Running – and exercise in general – is a great way to enhance your body’s overall health. Running on a regular basis improves circulation, burns calories, decreases the chance of osteoporosis, encourages better sleep patterns, boosts the immune system and much more. However, not all side effects of running are healthy.
If done improperly, running can be bad for your hair’s health. Read on to learn about what causes hair loss for runners and how to prevent (or reverse) this condition.
What Causes Hair Loss
There are two types of hair loss – permanent and temporary hair loss. Permanent hair loss is generally believed to be brought about by a genetic predisposition. Temporary hair loss is usually caused one or more lifestyle choices.
Poor nutrition is the top cause of temporary hair loss. Runners who exercise regularly without regard to their nutritional needs can inflict maximum damage to their hair’s health. This is especially true of runners who exercise for weight loss. Combining excessive exercise with limited caloric intake means the body uses up necessary vitamins and nutrients faster than they get replenished.
Female athletes are at a higher risk for iron-deficiency anemia than their male counterparts. One of the main side effects of iron deficiency is hair loss. In fact, some patients even report loss of eyebrows and eyelashes.
Chronic stress is the second most common cause of temporary hair loss. Again, exercise can be good for the body. However, excessive exercising can be unhealthy; it puts the body in a state of chronic stress.
A salty buildup on the scalp can lead to thinning hair. This buildup happens when sweaty hair is not cleaned in a timely fashion. Using dirty, sweaty hats over and over will also activate hair loss.
Also, hair loss is a result of excessive pulling or tugging. Tight, restrictive hairstyle like ponytails, pigtails, braids, or cornrows can literally pull the hair right out of the scalp.
How to Prevent or Reverse Hair Loss
Your body prioritizes the distribution of nutrients based on the body parts’ needs. All your vital organs get what they need first; any leftover nutrients are then shared with hair, skin, and nails.
In order for your hair to get the nutrients it needs, you need to eat plenty of nutrient-rich foods. Hair thrives on nutrients like folate, beta carotene, iron, biotin, zinc, vitamins B and C, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein.
In order to hang on to your hair, you must find ways to let go of stress and relax. Everyone has different stress management techniques; find one that works for you.
Running on a regular basis, traversing great distances, and training intensely can really stress a body out. Make sure you take all the necessary steps to counteract that stress by doing things like stretching properly and getting plenty of sleep.
Show your locks some love. Rotate and wash head coverings regularly. Wash with a mild pH-balanced shampoo once a week and use a protein-rich conditioner. Limit the use of curling irons and blow dryers as heat damages hair. Lastly, forgo tight, restricting updos for a looser option.
The condition of your hair is often a reflection of your overall health. Make sure your running routine is enhancing your overall health instead of hindering it. Take care of your body and you’ll hang on to your hair.