Greetings, dear readers. Grab a cup of joe, settle into your favorite reading nook, and let’s dive into the fusion of two passions that may seem, at first glance, rather incompatible: the pursuit of body art and the commitment to physical fitness.
It reminds me of an encounter with this powerhouse of a woman, Jane. A regular at the local CrossFit box, Jane strutted into my parlor one day, craving to etch the symbol of her strength onto her skin – a fierce lioness. She had one pertinent query, “Can I hit the WOD tomorrow after getting inked?” The look of surprise on her face when I suggested some ‘rest days’ was priceless.
The worlds of tattoos and exercising aren’t two ships passing in the night, my friends. They can sail together, with a bit of navigational expertise. For those vibrant souls, like Jane, looking to balance their love for endorphin surges and personal expression through ink, here’s a tidbit: it is generally advised to hit pause on the high-intensity workouts for a solid 48-72 hours post-tattoo.
Tom, a fellow tattoo enthusiast and marathoner, learned this the hard way. He hit the pavement the day after getting his marathon tribute tattoo, a simple yet striking “26.2”. The result? An irritated piece of body art and an impromptu lesson in tattoo aftercare.
After this initial rest period, ease back into your routine, preferably with low-impact exercises. Think yoga or leisurely walks in the park. As tempting as it is to sprint back to your usual workout schedule, bear in mind, a freshly inked tattoo is akin to an open wound. It usually takes a full two to three weeks to heal completely.
This subject sparks myriad conversations in tattoo parlors and gyms alike, each fueled by personal anecdotes and professional advice. In this piece, we’ll explore the wisdom of the tattoo community, discussing some golden rules for nurturing your new tattoo while maintaining your fitness regimen. So read on, and discover how to harmonize your dual love for ink and endorphins.
Training After Getting a Tattoo: Important to Know
Before we delve into the nitty-gritty, let’s explore five compelling reasons to hit the pause button on your workout after getting a tattoo:
Risk of Infection – Sweat can become an unwelcome tenant in your fresh tattoo, potentially sparking an itching frenzy and an unwelcome infection. Picture Sam, a die-hard gym-goer, who had to grapple with an itchy tattoo after an untimely gym session post-inking.
Irritation – Your healing time might extend, and your tattoo site may turn incredibly irritated, similar to what Clara, a yoga enthusiast, experienced after a strenuous session of Ashtanga yoga post her wrist tattoo.
Fading Colors – One significant fallout of early exercising could be your tattoo colors beginning to fade. Despite the steadfast nature of tattoo inks, the early healing stages can make the top skin layer vulnerable, leading to potential ink loss if it remains wet for an extended period. So, while you should keep the tattoo moist, beware of excessive sweat. Once fully healed, you can bid farewell to fears of bleeding ink.
Excessive Bleeding – Training can escalate your blood pressure, leading to excess bleeding from your tattoo, a lesson my friend and amateur boxer, Roberto, learned the hard way.
Compromised Performance – Your focus might be hijacked by your fresh tattoo instead of your workout, potentially disrupting your mental and physical prowess, just as Mia found when she attempted a mountain climbing workout with a fresh tattoo on her calf.
Now, onto the post-tattoo training regimen. The golden rule is to rest for a full 48 hours after getting a tattoo. Depending on the tattoo’s location, some light training may be possible after this period. However, if you wish to guarantee a flawless healing process, waiting a minimum of two weeks is highly recommended.
In the spirit of addressing those adrenaline junkies who simply can’t hit pause, let’s outline a few best practices:
Ease into your workouts – If you can’t resist exercising, keep it low-intensity while your tattoo heals. Once it’s completely healed, feel free to power up to your regular workout routine.
Avoid swimming and watersports for a minimum of 4 weeks – Oceans, pools, even your bathtub house abundant bacteria, which can play havoc with your fresh tattoo.
Shield from direct sunlight – Sunlight isn’t your fresh tattoo’s friend, so keep it shaded.
Choose loose clothing – Opt for clothes that won’t rub against your new tattoo.
Disinfect gym equipment – Minimize infection risk by ensuring the equipment you use is clean.
Keep your tattoo clean before and after workouts – Your tattoo’s cleanliness is non-negotiable, before and after your workouts.
