Why did I get light-headed post-race/run?

This is a not altogether rare occurrence.

You stop running and dizziness consumes your head.

Why is this  happening and what should you do?

Why do people get light headed?

Becoming light headed is a method your body uses to get you to lay down, for various reasons.

In the case of athletics, the cause is likely low blood pressure. During running, your blood vessels vasodilate, expanding and decreasing blood pressure. Combining this with the reduction in blood plasma level due to sweat loss leads to a decrease in blood pressure. While running your heart is strongly pumping, keeping everything working well.

However when you suddenly stop running, your heart quickly decreases the beats per minute, and this leads to a quick reduction in blood pressure. To normalize this and get blood back into your head, you get dizzy or light headed!

How can you prevent lightheadedness? 

Above, you read that losing sweat can contribute to low blood pressure. While this is true, it's highly unlikely that drinking more water than what thirst dictates would help this is.

Since it's rare for dizziness to occur while running, the best way to prevent it after a run is with a cool down. To cool down all you must do is gradually decrease your running speed and take a few minutes to even walk back to wear you started instead of running back and suddenly coming to a stop.

There are also other benefits to a cool down.

What should you do if you feel light headed?

Do as the body dictates - lay down and get your feet up. This will return blood to your head and you'll start to feel better in a few moments!


 

Kyle Kranz

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