There are no set rules on how long to wait to practice after getting a tattoo. However, there are a few important factors to consider before heading back to the gym with fresh ink.
The general rule is; you shouldn’t start exercising again right after getting a tattoo. Many would wonder why the wait is so necessary, and others would try to find the connection between tattoo aftereffects and exercise.
In the following paragraphs, we will tackle this problem and find the best, legit and verified answers to the above-mentioned questions. So if you’re wondering when and how you should train after getting a tattoo, keep reading!
Training and skin changes
How does exercise affect the skin?
We are starting from the very beginning. For you to understand how exercise affects fresh ink, it’s important to first understand how it affects the skin.
First of all, it is well known that during a workout your skin stretches. This is normal, especially if you build muscle and do endurance or weightlifting exercises. During intense workouts, the skin may even weaken and lead to the appearance of stretch marks, as the exercise involves lifting heavy weights for a longer period of time.
Another important event to mention is the increase in skin temperature during training. During training, your body temperature and heart rate increase, which leads to an increase in body temperature.
As a result, you start sweating, which leads to heat buildup in the skin. The reason why the skin temperature rises is to cool the body, as it helps in the evaporation of sweat from the skin.
Now, this all seems completely natural and harmless, doesn’t it? But what if such skin changes occur while you’re dealing with a new tattoo? Let’s find out!
How does training affect tattooed skin?
After getting a new tattoo, it will be wrapped in foil and should remain covered for the next 24-48 hours. as recommended by your tattoo artist. During this time, your tattoo will act like an open wound, that’s true. The tattoo will bleed, ooze, get rid of excess plasma and ink. It is an uncomfortable and painful process.
Once your tattoo is done leaking it will start to dry out and you need to focus on your aftercare routine.
Now imagine that you are going to exercise with an open and painful wound. Even without standard skin changes during a workout, you’ll feel incredibly uncomfortable and possibly in a lot of pain. Would you exercise with a deep cut or an open gunshot wound? No, you wouldn’t.
As mentioned, exercise helps stretch the skin. If you’re going to exercise with a new tattoo, you most definitely stretch it. This will disrupt the healing process and possibly promote more oozing and bleeding. You might even disturb the ink and cause the excess ink to leak out more than it should.
- Sweating and temperature increase
On the other hand, as you exercise, you will surely start sweating and your skin temperature will rise. As you can imagine, all of these conditions, humidity and heat, can completely mess up the healing process of the tattoo.
Your tattoo wants to dry out because it’s already oozing and wants to cool down because it’s already sore, red, and hot itself. When you exercise, the tattooed skin can even swell even more than it already is, which can lead to excessive bleeding and further injury.
We forgot to mention an important notion when it comes to exercising after getting a tattoo; clothes. Since you will not be going to exercise half-naked, you will surely have to wear clothes that will most likely cover the fresh tattoo. No matter how loose or tight the clothing is, friction between the material of the clothing and the tattoo is sure to occur.
Due to friction, your tattoo wrapper may fall off and you may directly hurt the tattooed skin since the friction will be direct. Your clothes could stick to the tattoo and dry out as such, requiring you to “peel” them off the freshly tattooed skin. It looks painful!
Also, even if the tattoo remains wrapped somehow, rubbing can still cause skin irritation and contribute to infection, especially in the first 2 days. Later, when the tattoo has started to heal, the friction can rub off the scabs and contribute to the peeling of the tattoo, which is not good for aftercare.
Also Read: Wearing Clothes Over a New Tattoo: Can You Do It and How?
Is there a way to practice after getting a tattoo?
Even though there are many ways to exercise with a fresh tattoo, we still advise against strenuous, sweaty physical activity until the tattoo is completely healed!
Now, as you can see, practicing after getting a tattoo is definitely not a good idea. However, we didn’t say it was mission impossible. There are a few ways and tips to stay active even when you’re freshly tattooed, but some risk factors should be considered.
The riskier the placement of the tattoo on the body, the less likely you will be able to exercise properly after getting a tattoo. This is the general rule.
Now, if the tattoo is placed where the skin tends to stretch and sweat the most, you should avoid practicing. For example, if the tattoo is placed on the torso, around the knees, elbows, around the armpits or hands, you may want to delay your workout routine for a while.
These areas stretch and sweat the most, which could interfere with the healing process of the tattoo.
Also, this part can be tricky because there are so many sports and physical activities, and each of them affects different parts of the body. So to sum it up, if training, exercise or sporting activity directly affects the tattooed area (by stretching, pulling, increasing friction and being touchable), then DO NOT exercise with a fresh tattoo.
If the tattoo is properly covered with wraps and looser clothing, and not directly affected by the activity, you can try doing some light exercise. We always want you to keep sweating and increased body temperature in mind, which could still pose a risk to tattoo healing.
Type of training and intensity
As mentioned, not all workouts and activities are the same, and each affects different muscles and areas of the body. So, to determine if you should do your regular workout routine, we need to determine the type and intensity of your workout.
If you’re considering lifting weights, we’ll tell you right now; regardless of the location of the tattoo, it will be messed up and you may get hurt. Lifting weights affects the whole body since the intensity and pressure on the body is incredible.
So, avoid doing any type of workout that is physically strenuous and can lead to heavy sweating. Avoid running too long, lifting weights and overstretching. Intense training can cause the tattoo to break out (since new skin is forming and the blisters are fresh and fragile).
And even if you plan to do some light exercise, we still don’t recommend doing it too early in the tattoo healing process.
Whether your training takes place outside on the field, or indoors in the gym, it is important to know that the area where you are training is as clean as possible. First of all, we strongly recommend that you stop training outdoors; the world is full of bacteria and viruses that could easily take over your body and enter it through the open wound that is your tattoo. Let’s avoid this scenario.
Second, if you have any doubt that your gym is perfectly clean and the equipment is regularly disinfected and cleaned, do not train there, especially with a fresh tattoo. The gym is the perfect place for bacteria and viruses to spread, so unless you want your tattoo to infect, try working out in the comfort of your home for a while.
As we mentioned, tattoos and clothes are not best friends. The result of such interaction is friction, you may want to avoid wearing tight workout clothes. However, wearing clothes that are too baggy carries certain risks in itself.
If the clothes are too baggy, they simply serve as a welcoming committee for any bacteria and germs that plan to attack your tattoo; we mean there is too much free space between your skin and loose clothing.
So try to strike a balance between tight and loose; make sure the clothes still fit you, without pressing directly on the skin. This will reduce the chance of friction, chafing, and skin irritation, as well as the buildup of bacteria and germs.
After training after training
Now, that might be one of the biggest hassles when it comes to working out and getting a new tattoo. Once you are done with the workout, it is essential to take a shower and wash off the dirty sweat.
Now, showering with a fresh tattoo for at least 24 hours is not recommended. Water can prevent the tattoo from drying out and can prolong the healing process, increasing the risk of infection.
So if you decide to practice with a new tattoo, you might want to wash the surrounding tattoo area with antibacterial soap and warm water. Do not apply any lotion to the tattoo and don’t even think about putting Vaseline above.
Vaseline and petroleum products are only useful during showers when the tattoo has started to heal well. Otherwise they should not be used on tattoos and skin!
As you can see, it is very important to be careful with a new tattoo, if you want it to heal properly and quickly. There is no general rule on how long to wait before you can train without worries. We recommend waiting for the tattoo to heal, which can take anywhere from 2 weeks to a month. In the meantime, you can walk around and do some light exercise, but not while the tattoo is still fresh, especially the first 2 days.
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