How To Avoid Stretch Marks From Working Out (9 Tips)

Working out is one of the best decisions you’ll make in your life. However, it does have some side effects. One of them is increased stretch marks around the body.

What are Stretch Marks?

A stretch mark is a type of scar on the skin. It happens when the skin stretches and shrinks many times in a short period.

As you can see, two proteins known as elastin and collagen are responsible for holding the skin. But when the skin gets twisted many times, these proteins get distorted, making the skin lose its shape.

Are They Harmful?

Talking from the health point of view, stretch marks themselves aren’t harmful. They don’t cause diseases and are rarely the risk factor for any. Also, they are very common- estimates show that about 90% of people have them.

However, the one thing that concerns many is how these marks can make their skin look bad. Furthermore, if not treated, the scars can spread throughout the body, causing more annoyance. 

Note: Even if stretch marks aren’t harmful, they may sometimes be caused by underlying health conditions. It is the best idea to go to a dermatologist if you have other symptoms, including

  • Unexplained weight gain.
  • Muscle pain.
  • General weakness.
  • Wounds taking a lot of time to heal.
  • Allergies.

Exercise and Stretch Marks

Heavy workouts are one of the biggest causes of stretch marks. As you lift a lot of weight, you put a lot of strain on your skin and muscles. Furthermore, heavy workouts cause rapid weight loss or gain, contributing to these marks.

Tips to Avoid Stretch Marks from Working Out

While exercising, the best way to avoid these marks is by becoming conscious about them. You must treat your muscles as something very delicate and aim to bulk up steadily. You will also need to take care of your general well-being. Here are some things you can do:

Eat Healthy Food

To minimize any sort of skin rashes, you have to make sure that you meet the requirements for every nutrient that’s needed for healthy skin.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A supports and controls collagen and keratin production. The nutrient is mostly found in food such as pumpkin, leafy greens, beef liver, sweet potato, eggs, etc.

According to the National Institutes of Health, Adult men require about 900 mcg, and women need 700 mcg of Vitamin A daily. Similarly, pregnant and breastfeeding women need 770 and 1200 mcg, respectively.

Vitamin B Complex

Vitamin B complex is used to represent eight forms of vitamin B. You need adequate amounts of all of them for healthy skin.

The table below lists the types of Vitamin B complex and the amount that males and females need daily. Again, the data comes from NIH.

TypeRequirement for MenRequirement for Female
B-1 (Thiamine)1.2 mg1.1 mg
B-2  (Riboflavin)1.3 mg1.1 mg
B-3 (Niacin)16 mg NE14 mg NE
B-5 (Panthothenic Acid)5 mg5 mg
B-6 (Pyridoxine)1.3 mg1.3 mg
B-7 (Biotin)30 mcg30 mcg
B-9 (Folic Acid)400 mcg DFE400 mcg DFE
B-12 (Cobalamin)2.4 mcg2.4 mcg

Vitamin B comes from meat, seafood, nuts, seeds, etc. Furthermore, you may need to consider supplementing since it’s kind of tricky given the different types of Vitamin B you require.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C also supports collagen production. Furthermore, it is an essential nutrient if you already have stretch marks as it supports wound healing. 

The best food for vitamin C include acidic fruits like orange and lemons and vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower. Furthermore, the daily recommended amount of Vitamin C is 65 to 90 mg.

Make sure that you don’t exceed the upper limit of vitamin C, which is about 2000 mg a day.

Zinc

Zinc plays many roles for healthy skin, including stabilizing cell membranes, healing wounds, transferring vitamin A, regulating sebum etc. Furthermore, this nutrient is responsible for the functioning of more than 300 types of enzymes

As per various recommendations, women need 8 mg, and men require 10 mg of zinc. The best food for zinc includes red meat, whole grains, almond, poultry, etc.

Especially if you don’t eat meat, you should consider getting zinc supplements. You see, zinc from plants aren’t as easily absorbed as from meat. 

