Lightheadedness, dizziness, or blurred vision when running can be alarming, scary, and quite dangerous.
But it shouldn’t stop you from logging the miles.
Here’s the truth.
If you feel wobbly during a run, you may want to determine the reason why that happens, then do something about it ASAP.
Would you love to learn how to exactly do that?
Then you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, I’ll explain what dizziness while running is all about, what’s causing it, and more importantly, how to prevent it.
Keep on reading for the answers…
*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I’d use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own.
Lightheadedness While Running Explained
Let me start by stating that you probably don’t have a brain tumor if you get dizzy during or after a run.
No need to panic!
Vertigo while running can vary from mild to severe instability that may interfere with your training quality or post-training enjoyment.
The condition can be accompanied by a host of symptoms.
- Poor balance or false motion,
- Blurry vision (without prior history)
- Nausea, (without projectile vomit)
- Heavy or floating head,
- Weakness, or
These symptoms can manifest suddenly while running, just after a workout, or build slowly over time.
Dizziness While Running Red Flags
Although feeling lightheaded during or after a run isn’t always problematic, seek medical attention if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms:
- Slurred speech
- Severe and chronic headache
- Sudden deafness in one ear
- Extreme exhaustion
- Chest pain and/or palpitations.
- Projectile vomit
The Main Causes of Dizziness
If your head starts spinning or get woozy during a run, various culprits could be to blame.
Here are the main ones as well as how to how to deal with each.
Blood Pressure Drop
If you experience sudden dizziness or lightheadedness right after finishing a particularly intense run, low blood pressure could be the reason.
When running, or exercising in general, your blood pressure increases slightly as your heart works hard to pump blood through your veins and to your working muscles.
But here’s the little caveat.
When you stop running on the spot, you lose that muscle pump, which decreases blood circulation, resulting in lightheadedness and weakness.
How to Prevent Blood Pressure Drops
Do a 5- to 10-minute cool-down before jumping in the shower.
Give your body enough time to gradually and slowly transition back to a normal and resting state.
Here’s your full guide to proper cool-downs.
Running Too Hard
Running out of breath while logging the miles, therefore, isn’t only a common side effect, but an expected result.
In fact, if you’re not gasping for air every now and then while running, it means that you’re pushing yourself hard enough.
But when you push your body too hard, the increased heart rate level can be problematic.
The increased demands placed on the body combined with heavy sweating (dehydration) can lead to lower blood volume, which results in lower blood pressure.
This can leave you feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or even faint.
How to Prevent Overexertion
Running too much too fast can do more than harm than good, so listen to your body and adjust your training accordingly.
If you’re feeling lightheaded or dizzy during a high-intensity workout, slow down and take a minute to catch your breath and slow your heart rate.
It’s great to push yourself on the running track every now and then, but don’t turn it into a habit.
Otherwise, you might be setting yourself up for a painful setback.
Dehydration & Dizziness During A run
Dehydration occurs when you shed more water than you’re taking in.
When you run, your core temperature increases.
Your body sweats to bring this temperature down.
You can lose a ton of water and electrolyte while running, especially during long runs in the heat.
Early warning signs of dehydration include:
- Dry mouth
- Extreme thirst
- Running headache
How to Prevent Dehydration
The best way to avoid dehydration is to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
That way you make sure to stay well hydrated before, during, and after your runs.
Shoot for at least two to three glasses of water during the two hours before you head out.
Also, remember to bring water with you on long-running sessions—especially when training in the heat.
Aim to sip an ounce or two every 15 to 20 minutes.
Low Blood Sugar
Food is energy, and if you’re skipping meals, you won’t have the fuel you need to keep up with the demands of your training.
When this happens, you’ll often feel lightheaded, weak, or experience dizziness or trembling.
This is especially the case when you exercise hard or for too long or when training on an empty stomach.
How To Prevent Low Blood Sugar
Unless you have diabetes, preventing this condition is easy: Have the right food at the right times.
Instead of running on an empty stomach, go for a light meal or snack—preferably one with complex carbohydrates and protein, such as yogurt with fruit as well as apples with peanut butter.
Since breathing happens on auto-pilot, most people take for it granted—runners are no exception.
A lot of runners have the tendency to hold their breath or use shallow.
This form of improper breathing does not impede running performance, but could also result in feeling lightheaded.
How To Prevent Improper Breathing
You can no longer control your breath while running?
Slow it down, or stop to rest and recover.
To err on the side of caution, especially if dizziness is a big issue, stick to a conversational training pace.
This means being able to talk while running without panting for air.
You can also try synchronizing your breath with your foot strikes while running.
I’d recommend a 3:2 ratio—in for three steps, out for two-step.
Inhale, inhale, inhale-exhale, exhale, in sync with your steps.
Feeling Dizzy While Treadmill Running
Another common complaint among runners is feeling dizzy while treadmill running, especially when stepping off the machine after a workout.
This is caused by a disconnect between your brain and your body.
When running on the treadmill, your body gets used to the ground moving beneath your feet to meet your steps.
This alters your stride as you come against less resistance during the push-off phase.
But here’s the tricky part.
Once you jump back onto solid ground, the floor becomes motionless.
Your brain is deluded into thinking that you’re moving forward in space, but your body is in reality staying in the same place.
This change in positioning can cause motion sickness or dizziness, especially if you’re not used to treadmill training.
Just keep in mind that the degree of this vertigo actually varies among people.
How to Overcome Treadmill Vertigo
This type of vertigo is not dangerous and often goes away after a few treadmill runs.
It’s just a matter of practice and getting your body used to the machine.
One thing you can if you typically feel dizzy after using a treadmill is to slow down gradually.
Reduce your pace over the course of three to five minutes until you’re walking comfortably and breathing normally.
Then, and only then, get off the machine.
Get into a recovery position or simply sit down.
The above list consists of the most common factors that could be causing (or at least contributing) to your condition, but they don’t cover the full gamut.
In some cases, your dizziness while exercising can be blamed on underlying medical issues, such as ear problems (likemeniere) and heart diseases (Such as tachycardia, bradycardia, and arrhythmia), or taking certain medications, especially blood pressure medication.
What To Do If You Experience Vertigo During A Running Workout?
If you’re feeling dizzy or lightheaded in the middle of a run, stop running and find a cool spot.
Are you running on the treadmill?
Hit the emergency red stop button and stop down.
Next, elevate your legs above your heart, placing your feet up on a wall, chair, or bench.
This way the circulating blood can go back into your heart and brain.
Try not to push your body more than it can handle.
It’s key to manage dizziness while exercising right.
Ignore your symptoms and it will get worse.
Before picking up running again, try to rule out the cause of the lightheadedness and a practical solution.
In case you adjust your training approach but continue to dizziness while exercising, make an appointment with your doctor ASAP.
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