I exercise every alternate day - which means 7 times a fortnight. I mix it up ever so often, but I generally do a mixture of about 45 minutes of cardio (either a run at >10.5 or intervals on the elliptical at l8), plus about 20-25 minutes weights plus static.

This pattern has been pretty constant for the last 6 years - I consider myself relatively fit and healthy. However, I've noticed in the last couple of years that I've been getting bruises on my arms and legs. it's about 4-5 on the left leg and 2-3 on the right - mostly on the calves. And recently a few on my upper arms.

The spots vary in colour day-to-day, from pink to light brown to purple, and I am quite fair so it shows. When I press on them, they will disappear for a bit, and then reappear.

Besides the aesthetic unpleasantness, I am wondering how common these are. I am guessing they are capillary bursts - but does anyone have anything similar? It doesn't appear to be a skin condition, and I know definitely that they aren't the result of bumps. And does anyone know how they happen? My guess is that perhaps they happen when I exert myself while running/weight-training.


  • Great question, and welcome to Physical Fitness! I'm wondering if this question is edging too much towards medical rather than fitness. I've suggested a new title - "How often does running or weight lifting cause capillary bursts?" - I think it would help make the scope of the question more fitness-orientated rather than medical.
    – andrewb
    Commented Sep 13, 2013 at 8:56
  • 9
    Go see a doctor. Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 5:28
  • Is it possible with your calves that you are kicking yourself whilst running? Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 19:44
  • Have you had any recent illnesses or changed diet? Increased bruising can be a sign of certain nutritional deficiencies. It's possible that it could be caused by exercise alone, but I would expect it to be more widespread in that case. I would second the recommendation to get a consultation with a medical practitioner.
    – JohnP
    Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 21:52
  • @all, my family doctor tells me it's nothing to worry about - says everything looks normal. the diet change might be a reason, but I guess I was hoping it might be a common problem with a more concrete answer!
    – sccs
    Commented May 14, 2014 at 6:41

4 Answers 4


This article claims that broken capillaries can very much be expected from intense exercise:


When the capillary walls contract and expand too quickly, the muscles in the wall tear and allow blood to seep through. Repeated dilation from hot water/showers, microdermabrasion, spicy foods, alcohol, intense exercise, or genetics leave these capillaries permanently dilated.

As for avoiding broken capillaries, you could avoid exercising, but this would probably not be satisfactory for you. Instead, try to see if your bruise areas are the result of any contact during exercise. If so, can you eliminate that contact? Are you changing temperatures suddenly (e.g. going from air conditioning to hot and humid outdoor conditions)? The article I gave is a good starting point to get you thinking.

  • The vasodialation that causes tingles in untrained legs works the same way. Pressure in the capillaries pokes and prods nerve endings.
    – Eric
    Commented Dec 3, 2017 at 16:11

I may be able to throw some light on the calves, but not the upper body. It is possible that when you are running, that as your foot comes through, you are kicking your other calf. I do this myself sometimes. If the bruises are always on the inside of the calves. I think this could be your answer.

You wouldn't necessarily be aware that you are doing it, as it's lots of small kicks over the period of the run. Since I've known I do it, I am sometimes aware of it when I run, but normally not.

Although, I'm not sure about the ones on your arms.


Are you exhaling as you lift and not straining? I'm assuming yes as you've been lifting for years. Either way that wouldn't cause it...

Besides older adults I don't see that often. Are you taking any NSAIDs before or after you life? they don't allow your blood to coagulate - resulting in bruising. Can happen as you age or could be an underlying auto-immune disease (such as vasicitius) etc..


This most commonly is due to flushing of skin and this is a form of hypersensitivity or allergic reaction due to exercise.

Physical activity can cause allergic symptoms in some people. The symptoms are hives or spots (large or small), itching of the skin, flushing (redness) of the skin and this can occur anywhere on the body other than the chest area.

Most symptoms can be controlled by taking medications your physician prescribes and by slowing down or stopping your exercise as soon as symptoms start. You should always exercise with a partner who knows about your condition.

In some people, eating certain foods before exercise may make allergic symptoms more likely to occur. Keep track of what you eat before exercising for few weeks.

You can try some antihistamine or epinephrine shots. Discuss with a physician who will follow up on your condition.

Ref: small red like blood spots in skin after exercise

  • You do know your reference is anecdotal at best, right?
    – rrirower
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 21:09
  • Yes, it is a Medical Physician's writing, just wanted to share.
    – bantandor
    Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 9:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.