Is Your Face Red Post-Workout? That's Inflammation + Here's What To Do About It
Ray Bass is the associate movement and wellness editor at mindbodygreen and a NASM-Certified Personal Trainer. She holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Pennsylvania, with honors in nonfiction.
If you’ve ever done a strenuous workout—you know, the kind where you push yourself and feel that rush of accomplishment—chances are you’ve rolled up to the mirror afterward looking sweaty and red-faced. And if you really went for it during your workout, you might still look red even after you’ve showered. Ever wonder why that is?
Believe it or not, that post-workout redness is a form of inflammation. But it’s not the chronic, unhealthy kind per se. Let’s break it down a bit.
Why does working out vigorously cause inflammation?
Working out at a high intensity tears itty bitty holes in our muscles—and as we recover, those holes heal and we become stronger. But during that post-workout and recovery period, our muscles are technically inflamed.
“Inflammation is your body’s way of working to repair damaged tissue,” says Will Cole, D.C., IFMCP, a functional medicine expert and mindbodygreen Collective member. “While this is an essential and normal process, overexercising without a break doesn’t allow your body enough time to repair itself between workouts, and that can contribute to ongoing inflammation.”
So why does my face turn red?
According to Dr. Cole, when we exercise, our blood vessels dilate in order to allow blood to pass through our body more quickly and supply our muscles with oxygen. This process also moves the extra heat that we generate while exercising to the surface of our skin.
As for the red hue we see on our face—that’s actually heat trying to escape our bodies. And the more superficial blood vessels we have on our face, Dr. Cole notes, the more likely we are to experience facial redness after a workout.
Help! What do I do?
For those of us who experience facial redness on the reg, there are some easy remedies to calm our skin after a workout. Dr. Cole recommends utilizing cool-downs and periods of stretching after an intense workout to rebalance your body. The best way to recover from redness would be to get into a cold shower in order to constrict your blood vessels.
And just like that—poof! The redness will start to subside! If it takes a few hours, that’s okay; try to give yourself a break. You just slayed your workout and your body needs to recover. That redness is a badge of honor! (And seriously, it’ll go away soon).
Ray Bass is the associate movement and wellness editor at mindbodygreen and a NASM-Certified Personal Trainer. She holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Pennsylvania, with honors in nonfiction. A runner, yogi, boxer, and cycling devotee, Bass searches for the hardest workouts in New York (and the best ways to recover from them). She's debunked myths about protein, posture, and the plant-based diet, and has covered everything from the best yoga poses for chronic pain to the future of fitness, recovery, and America's obsession with the Whole30 diet.