Running is already a mental challenge, and if you add the annoyance of itchy legs or feet into the mix, your motivation can go downhill fast. If you've just taken up running and find your legs start to itch when you run, you may have to buck up and wait it out -- some of it may be due to increased blood flow from the exercise that you're not used to yet. If you've been running for a while and continue to experience itchiness, you may be overlooking a few common issues that tend to plague runners.
Drink plenty of water. If you're itching because your skin is dry, you'll need adequate hydration both inside and out. The body can lose a quart of water during an hour of exercise, reminds the American Council on Exercise, so be sure you're drinking 17 to 20 ounces an hour before your run and 7 to 10 ounces every 10 to 20 minutes during your run. Then drink a sports drink to replace sodium after every hour of exercise.
Take care of your skin. If it's dry, use a moisturizing lotion that's free of dyes and perfumes which can irritate your skin further. Better yet, use a moisturizer with sunscreen, which will protect your skin from further sun damage. "Runner's World" recommends a product that is free of oil, lightweight and blocks both UVA and UVB rays, also called a broad-spectrum sunscreen. If your skin is more irritated or itchy when you use the sunscreen or lotion, talk to a dermatologist.
Shower after your workout and towel yourself dry. There's a chance you are itching from a form of jock itch, which is essentially an overgrowth of fungus. The best course of action is to keep your skin clean and dry, recommends Mayo Clinic. If the itching is due to heat rash, it's also alleviated by drying and cleaning your skin.
Check your clothing. If you're wearing clothing that is too loose or too tight, it could be causing chafing that is causing you to itch. Sweaty clothing and shoes can also be a breeding ground for athlete's foot and jock itch. Wear clean clothing to the gym and place your shoes in an area where they can dry out after use.
- Talk to your doctor if you have any type of rash or prolonged irritation. It could be a sign of an allergy or other persistent skin problem.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.