You had the perfect tattoo idea and felt like you couldn’t live without it. You called the artist, scheduled the appointment, and decided on the design and placement. You sat in the chair, endured the needles, got bandaged up, tipped your artist, and left feeling thrilled about your brand new ink.
But then you got home, and it dawned on you. Wait… can I workout after getting a tattoo?
Whether you just got your first tattoo or are planning to add another to your collection, we have the answers you need.
Before you leave the studio, your artist will advise you to keep your bandages on for the first 24 hours and follow a proper tattoo aftercare regimen. That’s because tattooing opens up skin, leaving it vulnerable to infection, especially for the first couple weeks of the healing process.
You should take care of a fresh tattoo as you would take care of a wound. After getting tattooed, always wait at least 48 hours before exercising to prevent issues related to skin pulling, sweat, and bacteria exposure.
We know this disruption to your workout routine working out could be frustrating,but if you get your exercise in earlier in the day before your tattoo appointment, it won’t feel like as much of a disruption to your routine.
Beyond that, deciding how long to wait to workout after a tattoo session comes down to the following considerations:
The placement is a big determining factor in how much exercising will interfere with the healing process. For example, imagine how uncomfortable certain exercises would be with a fresh tattoo on/near a joint, the hands or feet, or larger tattoos on the torso, arms, or legs.
On the other hand, a small cosmetic tattoo, for example, won’t get in the way of most workouts past the 48-hour mark.
After getting your work done, you’re likely wondering about how long to workout after tattoo sessions in terms of workout length and intensity. Since it can take up to six weeks for a tattoo to fully heal, you may want to plan workouts according to which part of your body was recently tattooed. The intensity or length of a workout after a tattoo matters because of sweating and stretching.
For example, going for an easy walk or bike ride with a brand-new tattoo may be more comfortable than running an 8k. Light yoga or pilates may be better for your body within a week of getting inked, rather than heavy lifting or other intense strength training exercises.
Where and how should you workout after getting a tattoo?
We think of the gym as a place that helps promote health, but with newly tattooed skin prone to infection, the gym could pose a major health hazard.
Even if you go to an ultra-clean gym, MRSA (staph) bacteria spreads easily on surfaces in athletic facilities, so you may want to opt for home workouts during the first week or two of the tattoo healing process.
You also need to avoid certain types of exercise, including swimming, contact sports, and anything involving direct sun exposure such as running outdoors.
If you’re working out at home with a new calf or thigh tattoo, it might be easiest to wear shorts at the right length so that you don’t have to worry about your clothes rubbing.
Otherwise, choose workout clothes that are loose enough that they don’t put pressure on the newly tattooed spot, yet not so loose that they move around and rub too much.
The ink that a tattoo machine deposits into your skin isn’t permanent until the tattoo heals. Excess friction, heat, moisture, and skin stretching might keep the ink from fully setting into your skin.
Here’s why choosing your gear, types of exercise, and intensity level wisely is an important part of proper tattoo aftercare:
Over-stretching the skin where you have a new tattoo can permanently distort the lines, color fill, and shading. Your tattoo may even seep ink and/or bleed. This can result from doing stretches, over-exerting muscle, and rapidly building muscle.
When your body temperature rises, your skin regulates it by sweating. Excess moisture leads to premature peeling, which disturbs healing. Avoid over-applying ointment or lotion, swimming, or sweating too much through recently tattooed skin.
Friction can also irritate your tattoo, accelerate peeling, and prolong your tattoo’s healing. At the wrong stage in the healing process, pressure and rubbing on that spot can cause problems and pull ink out of your skin.
Most professionals say you can generally expect tattoos to heal in two weeks, but it’s usually safe to work out 48 hours after getting a tattoo or 1–2 days after laser tattoo removal.
Make sure you’re wearing comfortable clothes, following aftercare instructions, and avoiding overexertion. Protect the area from germs, skin pulling, friction, moisture, and sunlight, and you should be safe to exercise by day three.
Share your secrets for healing without putting your active lifestyle on hold. Is your choice of activewear the key to success?
Head over to Instagram and tell us @goalfive about your favorite tattoo-friendly workout gear and ways to get active.
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