Can You Run After Getting a Tattoo

Whether an established athlete or you’ve decided to incorporate running into your new health and wellness regime, you’ve got a lot of miles ahead. But if another part of your plans is to get a tattoo, you are wondering if (or for how long) doing so will keep you from the track. Can you run soon after getting a tattoo? Let’s review.

What You Need to Consider Before Running After Getting a Tattoo

Timing Matters

For smaller tattoos, give yourself at least 2 full days (to go for a run) for your skin to recover after getting tattooed. For medium and larger designs, wait 72 hours. Also listen to your body. If the skin still feels sensitive during casual movements (brushing teeth, walking up stairs, etc.) wait until the discomfort has subsided before heading to the track, path, or seawall.

Placement Matters

Logically, placement makes a big difference. If you get a tattoo on a part of your body that is primarily employed in the act of running then you may need to take one week off. Examples include the foot, thigh, and the area between your upper ribcage and inner bicep. Friction can cause complications for the initial healing process.

Wear Loose-Fitting Running Gear

Most discomfort can be alleviated with loose fitting clothing (or none at all) over the tattooed area. For instance, if you got a new tattoo on the shoulder, wear a tank top within the first week after getting it, or at least choose a shirt with a very loose fit. This will mitigate harmful friction. Tight fitting clothing will also be susceptible to stains from the small amounts of blood that may still expel from the new tattoo. You don’t want to ruin that new Lululemon shirt! Loose fitting running gear also promotes better blood circulation which is conducive to optimal healing.

Low Intensity to Begin With

Ultimately, there’s really nothing wrong with hitting the track the day after getting a tattoo. Just start with a few low intensity jogs for the first week before you attempt to shave split seconds off your 100 or 200-meter. Even if your tattoo appears to be “settling” and healing just fine within the first 72 hours, high-intensity exercise can aggravate it. High-intensity running will have your pores pumping out sweat which will run over your tattoo and carry bacteria along with it.

Post-Run Hygiene

Prior to getting a tattoo you may have concluded your run at a local cafe, and not have showered until later in the day or evening. But if you go running within the first week of getting a tattoo, hit your home or locker room right after to clean your skin exactly as directed by your tattooist. Hygiene is extremely important to healing, so no activity should be concluded without some added aftercare TLC.

Take it Easy on the Stretching (Pre and Post-Run)

Your trainer will not be happy about this recommendation, but if you want to protect your recently applied ink you need to avoid stretching that particular part of your body. Stretching muscles, tendons, and ligaments also stretches the skin that covers them. If you stretch the skin where your tattoo was just applied, you may elongate the ink particles which can absolutely alter healing and the appearance of the tattoo design. For small tattoos, avoid stretching the entire area of your fresh tattoo for at least one-week prior to running. For medium to large tattoos, wait two weeks. If unsure about whether or not a warm-up and cool-down movement will impact the skin, stretch the opposing side of your body (opposite side of where your tattoo is) to see how the skin responds. If it does expand your skin, leave the tattooed side alone. In addition, pop back into the studio and have your tattooist check the healing process and ask what they think.

Ready to get inked? Schedule a consultation and run on over to our downtown Vancouver tattoo studio today.

Written By:

Sleight of Hand

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