Avoid locker rooms – A breeding ground for bacteria, locker rooms can threaten your tattoo’s healing process.
For the runners in our audience, consider taking at least a week’s break before resuming your pavement pounding. Regardless of your tattoo’s placement, the whole-body movement inherent to running can influence it.
Start with clean hands – always. Use lukewarm water and a mild, fragrance-free soap (Dove is a crowd favorite) to gently cleanse the tattooed area. Lightly rub, don’t scrub, in circular motions, effectively removing any oozing plasma or excess ink. Rinse thoroughly, ensuring no soap residue remains, as it can cause irritation and complications to the healing process.
Moisturizing Your Tattoo
After gently patting the area dry with a clean towel, allow your skin to air dry for a few moments before applying a thin layer of specialized tattoo aftercare lotion. The industry swears by products like Aquaphor and Tattoo Goo for the initial healing stages. However, after a few days, you can switch to a lighter, fragrance-free moisturizer, such as Lubriderm.
Protect Your Tattoo
Like a tiny sprout, a new tattoo is delicate and needs protection from the elements. During the healing process, avoid direct sunlight, and absolutely no sunbeds (sorry, bronzing enthusiasts). If going out into the sun is inevitable, keep your tattoo covered with clothing. Sunscreens on fresh tattoos are a no-no; however, once healed, apply a minimum SPF 30 to safeguard your tattoo’s vibrancy.
As we’ve established, resuming intense physical activities immediately after getting a tattoo is risky. During the healing process, focus on workouts that don’t directly impact your tattoo. If you’ve inked your arm, consider lower-body workouts or vice versa. Modify your routine, and you’ll find a way to stay active while ensuring the longevity of your new piece of body art.
Mind the Wardrobe
During the healing phase, loose, breathable cotton garments are your best friends. They help minimize friction and allow your tattoo to breathe, which is critical for healing. Avoid tight or synthetic materials directly over your tattoo to prevent unnecessary irritation and disruption of the healing process.
There you have it! A handy guide to post-tattoo care with an athlete’s spirit in mind. Incorporate these tips, and you’ll witness a seamless marriage of your physical endeavors and your journey of self-expression through tattoos.
Navigating the path of tattoo aftercare while maintaining your fitness routine is a delicate balancing act. Listen to your body, and when in doubt, give your body art the priority it deserves. After all, it’s not just an adornment, but a testament to your personal journey and identity. And don’t just take our word for it, this what esteemed tattoo artist, Jake Ross, known for his breathtaking detail work, says, “A tattoo isn’t just a piece of art; it’s a wound on your body. You wouldn’t go for a run with a sprained ankle, would you? Let your body, and your new ink, heal.”
Echoing this sentiment, New York-based fitness trainer and ink enthusiast, Ella Martin, advises, “Yes, fitness is a lifestyle, but your tattoo is a lifetime. A brief pause won’t derail your fitness journey, but it can certainly ensure your tattoo heals perfectly.”
Dr. Stephanie Freeman, a renowned dermatologist and tattoo enthusiast, offers this golden nugget of advice: “When it comes to tattoo aftercare, ‘less is more.’ Avoid unnecessary touching, scratching, or over-moisturizing. Let the skin do its natural healing, and your tattoo will come out looking vibrant and healthy.”
Benjamin Laukis, an award-winning tattoo artist, insists on the importance of quality aftercare products. He says, “Invest in a good quality, fragrance-free moisturizer and soap. It will make all the difference. It’s not just about getting a tattoo, it’s about keeping it looking fresh and vibrant.”
Celebrity fitness trainer, James Duigan, who works with the likes of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Hugh Jackman, suggests, “Modify your workouts to suit your new tattoo’s healing process. If you’ve got a new tattoo on your arm, concentrate on leg workouts, and vice versa. Remember, fitness isn’t just about high intensity, it’s about longevity and balance.”
Incorporating these bits of wisdom from both tattoo and fitness mavens paints a comprehensive picture of how to harmonize the commitment to physical fitness and the journey of self-expression through tattoos. It’s a delicate dance of care and patience, but with expert advice at your fingertips, you’re all set to waltz through the process.
Last reviewed and updated on May 26, 2023