Do you experience odd exercise-induced niggles? We explain why some of the most common problems occur and how you can get around them

Your exercise to feel good, but sometimes your workout sessions can leave you feeling a little rough. Nausea, shakiness or creaky joints after working out aren’t uncommon, but you don’t have to endure these side-effects. We’ve asked the experts to reveal the physiology behind six of the most common complaints, and what you can do to ease the symptoms.

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No More Workout Woes

Why does my back crack when I do sit-ups?

It’s surprisingly common for backs to make ‘cracking’ noise during sit-ups. As long as you don’t have any pain, there’s no reason to fear you have a back problem. However, full sit-ups aren’t very back-friendly. ‘Sit-ups place too much load on the lower back, and emphasize muscle imbalances in the trunk,’ says Chris Newman, senior physiotherapist at Nuffield Health. ‘By training only one muscles group, you prevent the other muscles in the back from providing balanced support to the spine.’ Swap sit-ups for core exercises, such as planks, to work your whole body.

Why do I feel shaky after a workout?

You muscles need glucose for energy, and a drop in blood sugar levels can lead to jitteriness. ‘Have a small, high-quality carbohydrate snack an hour before working out, to regulate blood sugar and prevent your body from drawing fuel from your sugar stores,’ says women’s health specialist Dr. Marilyn Glenville. Vigorous exercise can place too much stress on your body, causing the release of cortisol and adrenaline. This stimulates your body further and can lead you to ‘crash’ into low blood sugar more quickly, so Glenville suggests that you give calmer forms of exercise a go.

Why do my feet tingle on cardio machine?

If you experience tingling or numbness in your feet when you’re on the cross-trainer, bike or rowing machine, don’t panic. ‘Your trainers are probably too tight, so buy shoes half a size too big to allow your feet to expand,’ says PT Dan Roberts. ‘Tingling can also occur if you keep your feet still for a long time, so wiggle them regularly and adjust your foot position every couple of minutes.’ If you still get persistent tingling, visit a podiatrist to rule out nerve damage or compartment syndrome, both of which can usually be solved with orthotics and rest.

Why do my knees crunch during squats and lunges?

It’s not unusual to hear crunching when you do knee-related exercises. ‘Crunching, or crepitus, is the sound your knees make when the joint surfaces move over each other and, as long as there’s no associated pain, it doesn’t have any clinical significance,’ says Newman. ‘The noise is created by a muscle imbalance in the knee, or tension on the outer structures of the joint, such as your iliotibial band.’ If you do have pain, see a physiotherapist. Alternatively, keeping your quadriceps and hip muscles flexible can help reduce the sound.

Why does my skin itch during exercise?

Description: To exercise safely, always start slowly and gradually build up intensity, frequency and duration. Always remember to stretch after your workout

To exercise safely, always start slowly and gradually build up intensity, frequency and duration. Always remember to stretch after your workout

Exercise can bring on allergic reactions, such as anaphylaxis or urticarial, which arise when increased body temperature and sweating causes the body to release histamines. Sufferers may develop hives, and feel itchy and irritated by their clothing. ‘To lessen symptoms, take antihistamines,’ says Glenville. ‘Or, for an effective, natural approach, try a Quercetin supplement with anti oxidising bioflavonoids to help minimize reactions.’

Why do I ache on the second day after a workout?

Exercising stresses your body, causing your muscles to tear. As they adapt to these stresses and heal, you get stronger. ‘The most painful part of the healing process (DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) occurs 24 to 48 hours after training, in the final stage before muscles grow back stronger,’ says Roberts. Stretching and massage often relieve symptoms, but DOMS tends to be less painful the more you train.

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