Runners are a hearty breed of athlete. It should not surprise you to hear that often, runners will plan to complete their workout even if they’re sick. When discussing illnesses that impact the lungs, you should perhaps think twice prior to running with bronchitis, chest congestion or pneumonia.
Rule of Thumb for Runners
Most runners have an unwritten rule of thumb that helps them determine if they should run or take a rest day. That measure lies in where the sickness is. Typically, if your illness is just “in your head,” it’s okay to run.
That means a basic cold that the symptoms are just in your head. For example, runny nose, congestion, sinus pain, headache or a slight cough.
If the symptoms gravitate to the neck, things get a little more tricky. If it’s just a slight sore throat that may be caused by nasal drain, running may still be considered okay.
Once your symptoms hit your chest, most runners agree it’s time to either take a rest day or switch things up. Running is probably not a good idea at this point.
Is It Okay To Run With Chest Congestion?
Chest congestion is when mucus is accumulating in your lungs and bronchi, or lower breathing tubes. Usually accompanied by a wet and productive cough, you may find yourself bringing up phlegm. You may hear some wheezing when you breathe if you have chest congestion.
Even though it is tempting, running with a chest cold can end up with you having something more serious, like bronchitis or pneumonia. Be smart, be careful and listen to your body.
Home Remedies To Clear Up Chest Congestion
While you can’t make it go away, there are home remedies you can do to help work your way through chest congestion faster.
First, take in more clear liquids. Warm liquids in particular can prove helpful. Decaffeinated teas, such as herbal tea, warm apple juice and chicken broth are excellent choices on warm, clear (or semi clear) liquids to help you feel better.
Using a humidifier isn’t just for children. Since steam can clear up congestion, adding a humidifier to your night routine might help you sleep and breathe better. As we all know, getting solid rest is crucial to healing.
You can make yourself a steam-room by running hot water in your shower. You can just close the door and hang out in there for a bit to help open things up. Hint: have plenty of kleenex handy.
There is also evidence that local honey can help expedite your path to feeling better. Take a teaspoon of honey in your herbal tea, or just add to warm water if tea is not your thing.
What is Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is when the lining of your bronchial tubes gets inflamed. Acute bronchitis is just a really bad chest cold and usually takes care of itself with some time. For people who are prone to repeat bronchitis, it is called chronic bronchitis and can become more serious.
Is It Okay To Run With Bronchitis?
Acute bronchitis usually remedies itself in 3-10 days. If you listen to your body and rest for the first few days, using home remedies as mentioned above, you may be able to begin exercising quicker than if you had just powered through.
Knowing a nagging cough caused by bronchitis can hang on and linger for weeks, just plan to start slow and take it easy. This is not the time for challenging speed workouts and 20 mile runs. Running with bronchitis can actually make your symptoms worse if you don’t play your cards right.
How Long Does it Take To Recover From Bronchitis?
As stated before, most bronchitis clears up in 3-10 days. For some people, recovery is more complicated than that. The key to recovering and resuming normal activities really lies in listening to your body.
If you think you’re ready to run with bronchitis because it has been a few days of rest, maybe you’re ready. What that looks like is to take it slow. Maybe instead of a 5 or 6-mile run, try for 3 miles with walk intervals dispersed.
Perhaps running just isn’t in the cards and this is a good opportunity for you to take your dog for a brisk walk. Slowing things down and trying yoga is another great option while healing.
What Is The Fastest Way To Cure Bronchitis?
There is no magical fast cure. Let’s face it if there was, it would be bottled, patented and being sold far and wide. However, if you really want to get back on your feet again, follow the conventional wisdom of healing.
Allow your body to rest. Rest is a natural healer. Too often we see being busy as a sign of strength and accomplishment. Sometimes the best thing we can do is listen to our body.
Next, hydrate. When you think you have taken in enough clear liquids, drink some more. It’s the best way to flush the system.
Fuel your body with healthy foods while you recover. Sure, it’s tempting to be lazy and pick up fast food, but your body will thank you for fresh fruits and veggies.
When Bronchitis Becomes Pneumonia
While bronchitis is an infection in the bronchial tube, pneumonia happens when that infection is in one or both lungs.
Signs your bronchitis is pneumonia:
- Difficulty breathing
- Pain or feeling of weight on chest
- Bluish lips and/or fingernails
If your bronchitis becomes pneumonia see a doctor. Rest. Don’t even think about running.
When You Are Ready to Resume Physical Activity
When you feel ready to resume physical activity there are many things you can do that won’t tax you like running. Consider starting with something like yoga or gentle stretching.
Once you are doing fine with exercises such as that, go for a brisk walk or try non-impact cardio like elliptical or cycling.
Only after you have transitioned through some of these types of exercises should you try a more vigorous activity such as running. Although it is often hard to remember, taking a few days off at the most opportune time will actually have you back running in top form faster than if you try to power through when what your body needs is rest.