Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Infamous Abmat Ass-Crack Rash

So you’re new to CrossFit, and for the first time, you encounter a WOD that demands an unholy number of Abmat sit-ups -- like this one or this one or this one.

You’re excited about trying this out, so you gamely throw an Abmat on the floor and get crankin’. By the tail end of the workout, you’re exhausted and marinating in your own sweaty juices. With every sit-up, you’re violently jerking upright and spraying everyone around you with a fine mist of salty liquid. (They’re totally grossed out, but continue cheering you on anyway.)

But then you finish, and you PR’ed. Good work! You feel awesome. You ARE awesome. “My abs are gonna be sore tomorrow,” you think to yourself, “but I’m gettin’ purdy good at this CrossFit stuff.”

A half-hour later, you pop into the shower. And that’s when you notice the stinging sensation. You reach back and gingerly probe where it burns. Your eyes widen.


Okay, so it’s technically not in your ass-crack; it’s actually well north of your butthole proper. After grabbing a mirror, you see that the rash is by your tailbone, where your plumber’s smile ends -- or begins, depending on the direction you wipe. (Always front-to-back, people. Always.) You might have one big patch of red, irritated skin, or maybe it’s a couple of areas on both sides of your cheeks. Perhaps some skin has rubbed off, and you’re bleeding. Yes, that’s right: Your rear end is oozing blood.

The rash is sensitive to the touch. Water stings. The simple act of sitting or walking makes you wince. You momentarily consider “borrowing” your wife’s sanitary pads to line the rear of your tidy-whities. You're terrified you'll become another Ass Napkin Ed. Finally, you break open a first aid kit and ponder the logistics of slathering your crack with Boudreaux’s Butt Paste and sealing up the entire area with Band-Aids and masking tape.

While you stand there, pantsless but unsexy, wondering how long it’ll take your rash to heal (answer: about a week, assuming you keep the area clean and infection-free), it dawns on you:

The Abmat did this to your sweet, innocent bum.

Damn you, Abmat. DAMN YOU TO HELL.

And the worst part? You can’t brag about this injury. It’s not a “cool” injury like the time you face-planted while mountain biking down Mount Tam and needed stitches, or the time you fell and broke your arm while rock climbing. It’s not even a stupid-but-mildly-amusing injury like the time you were doing bench presses and your spotter’s sweat dripped into your mouth, causing you to gag and drop the loaded barbell on your chest.

No matter how many CrossFitters get ass-crack rashes, you won’t hear much about ‘em. People at your CrossFit gym will regale you with stories about cutting their foreheads with barbells while doing snatches, or ripping up their calloused hands with high-rep pull-ups, but bloody rashes located inches from their poop chutes? Like Lord Voldemort, these are boo-boos That-Must-Not-Be-Named. No one, it seems, wants to volunteer information about what's happening between their butt cheeks.

Well, except for me. And some folks who have emailed me about their sit-up-induced carpet burns. And these people over here. And the guy at my gym who approached our coach before yesterday’s Abmat-intensive WOD and said: “What can I do to avoid getting another scab in my ass crack?”

So what's the answer? How can you avoid getting a burning sensation where the sun don’t shine?

The solution is not to stop doing Abmat sit-ups. They’re awesome, and so much better than the plain vanilla version. (Why, you ask? Read this.) Besides, how sad would it be to let a little butt skin derail your exercise routine?

Some people say you should pull on some compression shorts to reduce or eliminate the ass-grinding friction. That probably works fine, but I have a simpler solution: Do your sit-ups on a thin, padded exercise mat. If your yoga mat's too thin, just fold it over once and put your Abmat on top, so that your tailbone is on the mat and not on the floor of your garage or gym.

I got a nasty rash the very first time I experienced a sit-up-intensive WOD. (Yes, after months of internal debate, I am finally ready to publicly concede that I do, in fact, have a butt crack.) But with a mat under my bottom, my ass-crack has been fine and dandy ever since. It's really quite spiffy. I'd post a photo, but I'd hate for you to vomit all over your keyboard.