The reasons why certain strange symptoms occur—and when you should pay a visit to the doctor.
Triathletes expect—even welcome—the intense ways the body reacts to a tough training day: sore muscles, extreme hunger and excessive fatigue. But many also experience strange side effects—a rash after running, for example, or unending dizziness after an open-water swim. Dr. Michael Henrie, assistant professor of sports medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine, explains the reasons why these strange symptoms occur—and when you should pay a visit to the doctor.
Strange Symptom: Post-Workout Rash
An exercise-induced rash is typically caused by blocked sweat glands, a condition known as miliaria, in which red blotches appear and cause an itchy sensation. Though it’s not a serious condition, it can be uncomfortable. Henrie suggests wearing light, breathable clothing to avoid further aggravating the skin during exercise.
See a doctor if: Your rash doesn’t resolve after a couple days, if it continues to worsen with subsequent exercise or if the bumps are painful.
Strange Symptom: Shaky Legs
“Shaky legs generally occur as a result of muscle fatigue,” Henrie says. “This could be from too little sleep, dehydration, going to the extreme in a workout or doing too much, too quickly and too soon.” Though trembling is generally not a cause for great concern, it could lead to injury if it causes you to forgo good form and proper technique to compensate for the tremors.
See a doctor if: The shaking persists more than a few days after a workout, worsens or causes the muscle to “give out” during typical activities.
Strange Symptom: Swim Sneezes
Got a case of the ah-choos after Masters swim? Something’s in the water. “The nasal passage is lined with a mucous membrane that can become inflamed when it comes into contact with irritants such as dirty water or pool chemicals,” Henrie says. Treatments can be as simple as swimming at a different pool that uses gentler chemicals or rinsing the nasal passages post-swim with a saline solution.
See a doctor if: Sneezing is frequent or accompanied by nosebleeds.
Strange Symptom: Riding Reflux
“Exercise-related acid reflux, also called heartburn, is common,” says Henrie, who explains that acid reflux occurs at the junction of the esophagus and stomach. When cycling, you are in a front leaning position, which can encourage stomach contents to plunge forward and leak through to the esophagus. Most can dodge reflux by avoiding large meals in the three hours prior to exercise.
See a doctor if: Your heartburn is severe or occurs frequently. Any chest pain during exercise should be taken seriously—seek medical attention immediately.
Strange Symptom: Open-Water Vertigo
Dizziness after swimming is typically not concerning. Henrie says most cases are caused by water in the ear canal, and open-water swimming makes symptoms more pronounced because the water is colder. If symptoms occur frequently, try wearing earplugs. Dizziness can also occur due to dehydration, so make sure to up your fluid intake before swimming.
See a doctor if: The dizziness is constant or accompanied by headaches, stiff neck, and/or a sudden change in vision, speech or hearing.