Should you run the morning after you had too much to drink?
By Joyce Reyes-Aguila| Lead photo by Braden Collum/Stock Snap
Ever thought about running to help cure a hangover? Since it can be hard to run away from the effects of having too much alcohol in your system, can you instead run to help you deal with it?
Tried-and-tested ways to get over a hangover include sleeping for an entire day, eating, and taking a pain reliever, if necessary. Hangovers, according to The Mayo Clinic, are the “unpleasant signs and symptoms” that result when your “blood alcohol drops significantly and is at or near zero.” The Minnesota-based institution enlists fatigue, weakness, headaches, muscle aches, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, and mood disturbances as some of its symptoms.
Going for a run with a hangover is a popular and more proactive approach to deal with the effects of a heavy night, Martin Fritz Huber avers in his piece Should You Run with a Hangover? The writer learned from sports medicine physician and runner Dr. Jordan Metzl that while running can increase blood flow and clear toxins from the blood, extra precaution should be taken. Hangovers result in dehydration, and sweating it out through a run can further lower the body’s fluids and place anyone in higher risk of dehydration-related injuries such as cramping or muscle pulls.
Equating running to getting rid of alcohol in your system is a misconception Huber also addresses through the opinion of Dr. Matthew Barnes of New Zealand’s Massey University. According to him, exercise is not a significant catalyst in the body’s natural processing of alcohol, and only a “very small amount” of alcohol is excreted through breathing and sweating. Barnes also stresses that the alcohol ingested metabolizes overnight. This makes any post-drinking effect identifiable with the influence of alcohol, and not due to the presence of alcohol in the body. Like Metzl, Barnes underscores rehydrating to help eliminate toxins before deciding to go for a run.
“You simply cannot ‘sweat out’ a hangover,” sports medicine physician Damion Martins, MD tells AC Shilton at Runner’s World. Running leads to further dehydration, he says, that harms the body. The article explains that as a diuretic, alcohol pulls water from your blood plasma at first, and later (as you stay out later and drink more), extracts water from your brain—possibly preventing your organs from properly functioning. This results in hangover headache, drug and rehab center Cliffside Malibu chief medical officer Dr. Damon Raskin explains to Shilton. Since the brain doesn’t have enough water, it stretches the (cell) membranes, resulting in one of the many regrettable feelings one can get from drinking too much.
But what can account for the improved feeling of some who have tried the “drank too much, went for a run” routine? Raskin says that since people experience hangovers differently, we also metabolize alcohol differently. He added that an easy run may give anyone a slew of endorphins that can instantly and temporarily make them feel better.
Nevertheless, you are the most familiar with your body and its threshold, especially when you regularly run or exercise. If you need to rest, do so. Give the victory to your hangover and reward your body with a well-deserved rest that will help it recuperate for your next run. And if you should insist, drink plenty of water, and take it easy. You run at a slower pace and for a shorter period of time. Listen to your body, whatever you decide. After all, you are already experiencing the consequences of your actions. Learn from them as well.