This summer, I picked up on jogging, originally just for the fun of it. I have horrible endurance and I run out of breath quickly so the first few times were not so pleasant. But the more I jogged, the more I felt myself improve and I got a bit hooked on to going for a run after work. One fine evening, I went out for a quick run near a small lake and I noticed that my lower shin started to itch on both legs. I sat down by a bench and just couldn’t stop scratching it! I thought it must be some allergies from the plants. The itchiness was intense and persisted for a good few days before it subsided. It felt like mosquito bites all over my lower leg, but when I look at it, my legs look fine. No rashes, no abnormal spots, no redness. Just my skin.
When the itch disappeared, I avoided that path and jogged in an open area on the streets. The itchiness came right back and this time, it was my entire lower leg, all the way up to my knees. Evidently, I started to freak out! What is wrong with me? The itch became so unbearable that I couldn’t sleep! I told a few of my colleagues and they insist I wear something long to cover my legs, but my gut feeling is that this was triggered by merely jogging, and not from allergies. There is no reactions on my leg. This is something from the interior and not the exterior. I tried a few anti-itching creams and nothing worked. My mom ensured me that my legs were just dry. Well.. of course not! Dryness can cause itchiness, but not to this extent! I wanted to scratch until it hurts; I even wanted to chop my legs off. Nobody could really relate to it. One thing I have noticed is that after a hot shower, the situation intensifies… to the point where I want to cry.
I did some research online and good thing I am not alone! Apparently, it is called “The Runner’s Itch”. Apparently in some less fit people, small blood vessels called capillaries in the legs are closed off. When they start to undergo leg-demanding exercises, such as jogging, the capillaries dilate to enable blood flow to the legs. This sudden dilation triggers surrounding nerves, which the brain then interprets the sensation as itchiness. The more these people run, the more the capillaries remain open and the condition will solve on its own. This confirms that my situation has nothing to do with allergens so I was happy with that. But I must say that I don’t entirely agree with this theory. I have played basketball on a regular basis, I have jogged before in the past, and this was the first time I encountered this problem. I am sure these “capillaries” have dilated before, especially when my legs were completely DONE after a long basketball game. So I asked Google again and looked more into it.
Another explanation suggests that it is more the vibration that comes with jogging on asphalt that causes this sensation. This is less apparent when jogging on a treadmill, but there is something about the unbalanced ground that the legs are not used to. This is not obvious with sports because it does not require continuous motion. The legs run, and stop, run and stop, which gives it time to recuperate. This was more accepting to me because … c’mon, I am not unfit! ;)
I decided to test this 2 days ago so I ran on my treadmill. Lo and behold, they started to itch a bit, but it was not nearly as bad. I can’t decide whether my capillaries are “staying opened”, or because it is really the vibration outdoors. Perhaps it is a combination of both. Is this the punishment from my body for being unfit??? Do I really have to keep jogging in order to suppress the itch? I was going to join a 5K or 10K marathon next year and I hope after a long winter, I won’t have to deal with the aftermath of jogging again when summer comes around.
Has anyone ever dealt with a similar odd problem such as this when it comes to jogging? Or if you have a solution, please let me know! I am still scratching :(