Tips for runners with sinusitis


Q: Any running tips for a sinusitis sufferer? I am enjoying the outdoor runs (C25K) at night with a friend, but my sinuses are flaring up from the cold even when I wear a thinsulate hat. Cheers! Lorraine

A: What a pain in the . . . nose. I had sinusitis once and was in agony; it stopped me from running completely, so hats off to you for persisting with your runs despite the discomfort.

Our sinuses are lined with a thin membrane that produces mucus, ordinarily swept along by hair cells and drained through a small opening into the nasal cavity. Sinusitis (also called rhinosinusitis) starts when this drainage system gets blocked, usually from swelling or inflammation caused by an infection or allergy, like a cold, flu or hayfever. Your head starts to hurt, you feel pressure and/or pain in your face, and thick mucus clogs your nose. The symptoms may clear on their own but often persist or return repeatedly. I do hope it’s not persistent in your case Lorraine.

But whether you are a repeat or long-term sufferer, or this is a one off, the good news is that exercise can help. A stuffed nose is made worse from lying down because our sinuses don’t have gravity working with them to drain the blocked cavities so movement of any kind is key.

Cardiovascular exercise in particular helps, because the release of adrenaline makes our blood vessels contract which ought to reduce the swelling in your sinuses. The increase in circulation effectively alleviates the pressure on our sinuses which makes for easier breathing.

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