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
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 FEEL BREATHLESS
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.
YOU GET A STITCH
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.
YOU GET PAIN IN YOUR CHEST
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.
YOU GET CRAMPS
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.’
YOU COME OUT IN AN ITCHY RASH
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.
YOUR MU SCLE S ACHE TOO MUCH THE NEXT DAY
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.
YOU GET BLISTERS
‘ 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.