If you love running outdoors, the dog days of summer can be a truly rough time, fam. You huff, you puff, you pant, and you ultimately turn into a soggy, drenched, exhausted version of the woman you used to be. But you keep lacing up your trusty sneaks and pounding the pavement anyway because, honestly, the "dreadmill" is not an option. To say that running is harder in the heat would be an understatement, but the real question is, why does it feel so much more difficult?
Interestingly enough, running outside in the summer, when the outdoor temperatures can sometimes soar well over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, doesn't just feel difficult for the obvious reasons: dehydration, overheating, major fatigue, etc. Yes, all of those things definitely play their own roles, but the heat can affect your body in even more ways that you've probably never even considered. After all, it's easy to get distracted by the waterfall of sweat cascading down your forehead every time you step outside for your run, and to assume that that alone is what's making your cardio feel so impossible to get through.
But according to Dr. Armin Tehrany, founder of Manhattan Orthopedic Care and honorary surgeon for the NYPD, the summer heat can wreak some serious havoc on your joints.
And that joint pain, Tehrany tells Elite Daily over email, might be the super sneaky reason why your summer runs feel so brutal. "Our joints have baroreceptors, which can sense changes in air pressure," he says. "When temperatures rise, our joints can feel an increased sensation of pain due to the change in air pressure, which ultimately causes our joints to tighten and stiffen." Ugh, I'm cringing just typing this, people.
This joint pain is especially important to be aware of, Tehrany says, for anyone who has a chronic health condition, such as arthritis. But really, he explains, even people with otherwise healthy joints might find that the higher temperatures are making it much more difficult to get through their outdoor runs.
And, as you might have guessed, hydration does play a role here, too. According to Tehrany, drinking plenty of water before and after your outdoor runs is crucial, not just for your energy levels, or to help you avoid passing out on the pavement, but again, for your body's joints.
"Our joint cartilage relies on water to function smoothly," he tells Elite Daily.
"Being dehydrated can lead to our joints having less lubrication, which can cause pain, inflammation, and discomfort," he says. Again, I'm low-key in pain over here just thinking about this, and I'm literally lounging in an air-conditioned room. People who can run outside in the summer blow my freaking mind.
Of course, I'm sure this goes without saying, but you need to chug that water if you want to stick to your outdoor cardio workouts, girl. Sipping on a huge water bottle throughout the day (every 15 minutes, if you can), as well as, ideally, before, during, and after your run, is of utmost importance when it comes to avoiding joint pain, and even more serious consequences of dehydration, like fainting.
According to Tehrany, when it comes down to it, staying cool and hydrated are the best ways to ward off this type of joint pain. Additionally, he tells Elite Daily, when you're not outside on your run, try to stay inside as much as possible so your joints (not to mention the rest of your body) have an opportunity to cool down, rest, and restore.
Tehrany also suggests scheduling your runs to coincide with the cooler parts of the day (aka the morning or evening hours). It might not seem like that big of a deal, but timing your run in this way can actually make a huge difference for your mind, body, and yes, your achey joints.
Finally, if you have a pre-existing, chronic health condition, Tehrany recommends keeping your doctor in the loop when it comes to your workout routine, as they'll be able to give you the best possible advice for staying safe during your runs.