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Dizziness Upon Running: Is it Normal?

Dizziness upon running can be frightening, especially if it suddenly starts with no explanation. However, when you understand why dizziness occurs and the bodily changes that running can bring about, the reasons behind dizziness upon running are clear, and it is easier to take steps to prevent it from happening in future. Read on to find out more about dizziness upon running and why it can happen.

How to prevent dizziness upon running

Dizziness

Dizziness is when a person feels lightheaded or unbalanced, and this can sometimes lead to fainting. Normally, it is short-lived, and lying down for a few seconds or minutes helps it pass. It is quite a common symptom and can be indicative of many things, most not a reason for concern. A few of the most common causes of dizziness are:

  • A sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Decrease in blood volume
  • Neurological conditions
  • Side effect from medications
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Anemia
  • Dehydration
  • Heatstroke

Why Do I Feel Dizzy Upon Running?

After running, some people experience a sensation of spinning, false motion, or a floating head. It can sometimes result in fainting after intense exercise, and can occur suddenly or develop over time. The reason for dizziness after running can normally be blamed on a number of reasons, such as:

  • Dehydration. Running causes sweating and loss of moisture in the body, and if this is not topped up, then it can leave the runner severely dehydrated and prone to dizziness.

  • Stopping abruptly. While you are running, the blood vessels dilate in order to support the increased blood flow, and if exercise suddenly stops, the heart rate slows and blood flow decreases. However, as the vessels are still large, the blood pressure also decreases, resulting in dizziness.

  • Heat exhaustion. Being too hot is a prime cause of dizziness, and intense exercise like running raises the body's temperature, especially if the person is dehydrated. This is the reason why it is recommended to take regular breaks and to warm up properly prior to exercise.

How Do I Prevent it?

Dizziness upon running doesn't happen to everyone, but for those who do suffer from it, dizziness can be prevented. A few tips are listed below:

  • Lie on the ground so your head is level with your heart, which will increase blood flow to the brain, alleviating dizzy sensations.

  • Avoid exercising too vigorously, especially if your body is not used to exercise. Slow down your running pace if you feel you are overexerting your body, and take breaks when you feel you need them.

  • Cool down gradually instead of simply stopping intense exercise; for example, walk for the last five minutes of your workout. This will help your blood vessels return to normal slowly and avoid a sudden drop in blood pressure.

  • Keep hydrated. Whenever you feel thirsty, take a sip of water. There is no extra benefit to gain from depriving yourself of water, and it can be dangerous if you black out and fall or bang your head.

Although dizziness upon running is not “normal” if the right precautions are taken, it is nevertheless no cause for concern. Some people will be more naturally prone to it than others, but most will find that once they take adequate safety measures, this unpleasant sensation after running will disappear. Read more on how to manage constant dizziness.

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Sources:
  • National Health Service UK. (2014). Running tips for beginners. Retrieved November 14, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/getting-started-guides/Pages/getting-started-running.aspx
  • National Institutes of Health. (2013). Dizziness. Retrieved November 14, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003093.htm