It’s tough having seasonal allergies when you’re a runner. This year, the Pollen Vortex, following the Polar Vortex, in DC has been particularly intense. I know it’s probably best to stay inside on the treadmill but it’s hard to resist being outside on beautiful spring Saturdays. My last two weekend runs haven’t gone great. The first week, my congested head made it feel like I was running with a bowling ball on my head and my eyes starting watering towards the end so much that I had to stop until I could see again. The second time I was much better but had to go at a slower pace because I’d get dizzy and/or out of breath easily. Annoying!
I get sinus infections twice a year like clockwork and usually get on a steroid and antibiotic. Last week, I had a different doctor in the practice who encouraged me to avoid the meds. I was nervous I wouldn’t get better and would have to return for the meds, so he did prescribe medication but I decided to take his advice. I’ve known taking antibiotics fairly often isn’t good for you; and the kind that works best for me is pretty strong and has a terrible side effect (1 in 20,000) of tendon rupture – scary!
I know I’m not going to feel better as quickly as I would with an antibiotic but I think this might be a healthier approach for me. And there are things I can actively do to help keep swelling down and my sinus passages clear.
1.) YOGA is great for relieving sinus pressure! There are some poses in particular that offer benefits for us seasonal-allergy sufferers. It is hard to get motivated to even exercise when your head feels so heavy and you just want to lay down. But, trust me. Downdog.
Pose One – Downdog
Pose Two – Bridge
Pose Three – Shoulder Stand (or Plow, if possible) to help unblock sinuses
2.) YOGA BREATHING. This is a special way to breathe and help get air moving through your sinuses. First hold one nostril closed and breathe in through the other nostril. Then switch so you are holding your other nostril closed (the one you just breathed in through) and let the air out through the other, now open, nostril.
3.) SALINE NASAL SPRAY. This feels amazing. Do this sitting or standing as much as possible to keep sinuses moisturized and keep swelling down. It also helps clear out pollen and other allergens from sticking to nasal passages.
4.) NETI POT. I am a big Neti Pot fan. It takes a little while to get the hang of it but it’s worth it. Instant relief. I try to do it at the end of the day and sometimes in the morning. Basically you use a little genie lamp thing to pour warm water (preferably distilled) mixed with a salt packet through one nostril and out the other. You tilt your head over the sink and the water should just stream out. This cleans out allergens and keeps swelling down, preventing infections.
5.) SUDAFED. Okay, a medicine but not an antibiotic or steroid. This definitely helps, especially when done with 1-4.
Overall, allergy season is not fun, especially when you want to be running outside. But there are simple, non-antibiotic ways to get relief from sinus pain and congestion that you can do almost anywhere!