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Why do I see ‘stars’ after lifting?

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You’ve done your work at the gym, you’re feeling pumped, but you’re starting to see ‘stars’ in front of your eyes. These spots of light can sometimes lead to dizziness and utter confusion. You begin to wonder if there might be something wrong with you.

How does it happen?

White spots are triggered by pressure. People frequently experience these when they sneeze or cough really hard. Strenuous exercise causes pressure too. Picking up heavy weights and doing deadlifts is where it usually happens. It may also occur when one holds their breath for a longer while or when the blood pressure suddenly changes. The issue can escalate and some lifters experience temporary (short-term) blindness during intense training.

Blood pressure changes as a cause for white specks of light needs to be further explored. A lot of things that you do may lead to this, starting with an ordinary change of body positioning. Also, you might be wearing tight wraps around your joints or midsection for support. These prevent normal blood flow and often modify the blood pressure, too.

How to prevent seeing ‘stars’?

To prevent seeing ‘stars’ a first step to remember is to breathe regularly. This isn’t always easy to do when you’re lifting heavy weights. When you do get the chance to breathe, make sure it’s a deep breath. Seeing light spots is a sign that your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen. This is not to say that, for example, wearing a belt is bad. Problems occur when the belt is too tight or stays on for too long. Also, when you spend too much time in the same position, it affects blood pressure.

Any sort of pressure can have an influence on your eyes and especially the retina. This is a sensitive area and responds to many subtle fluctuations. This is why you’re seeing light spots or strange colors at times. The symptoms disappear once the pressure is back to normal. Help yourself by standing up slowly and not suddenly. Breathe deeply and relax, because being scared about it will only make it worse. Don’t continue your reps right away, but take your time until the lights disappear.

High blood pressure tends to spike every time one lifts. If you know you have it (if not, do a check), become aware of it and take precautions. Medication may be necessary in order to keep it under control. Having a condition worsens the unusual symptoms during and after lifting. When you’re healthy, it’s normal to feel a bit dizzy or to have your vision affected with every big rush of blood to the upper part of the body. Listing heavy weights with your arms prompts the blood to go towards your head, which is why you’re experiencing the added pressure and its effects.

Summing up

Seeing ‘stars’ is usually no big issue, especially as it tends to go away quickly. Bodybuilders are aware of it. However, if you’re feeling faint or experiencing vertigo and frequent black outs, it is time to consult a physician.

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