Getting dizzy and lightheaded is always scary, but especially if it happens after a run or other workout.
If you’re reading this article, then there’s a good chance that this scary feeling has happened to you at least once.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about lightheadedness after a run. We’ll discuss the reasons why someone might get dizzy after a run as well as some tips on how to prevent it.
Why Does Dizziness Occur After Running?
Dizziness after running can occur for a variety of reasons. Many are not serious, but sometimes lightheadedness can be caused by more serious issues. If none of these causes seem to match your condition, talk to a doctor.
Typically, dizziness occurs after running due to blood pressure, which comes down quickly after a sudden stop. This is more likely to occur after a hard run or race because you pushed your body really hard and then all of the sudden stopped.
In order to support a harder effort, your blood vessels dilate to account for higher blood flow.
But when you stop suddenly, blood flow quickly drops off, although the blood vessels stay expanded. This can decrease your blood pressure, which leads to dizziness.
Lightheadedness can be caused by more serious complications like a heart condition. But if you don’t think that you’ve been working out or running particularly hard, you’re likely dealing with one of the causes below.
If you’re not taking in the oxygen that you need because you’re not breathing properly, then you might experience dizziness. You need more oxygen when you’re exercising, which is why your heart rate goes up. It’s also why you need to breathe deeply and more often.
If you are only doing shallow breaths or breathing at a slower rate, you won’t get the oxygen you need. Dizziness, which indicates that the brain needs more oxygen, can be a result.
Dehydration has a variety of symptoms, and dizziness is one of them. As runners, it’s especially important to make sure that we’re getting the hydration we need. That includes replacing fluids lost to sweat.
It’s more common for dehydration to occur in children and older adults. It happens more often in the summer rather than in the winter. However, anyone can get dehydrated. If you’re thirsty, then you’re dehydrated.
Not only is dehydration unsafe, but it also affects a runner’s performance substantially. It’s important to make sure that you get the hydration that you need.
To check your hydration, pinch the skin on the back of your hand. If it snaps back into place quickly, you’re good. If it takes a while, then you need to drink a glass of water or some Gatorade.
Low Blood Sugar
If you’re someone who is prone to having low blood sugar, or if you tend to run right after you get up in the morning, you might experience dizziness due to low blood sugar. This occurs when your levels of glucose (sugar), which the body uses more during running, are very low.
If you haven’t eaten very much or it’s a morning run, then you’re probably dizzy because your blood sugar is low.
A simple solution is making sure that you get more fuel in your system before that run. Eating a banana is a great option because it will give you some sugar without too much.
How Can I Prevent Dizziness After a Run?
First, figure out what is causing your dizziness in particular. Then you can make adjustments to prevent dizziness after running. The two tips below are things that you definitely want to keep in mind no matter what is causing your dizziness.
Do a Proper Cool Down
First, runners are notorious for completely skipping the cool down. But this is not a good health decision. Your body needs time to recover before you plop down on the couch and watch Netflix.
This is especially important after a hard run or race. Keep moving. Even if you feel like sitting down, keep walking for at least 5-10 minutes after your run.
This will give your blood vessels time to adjust, and will bring your heart rate down gradually as opposed to suddenly.
If you’re finding that you tend to deal with dizziness on a regular basis, before seeing a doctor, think about what your runs are like. Are you always going hard? If so, then the issue might be that your running routine is just too much.
Although it’s okay to throw in a super-challenging workout here and there, many of your runs should be at a comfortable pace where you can talk somewhat easily or say the Pledge of Allegiance. If you can’t even do this, you need to rethink your training plan.
After you finish, you need to rehydrate with a sports drink and/or water to replenish what you lost during your run. You’ll want to drink 16-24 fluid ounces for every pound lost during your run.
You may need to drink more if you sweat a lot, or if it was really hot outside. You can even put ice in your water or make sure that you get it from the fridge to help cool down your body more rapidly.
Also, you might want to try eating fruit, too. It’s a good source of electrolytes, fiber, and water. In other words, fruit is a nearly perfect recovery drink. It’s a way to sneak in a little bit more hydration with your mind thinking that it’s a treat.
What Do I Do if the Dizziness is Very Bad or Won’t Stop?
If you can’t get the dizziness to stop, or if it’s very bad, lie down and raise your legs, making your head level with your heart. This will help get more blood to your brain, which should improve your dizziness.
Just make sure that when you get up, you don’t do it too quickly because then you could get lightheaded again.
If you’ve driven somewhere to run, do not try to drive home until the dizziness stops. Call a family member to come pick you up if you really want to get home.
If you get dizzy frequently and/or it occurs even when you haven’t just gotten back from a run, you should see a medical professional. It’s normal to feel dizzy after running occasionally, but it shouldn’t be a common thing.
Finally, if you have a fever over 101 degrees, blurry vision, hearing or speech impairments, or other symptoms, you need immediate medical attention as it could be something very serious like a dramatic drop in blood pressure or a heart attack.
While feeling dizzy is unexpected and scary, there’s a good chance that what is causing your lightheadedness after running is very preventable.
Making sure that you’re getting the hydration that you need and that you aren’t working out too hard will alleviate dizziness.
And remember: don’t forget about the cool down. For most people, taking the necessary time to cool down after a run, especially a hard run, will do the trick to stopping feelings of lightheadedness.