It has been about two and a half years since I first wrote about my plight with itchy legs when engaging in certain exercises. Today it’s time for an update.
My original solution to ending itchy legs after walking or running was to take certain antihistamines prior to exercise. In the years since writing that article, I’ve come to some conclusions which have made me search for additional solutions.
- Sometimes even when I take an antihistamine, my legs still itch.
- Not everyone thinks far enough ahead to take an antihistamine 30-60 minutes in advance of exercise.
- Antihistamines can lead to drowsiness, which is not optimal for exercise.
I’ve tried applying lotion before a walk, shaving my legs, wearing various types of material, and wearing short-shorts (I felt like I was back in the 1980s). I also tried varying my walks to allow for periods of rest, but it seems that once the itching begins, the amount of time to “reset” my legs is longer than I want to wait during a walk.
Because the antihistamine cure seemed hit-and-miss, I kept searching for other ways to alleviate the problem. I have since come up with two solutions – one short-term, and one long-term.
Long Term: Slowly Increasing Distance
A doctor suggested to me that the itchiness is due to my being “unfit.” That didn’t mean I was out of shape necessarily, but my body – particularly my legs – are not conditioned to handle the vibration and impact of walking or running. Instead of going for a 5-mile run after a six-month hiatus, try walking or running very small distances, and slowly increase the distance over time. This will condition your legs and in many cases it will end the itchiness.
Short-Term: Topical Anti-Itch Lotion
One caveat: This is NOT a long-term solution. Applying an anti-itch lotion such as Caladryl to your legs before a run may reduce or eliminate the itching. I only recommend this on occasion, such as a last-minute run in the days or weeks prior to conditioning your legs as outlined above.
In my case, I decided to take small walks every day, and slightly increase the distance every few days. Sometimes when attempting a new distance, I would apply Caladryl to my legs first. I soon found that I could go longer distances before the itching set in. During the first week, I could barely walk a half mile before my legs turned to fire, after a week or two I could easily walk double that distance before the itching began. To me, this was proof positive that you can condition your legs over time to overcome itchy legs when you walk or run.
I now take walks almost every day, sometimes as long as 3 miles, and experience no itching at all. If I go a few weeks without walking, the itching comes back.
Have you found any solutions to itchy legs when walking or running? Drop us a comment below!
Read my original 2010 article here.