Freaky Exercise Symptoms! Am I Normal?

Red face, dizzy head, shaking muscles: these are some common experiences during intense exercise that make you wonder, “What is happening and what should I do next?”

Red Face:  Red face is caused by an increase of blood flow to the face, visible based on ethnicity and facial skin thickness.  Two causes are a high heart rate or heat exhaustion, the inability to cool the body off. Monitor your heart rate and use the talk test (can you talk despite breathing heavily?) to see if you are working too intensely and monitor your environment to see if you are having problems cooling due to high humidity and/or temperature.

Dizzy Head:  Problematic if your heart rate is too high or you are dehydrated, but most likely you have changed position too quickly.  Venous blood supply (return of blood to the heart from your veins) works in opposition to gravity.  When you turn your position upside-down, the venous blood flow that was moving against gravity via blood pressure is suddenly assisted by gravity, and now is both falling and being pushed to the heart.  Your brain signals to your body “Too much blood, too fast!” and the subsequent dizziness makes you to pause, readjust heart rate/pressure/body position, and then proceed with your activity.  Called “Postural Hypotension,” this dizziness also occurs when you stand up too quickly and the heart wasn’t pumping hard enough to get the oxygen-rich blood to your head.  Dizziness from a position change occurs more frequently with age and the rate in which you change position.

Shaking Muscles:  If you are lifting a weight or holding a pose and suddenly the contracted muscle starts to tremor, the shake is caused by little organs in your ligaments and tendons telling you “If you don’t back off soon, I’m going to give out!”  Minor shake and muscle fatigue are normal: both are signals that the muscle is using all its metabolic resources and will grow stronger during recovery (after exercise).  Tendons connect muscle to bone and ligaments connect bone to bone.  Violent or excessive shake are signs the tendons or ligaments are about to be damaged and are attempting to prevent an injury that takes weeks to recover from.  Tendons and ligaments require a 4-6 week recovery because both have very low blood flow (cartilage, not muscle) and have high force demands required of them (any time the bone experiences a force or muscle contracts, they are recruited).  If you are shaking all over after exercise, drink and eat soon; you may be suffering a nutritional imbalance and should seek a doctor or dietitian for guidance.

What if you are missing Thirst and/or Sweat?  Lack of thirst or sweat can mean severe dehydration if you’ve been working out more than usual.  Thirst mechanisms occur at 3-5% dehydration but it will turn off merely because you have not responded by drinking more water; the same holds true for food and starvation.  Just because you stop eating and have “held-out” on hunger signals does not mean you no longer need to eat, the signal just gave out.    Monitor your intake with food journals and filling water bottles to drink over the course of the day as opposed to using your body’s warning signals as a guide.

If ever you are uncertain, seek advice.
I'm wishing you many successful, but less freaky, future workouts!

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