Sunscreen & Sleep: Two Must Haves for Runners

Houston foot doctor discusses sunscreen when running in the sun
As it starts to get warmer here in Houston, TX, more and more runners will come out of hibernation. And all too many of us will forget to lather up the sunscreen, thinking the milder spring weather doesn't require us to protection for our nice long runs. But runners, beware! This thinking is completely flawed: even in the early spring, you need to coat your skin with broadband protection. Here's why: 

Runners and Sun Exposure: A Dangerous Combo

Did you know that there's a correlation linking runners with a higher risk of skin problems, including carcinoma, due to their prolonged outdoor exposure and due to that exposure's effect on the immune system. Also, sweat plays a factor in this dangerous equation, as it makes the skin more vulnerable to UV rays. Before going out for a run, protect your skin by applying a good coating of sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15 to your skin. You should get a waterproof or sweat-resistant lotion, so the protection doesn't wear off right as you're hitting your stride. And remember, the higher the SPF, the longer you can stay outdoors to run. And while you're checking out that SPF level, you'll also want to double check your sunscreen's fine print to make sure it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Then, and only then, will you know that your skin is safe for the duration of your run. But what about the rest of your body? That's where being well rested comes into the picture! 

Sleep is a Necessary Running Tool


Many runners have the bad habit of not getting enough sleep--they are often active individuals who have busy lives, and must either rise early or stay up late to sneak in those much-desired running session. But even runners need to make sure we get enough sleep. Sleep helps to restore our body and restore tissue that we broke down as we run in pervious training sessions. Without enough sleep, our bodies tend to feel groggier the next day. Sufficient sleep will allow us to be rejuvenated, putting more energy and care into our next run.

There is no magic number of hours of sleep, per se. Runners who are more active and accrue high mileage usually benefit from longer hours of sleep than those who are only weekend warriors. The amount of sleep that you need is dependent on your lifestyle and how your body functions. In order to get the right number of hours for you, experiment with different bed times and discover your body's optimal number.

As runners, we need to take care of our bodies because of our physical exertion. We need adequate sleep and we also need to make sure we protect our bodies from the sun by applying sunscreen that will resist our sweat and that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. By doing what is right for our bodies, we will be less susceptible to injury and disease.

Seeing some sun damage? Be sure to visit your dermatologist to get those spots checked out. For suspicious spots on the foot or ankle, we can evaluate and biopsy them at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston. So no excuses: take care of your skin and your body, and you just might be around long enough to check off all the items on your runners' bucket list! 

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.