Experiencing chest pain while running may concern you and negatively affect your fitness routine, and while it may not be related to your heart, it is important to learn what is causing this pain so you can prevent it. Make sure to check with your doctor if you experience any chest pain, as it may be a warning sign of a more serious condition.
Continue reading to learn about some of the potential causes of chest pain while running, as well as changes you can make to prevent this discomfort from occurring.
What causes chest pain while running
There are multiple causes of chest pain while you’re running, some of which include:
Stable angina: This usually occurs when the heart muscle does not receive enough blood flow and can feel like a tight, crushing, or squeezing pressure. This pain often occurs when the heart has to work harder, like during physical exercise, and should not last more than five minutes.
Rib muscle or intercostal muscle cramp: If you don’t warm up properly before going for a run in the cold, the muscles may suddenly seize and tighten, causing a cramp. This pain is described as sharp and shooting chest pain that is often mistaken for a heart attack.
Cold air: If you are running in the cold and experience chest pain, it may be because of your lungs. Cold air flowing into the lungs makes these organs colder and can result in pain.
Heartburn: This occurs when the stomach acid comes up into the esophagus, resulting in pain in the upper chest. Running may aggravate heartburn and cause chest pain because of the constant, jostling movement.
Breathing conditions: Asthma, pneumonia, and other breathing issues can cause chest pain while running, as your lungs are made to work harder. Another breathing condition known as Texidor’s Twinge can cause a sharp pain when you inhale deeply, as you often do while running.
Inflammation: Inexperienced runners may experience chest pain due to inflammation and strain on the heart muscle.
How to avoid chest pain while running
If a visit to your doctor has ruled out any potentially serious complications that your chest pain may be a symptom of, there are still a few ways to prevent and relieve this pain. Try to better regulate your breathing when running by breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, rather than just breathing through your mouth.
If you are running in cold temperatures, try wearing some kind of scarf or mask over your nose and mouth so the air is not as cold when it enters your lungs. You can also avoid this pain altogether by running indoors on a treadmill, away from the cold air. Also, ensuring that you stretch properly can prevent any muscle cramps from causing chest pain that can hinder your run. If you are experiencing chest pain while running, it may also be due to overexertion. Instead of running, try jogging and see how your chest feels.
Running is a great form of exercise to get your blood pumping, although it can sometimes come with an uncomfortable chest pain. If you experience pain in your chest when running, keep track of its severity and duration, and report this information to your doctor. Once any serious or underlying conditions have been ruled out, you may be able to prevent this pain from reoccurring by making some adjustments to your usual exercise routine. Making time to stretch, altering your breathing, and avoiding cold temperature may be the cure for that uncomfortable chest pain that strikes during your run.