For those who exercise regularly or even intermittently, bodily itching can become a real problem. For some, it can be a mild nuisance. For others, it can force them to stop in the middle of their workout and scratch their entire body.
There are multiple causes, both natural and artificial. If you pay attention to when the itching starts and how long it lasts, you can get ahead of the itching and stop it before it starts. Keep reading to discover our top tips for getting rid of itching before a workout.
There can be multiple causes for bodily itching before or during a workout. However, if you don’t take pre-workout, chances are you experience what is commonly called “runner’s itch”. It usually occurs in the middle of a workout and is mostly felt in the legs.
You might think the itching is coming from something irritating your skin, but this isn’t the case. It’s actually a sign that your circulatory system is doing its job. When you run or walk long distances, nerves, sweat glands, and blood vessels, all work together to move blood throughout the body and get oxygen to your muscles and your brain. Those nerves on your skin that are hyperactive can create a tingling or itching sensation.
Although the process is perfectly natural, there are ways of lessening or preventing it:
- Always Wear Clean Workout Clothes
This tip might seem like common sense, but some people make the mistake of thinking that they can wear the same clothes a few days in a row because they “didn’t get THAT sweaty”.
However, the more sweat and dead skin an article of clothing accumulates, the more likely it is to clog your pores and cause itching. Always wear a fresh outfit when you exercise and wear loose-fitting clothes whenever possible.
- Stay Hydrated
If you are regularly dehydrated, your blood can thicken and have a harder time moving throughout your body. This extra strain can tax your circulatory system when you exercise, resulting in itching.
Always remember to drink plenty of water and electrolytes before and after you exercise. Drinking enough water will keep your blood flowing so your brain and muscles get all the oxygen they need.
- Exercise More Frequently
Although you may never be able to fully prevent the runner’s itch, you can decrease it by simply working out more. If your circulatory system grows accustomed to the increased activity, your nerves, blood vessels, and sweat glands will be able to handle more stimulation and not get irritated.
Simply put, you are training your body to raise your body’s threshold for stress. The fitness industry would call this “training for endurance”.
Itching From Pre-Workout
While some identity with their legs itching during or after a workout, others often have a completely different experience. Another common experience is feeling itching before a workout around your neck and ears. Some say this itching lasts anywhere between 15 minutes to a whole hour. If you share this experience, it’s likely due to the ingredients in your pre-workout.
So, does pre workout make you itchy? In short, yes and no.
Not every pre-workout formula can cause itching. In fact, researchers have discovered it’s caused by a very specific amino acid: beta-alanine. Most pre-workout brands contain beta-alanine because it improves muscle performance and increases energy.
The Science of Beta-Alanine
The reason you’ll find beta-alanine in so many pre-workouts is that it increases the body’s carnosine levels. Carnosine is stored in your skeleton and is released during normal exercise to reduce fatigue and lactic acid. Sounds great, right?
While increased carnosine is great for enhancing your performance, increasing it artificially does have its side effects. What doctors call “acute paresthesia” can show up as numbness, tingling, or even a burning sensation due to overstimulating nerve endings.
Tips for Getting Rid of Itching
All this information might seem discouraging but don’t worry. You don’t have to stop taking pre-workouts altogether to stop the itching. There are a number of ways to take pre-workout while reducing your intake of beta-alanine.
- Quitting Beta-Alanine Cold Turkey
If you want to avoid the itch altogether, there are plenty of ore-workout brands that don’t have this ingredient. Pre-Lab Pro, Gorilla Mode, and 4 Gauge are all brands that don’t add beta-alanine to their powders. This is an ideal solution for those who are more sensitive to beta-alanine than others.
- Spreading Out Your Doses
For some who are less sensitive to beta-alanine, the physical results they get from taking the pre-workout are worth it. In that case, simply splitting up your dosage can be enough to lessen the itching.
If you mix your powder in a water bottle, drink a 3rd before, during, and after your workout rather than drinking it all at once beforehand. This simple change can decrease the itching sensation to a tolerable level.
- Find a “Sustained-Release” Pre-Workout
Pre-workout retailers are always looking for ways to improve their formulas. Once researchers discovered that beta-alanine was the itching culprit, companies started tweaking their ingredients to improve their customer’s experience.
Out of that came “sustained-release” beta-alanine. Now, the effect of the amino acid is a slow burn throughout your workout rather than an intense wave of energy at the beginning.
Choose the Solution that Works for You
If you find that the itching you experience during exercise isn’t natural, it doesn’t mean you have to cut out pre-workout completely and change your entire routine. Fitness is a lifelong journey, and no two people’s journeys are alike.
There are plenty of formulas you can experiment with. Don’t be afraid to try out different formulas to see how your body reacts. Sometimes it’s as easy as lowing the amount of beta-alanine you take, while others will have to cut it out altogether.
However, no matter what your particular needs are, don’t sacrifice your peace of mind by thinking you have to put up with numbness, tingling, and itching before every workout. Exercise is just one aspect of living a long, full, and happy life.