work­out wor­ries solved

From stitches to itchy eyes, a whole range of health con­cerns can de­rail your ex­er­cise rou­tine. Here’s what you can do

Essentials (South Africa) - - CONTENTS NOVEMBER 2018 -

You've fi­nally de­cided to lift your­self up off the couch and get mov­ing. And while a daily trip to the gym will prob­a­bly re­sult in a good work­out and maybe even a tight ham­string the next day, there are a few things that you shouldn't be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing, like tight­ness in your chest or an un­ex­plained rash. Here's what to watch out for...


You shouldn’t have dif­fi­culty breath­ing when you work out. ‘ Ex­er­cise can be a com­mon trig­ger for asthma, though,’ says pul­mo­nolo­gist Dr James Hull. With this, you’ll have a tight band-like feel­ing across the chest and you may wheeze or cough. If di­ag­nosed, your doc­tor will pre­scribe in­halers. If in­halers don’t help, you may have a case of ex­er­cise-in­duced la­ryn­geal ob­struc­tion. ‘ This oc­curs when the voice box closes as you ex­er­cise,’ says Dr Hull. ‘ It’s of­ten mis­taken for asthma, but the throat or up­per chest feels tight, and may also be ac­com­pa­nied by a high-pitched wheeze.’ If you get breath­less af­ter any mild to mod­er­ate ex­er­tion you should see a doc­tor, as it could be a sign of an un­der­ly­ing heart is­sue.


Low iron lev­els are a com­mon prob­lem in women, es­pe­cially those who suf­fer from heavy pe­ri­ods, and they can make a work­out feel sig­nif­i­cantly harder. In fact, stud­ies at Cor­nell Univer­sity in the US show that women with low iron lev­els found their work­out to be more dif­fi­cult than those with healthy lev­els. ‘ While you can sup­ple­ment with iron, it’s best not to un­less your doc­tor has tested your iron lev­els and found you are of­fi­cially anaemic,’ says women’s health ex­pert Dr Mar­i­lyn Glenville. Too much iron can cause side ef­fects like con­sti­pa­tion, and can even be toxic. In­crease it nat­u­rally by eat­ing red meat or dark green leafy veg.


A stitch is a sharp pain in your side that ap­pears as you ex­er­cise and re­search shows that it could be re­lated to pos­ture. Those who tend to slump their up­per back for­ward while ex­er­cis­ing could be more prone to get­ting a stitch, as the po­si­tion seems to ag­gra­vate the nerves in the ab­dom­i­nal wall. Try straighten up when you ex­er­cise.


A dull pain that starts when you ex­er­cise, and stops when you stop, should be in­ves­ti­gated. ‘ This can be a sign of angina, which oc­curs when there’s a nar­row­ing in the artery feed­ing the heart that stops it get­ting the blood it needs,’ says car­di­ol­o­gist Dr Ajay Jain. See your GP, es­pe­cially if you ex­pe­ri­ence any other symp­toms like nau­sea and dizzi­ness, and/or breath­less­ness.


Cramps oc­cur when a mus­cle sud­denly con­tracts, caus­ing pain. It’s more likely if you’ve been ex­er­cis­ing for a long time or are de­hy­drated. If it starts up, stop mov­ing and try to gen­tly stretch out the mus­cle. If it re­ally hurts, try this tip from fit­ness in­struc­tor James Evans, who was taught the trick while he was in the marines. ‘ Try clench­ing your fists,’ he ad­vises. ‘ Tens­ing a mus­cle else­where in the body – like the hand and fore­arms – can re­lax the one that’s cramped.’


Ex­er­cis­ing af­ter eat­ing some foods (like prawns or wheat) can trig­ger food-de­pen­dent, ex­er­cise-in­duced ana­phy­laxis. ‘ Symp­toms can be an itchy mouth, itchy eyes or hives, but in a few peo­ple it can cause a se­ri­ous ana­phy­lac­tic re­ac­tion,’ says Dr An­drew Clark. If you have an al­ler­gic re­ac­tion dur­ing or af­ter ex­er­cise, see your GP.


This is nor­mal – called de­layed on­set mus­cle sore­ness (doms ). ‘ It can oc­cur six to 48 hours af­ter ex­er­cise and it’s be­lieved to be caused by in­flam­ma­tion that de­vel­ops as a re­sult of mi­cro­scopic tears in the mus­cle tis­sue that oc­cur when we ex­er­cise,’ says per­sonal trainer Zanna Van Dijk. it’s tricky to avoid doms when you're new to ex­er­cise, but build­ing up your work­outs slowly will help to limit the amount you feel. Zanna adds, ‘ Warm­ing up and cool­ing down will also help.' You can try Deep Heat Mus­cle Mas­sage Roll- On Lo­tion, R49,95, ap­plied be­fore ex­er­cise, too.


‘ Blis­ters are small pock­ets of fluid that form be­tween the up­per lay­ers of the skin, com­monly caused when shoes or socks rub,’ says po­di­a­trist Michael Rat­cliffe. Make sure that your shoes fit prop­erly and your socks don’t have any rough seams. If that doesn’t work, ap­ply a plas­ter to help re­duce fric­tion; try Nex­care Heel Blis­ter Cush­ions, R46,99 for four, Clicks.

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