Why Do I Cough After I Run
We all know that running on a treadmill or outside can be hard work — especially when it’s hot out. Even if you’re not training for a marathon, you may have experienced shortness of breath during or after a run. It could even feel like you’ve been hit by a cold virus or allergies. Whatever the reason, we’ll explain what causes this condition.
Simply stated, your airways temporarily constrict, which can cause you to cough. This is called exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAII). The ACAII explains that EIB occurs in about 75 percent of people who run. In most cases, symptoms go away within an hour of stopping or slowing down one’s pace. If they don’t, you should see your doctor immediately. You might have asthma, allergies or other respiratory problems.
The good news is that there are ways to prevent EIB from happening. For instance, take a few minutes before getting started so you can warm up properly. And wear loose fitting clothing made of cotton, which will breathe better than synthetic materials. Also, remember to stay hydrated. Drink water throughout your workout, particularly at the beginning. Finally, try to avoid going too far past what your body needs. Your heart rate shouldn’t exceed 85 percent of its maximum predicted level.
If you already suffer from EIB, take note of what triggers it. Some things that cause EIB include allergens such as pollen and animal hair; irritants like chemicals and dust; medications including decongestants, antihistamines and beta blockers; certain foods including citrus fruits, chocolate, milk, tomatoes and potatoes; and weather conditions that make breathing difficult. Once you identify these factors, avoid them while exercising. You could also use nasal spray treatments to help with allergy relief.
Now let’s look at some more specific reasons why you might experience coughing during or after a run.
So why do runners tend to cough? According to Dr. Mark A. Tarnower, M.D., professor emeritus of medicine at University of Miami, part of the problem has to do with our bodies’ natural reaction to oxygen deprivation. Basically, our lungs need to get rid of carbon dioxide gas formed during respiration. When we run, however, our body produces extra carbon dioxide, which makes us exhale faster. As a result, we have less time to replenish the amount of oxygen in our blood. We also lose control over how much air goes into our lungs versus how much leaves instead. To counteract this effect, the lungs begin to contract involuntarily until enough air comes out.
This isn’t necessarily bad, but it does mean that we can end up having difficulty inhaling deeply because our chest doesn’t expand as fully as normal. Additionally, there’s a difference between deep breaths and shallow ones. Shallow breaths involve taking in just a third of a lung capacity, whereas deep breaths involve filling about half the space inside your lungs. So, if you only take in about two thirds of your lungs’ worth of air, then that means you’re probably doing something wrong. Keep reading to learn how you can fix this issue and prevent yourself from developing “runners’ lungs.”
Fixing Exercises That Cause Coughing
It’s pretty common for athletes, both professional and amateur, to develop various kinds of injuries, including muscle strains, stress fractures and tendonitis. However, another type of injury that affects runners is called pectus excavatum. PECTUS EXCAVATUM MEANS AN ABNORMAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE BREASTHOLE AND SHOULD NOT BE CONFUSED WITH MARSUPIALS OR HUMAN BIRTH DEFECTS.
Pectus excavatum is a congenital defect where the sternum becomes abnormally curved inward. People with this deformity often suffer from back pain, rib cage compression, scoliosis, low self esteem and psychological issues. Because of the curvature, people with pectus excavatum have trouble fitting their chest into their shirts. But, they still want to maintain a healthy lifestyle by engaging in sports activities. Unfortunately, many exercises can aggravate the condition. Running is no exception.
When we run, we place a lot of pressure on our chests, specifically on our pectorals. Our upper back muscles must compensate for the added load. Over time, this puts unnecessary strain on the intercostal muscles, which connect the ribs to each other. These muscles are used to perform internal rotations and expansions of the chest. They also act as levers against external forces, and provide stability for the vertebrae. Without proper movement, the intercostal muscles become tight, eventually leading to inflammation. Inflammation can lead to scar tissue formation, which prevents the muscles from expanding and contracting properly. This leads to restricted airflow and further compresses the chest cavity.
To relieve the pain associated with pectus excavatum, doctors recommend wearing special garments or harnesses that allow the patient to lie down flat with minimal discomfort. One example is a garment called a thoracic support, which extends across the front and sides of the torso like a shirt. Another option is a steel bar that fits under the armpits and hooks into the shoulders. Both devices keep the breastbone straight, allowing the affected person to breathe comfortably without feeling uncomfortable or embarrassed.
Running is important for health and fitness, but it shouldn’t hurt! Don’t ignore any warning signs that you’re suffering from a serious condition. Talk to your doctor right away if you experience persistent pain or stiffness in the area of your chest.
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