy nature will adhere to the skin and takes a decent amount of cleaning to remove immediately after application. Washing hands might take more than reciting your ABC’s to provide adequate soaping time. It might take two rounds of hand washing to remove excess from the fingers and hands.
How does it do under pressure?
Bag Balm was smeared in on feet around the arches and toes for test runs, a problem area for this reviewer. It was also added to the groin region liberally to avoid rubbing and chafing for long runs in the cold where paired with friction and sweat, could be a problem area for raw skin post-run.
After speed work, hill work, half marathon racing and 2+ hour runs ranging from indoor treadmills to outside in slightly above freezing weather, Bag Balm does what it says.
It stacked up to the tried and true products used in the past. Toenails remained intact, blisters in problem areas on the bottom of the feet were not an issue and the groin region was successfully protected. Never has a shower been as uneventful after a long run, which is the way it should be.
But what about cleanup?
As mentioned, Bag Balm is rather greasy and sticky. It does take effort to wash off the hands after application, but after working out, it wasn’t as concentrated and therefore wasn’t an issue to shower off as usual. It did not require an inordinate amount of scrubbing, which would negate the benefit of using it during a workout.
After a 2 hour long run or a 1:37 half marathon, this reviewers delicate parts were right as rain.
What’s this going to cost me?
The 1 oz of Bag Balm runs from $4 to $5. You can get the 10 oz monster portion for $9 to $10. That’s a pretty smart investment when it comes to triathletes and their nether regions.
It’s also competitive with the other standard or more well known brands on the market.
Bag Balm might have an advantage in the healing aspect. This reviewer didn’t have any issues before using Bag Balm, so the healing properties are still untested, but they claim to be able help animals and humans alike. After 100 years on the market and still kicking, we can’t imagine that the claim would be false or misleading.
Bag Balm is trying to build more of a following in the people market, and not just the animal market. Don’t pass over them at the pharmacy or supermarket at the skincare aisle. They are a solid alternative to other skin care products for chafing and blistering due to friction. We would even go as far to say they are for the heavy lifters looking for a long term solution for the long haul, perfect for long course triathletes.
Writer’s note - Bag Balm supplied a 1 oz sample of their product for this review and in no way influenced the review.
Ryan Falkenrath is a married father of two young kids, owner of two dogs and trying to balance life, work and multisport. He writes the blog falkeetriathlon.blogspot.com, Endurance Sports Examiner and runs the Man Vs Triathlon project while participating in multisport events since 2001 from 5k's to Half Ironmans (soon to be Ironman distance in 2013). Contact Ryan at: [email protected] or follow him on @TriJayhawkRyan.