Trail Running and Lyme Disease: how to stay safe on the trails and avoid lyme disease

Tips for trail runners to avoid Lyme Disease.

Tips for trail runners to avoid Lyme Disease.

I have partnered with Dartmouth-Hitchcock to bring you a series of stories that highlight the care and services they bring to New Hampshire. Our personal experience with the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock has formed my opinions of DHMC, and I am incredibly grateful to the amazing doctors, nurses and staff there who have helped our son, Jack. You can read more about our personal experience at DHMC here.

Heading to the trails is a great way to switch up your running routine. Not only is it a nice change of scenery, but the varied terrain is beneficial for strengthening those stabilizer muscles that are used minimally when running on the road. It’s also a great way to build leg strength and foot speed as you run over rocky and sometimes steep terrain.

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But running on the trails comes with risks, one of which is Lyme Disease. There’s been a recent rise in the number of reported Lyme cases in the state of NH and in many New England states. It seems that the deer tick population has exploded, and with it, the risk of acquiring tick-born illnesses. It is estimated that 60% of the deer ticks in New Hampshire carry Lyme Disease.

There are precautions you can take to prevent lyme disease and if the best preventative practices fail you, you should be aware of the symptoms. That way, you can get to the doctor in a timely manner to address the virus. Here are a few things that I do if I'm planning to hit the trails for a run:


If I'm planning a trail run I'll use a bug spray that contains DEET. In the past I've used all-natural bug sprays and continue to use those with the kids, but DEET is effective with preventing ticks. During tick season, this is the product I use when I'm in areas where ticks tend to be, like low bush and tall grasses.

Check for Ticks

Upon completing your run, it is essential to check for ticks. The most common place I've found them is behind the ears and in the hair. Showering after your run is also a chance to check further and can help flush un-attached ticks off the skin.

Remove the Tick

Removing the tick can be a bit tricky and you want to make sure you also remove the mouth parts that have attached to the skin. Use tweezers to grasp the tick and gently pull, making an effort to remove the entire tick. Once the tick is removed, wash the area with rubbing alcohol and flush the tick down the toilet.

Know the Symptoms

It's also important to be aware of the symptoms so that even if you don't find a tick on you, you can seek medical attention if necessary. What is often the case with Lyme disease is that the infected person doesn't see the tick or tick bite and becomes sick after the fact.

According to Dartmouth-Hitchcock these are the symptoms typically associated with Lyme Disease:

  • fatigue

  • chills

  • fever

  • muscle, join and headaches

  • a bullseye rash

Lyme can be a debilitating disease, but with preventative measures and quick action you can protect yourself against some of the harmful effects of the disease and ensure that you keep running the trails. You can find more information about Lyme disease and tick bite prevention from Dartmouth-Hitchcock epidemiologist Dr. Antonia Altomare, DO, MPH by clicking HERE.

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