Furthermore, the amount of zinc in your plant-based food depends on the abundance of the mineral on the soil the food is grown on. And if it’s not organic, then there’s a high chance your plant diet won’t consist of a lot of this nutrient.

Protein 

Protein has two roles to play against stretch marks. First, it promotes healthy muscle growth, putting less tension on the skin. And another is that it directly supports the production of collagen. You can even drink protein powder without working out.

The minimum daily intake value of protein is 8.0 grams per kilogram of your body weight. But remember, this value is only to prevent deficiency, and if you are building muscles, you require more of this nutrient. The recommendations are between 1.6 grams to 2.2 grams per kilogram of your weight.

Meat, egg, beans, lentils, seafood, etc., are the best sources of protein. And if you are already working out, you may have your own favorite protein shake.

Essential Fatty Acids

According to the Dietary Reference Intake, 20% to 35% of your total daily calories should come from fat. Moreover, 15% to 20% of this fat should be monosaturated, 5% to 10% polyunsaturated, and less than 10 % should be saturated fat. You have to avoid trans fat and cholesterol as much as possible.

Some healthy fat sources include nuts, olive oil, avocado, meat, dairy products, etc.

Stop Overexerting 

Patience seems to be the key to avoiding stretch marks when working out. Sudden weight gain, even muscle weight, puts a lot of tension on your skin, resulting in these annoying scars.

While working out, instead of lifting extremely heavy weights, do lower weight and more repetitions. In addition to this, prevent taking steroids- they cause your muscles to grow quickly, but since your skin can’t keep up with it, you may experience various skin problems.

Moisturize Your Skin

Dry skin is less flexible than oily skin, so it’s more likely to tear when there’s strain. Hence, you will need to ensure adequate moisture on your skin before working out. 

Many mainstream moisturizing products claim to remove stretch marks, but there is no concrete evidence that they actually work. Thus, rather, health professionals recommend using home products such as manuka honey, coconut oil, olive oil, aloe vera, oats, avocado oil, etc. They have fewer side effects and may do the job better than packaged chemicals.

Treating Stretch Marks 

If you already have stretch marks, you need to treat them as fast as you can before they spread across the body. There are two ways for this:

Prescription Medicine

Two classes of medicines can be applied on the skin for treating stretch marks:

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic is a naturally occuring substance that acts as a lubricant between joints and other tissues. They have been found to be effective against stretch marks and ageing skin.

Tretinoin

Tretinoin is a Vitamin A derivative. It can be in the form of gel, cream, or solution. More than treating stretch marks, it’s mostly used to make early stretch marks less noticeable.

Dermatology Procedures

Dermatology procedures are more effective in hiding stretch marks but tend to be expensive and have some side effects. Some include:

  • Chemical peel
  • Laser therapy
  • Radiofrequency
  • Microneedling
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Ultrasound
  • Cosmetic Surgery

Before deciding to go for any of the above procedures, you need to ask yourself if you really want to put your skin at risks. After all, they don’t fully remove your stretch marks. And even without any of these treatments, most stretch marks fade gradually with time.

Related: Can working out make you taller?

Making Marks Less Noticeable

Here are some ways you can make your stretch marks less visible:

  • Applying Selfless Sun Tans
  • Body Makeup Matched with Skin Appearance
  • Board Shorts and Rash Guards
  • Wearing Longer clothes

Other Ways to Stop Stretch Marks

Here are some other tips that can come in handy to minimize stretch marks:

  • Avoid smoking.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Try not to eat junk food, especially the fatty ones with high amounts of cholestrol and unhealthy fat.
  • Wear sunscreen and let it soak for at least 30 seconds before exposing your skin to direct sun. 
  • Limit the application of chemical products on your skin. 

Key Takeaway

Despite being riddance, stretch marks are natural. Hence, they are very likely to appear when you work out. Anyway, if you find these marks worry you a lot, there still are some ways to minimize them. All you need to do is eat the right food, stop sudden heavy weight lifting, and use natural products to moisturize your skin. 

Finally, you will have to stop stressing about them a lot; they are one of those things you can’t control, so just focus on being the best version of yourself.