Why does my chest hurt when I run?

+80 votes
asked May 22, 2015 in Health & Wellness by AzucenaCasas (470 points)
I always experience terrible chest pain when I run. It can’t be because I’m out of shape, because I exercise regularly. It becomes difficult for me to breathe and I get tired very quickly. I really need to figure out the cause of this chest pain.

2 Answers

+19 votes
answered Jun 24, 2015 by BusterSummer (390 points)

You should really see your doctor and get examined to find the exact reason. Here are some common causes of chest pain:

  • Intercostal muscles: The muscles between the ribs are called the intercostal muscles. When you exert yourself, especially when you’re outside and the temperature is low, the intercostal muscles and other muscles in the upper body can become tense and even get pulled or develop cramps. This manifests as a shooting pain in the chest. This pain is sometimes mistaken as a heart attack, but the sensation is quite different. A heart attack would feel like shortness of breath and a ‘squeezing’ sensation.
  • Breathing: As mentioned above, exertion in low temperatures can cause chest pain. This is because you are breathing in a lot of cold air very fast, and the air makes your lungs cold. Additionally, your lungs must work harder in the cold weather to obtain oxygen from the air. If you have a breathing condition such as asthma or pulmonary disease, it becomes even more difficult. You can develop these conditions without even being aware. If you notice a tight feeling in your chest while running, it may be time to take a break.
  • Heartburn: When some of the acids from your stomach are regurgitated into your esophagus, you may experience a burning sensation in your upper chest, or it may feel like there is a brick trapped inside you. This is known as heartburn. Heartburn can also lead to acid reflux if the stomach acid is regurgitated into your mouth. Running and other types of exercise increase your chances of getting heartburn, as you are shaking your stomach contents. Be careful not to exert yourself shortly after eating. If you experience this regularly, you may want to try a medication for indigestion, such as Gaviscon.
  • Stitch: A “stitch in the side” is usually described as felt lower on the body, but could be confused for chest pain, especially if it is closer to the ribs. Try pinching the affected area while running and see if the pain subsides.
  • Breast pain: If you are a female, the pain could be related to your breasts bouncing violently while you run. The breasts are very sensitive, so this can be painful and prevent you from enjoying your run. The best remedy for this problem is a tight-fitting sports bra to support your breasts and hold them in place. If your breasts are exceptionally sensitive during specific points in your menstrual cycle, you may want to consider augmenting your diet with primrose oil pills in the evening.
  • Chafing: The chafing of the nipples against clothing can be a problem for both men and women. There is special tape available to reduce the irritation. Be sure to find this special tape, as other types of tape could be painful to remove.
  • Angina: Chest pain associated with the heart is called angina, and there are many reasons for it. When you run, your aerobic system is pumping blood and oxygen throughout the body, meaning that your heart is working extra hard. If you have heart issues, they may be aggravated at these times. If your cholesterol is high, this can cause heart problems as well. Your heart must work even harder to move blood through your veins because of the plaque in your arteries.




+6 votes
answered Jul 2, 2015 by JonathonBrum (270 points)

Why does my chest hurt when I run? I think irritation of the diaphragm may be the reason behind the pain you are experiencing. The same nerves that innervate the diaphragm are also responsible for the muscles on top of your shoulders. Have someone watch you while you run and examine your posture. If you run with your shoulders elevated, the muscles in your chest and shoulders can become aggravated. The intercostal muscles, which are between the ribs, are also an area that can become especially irritated by poor running posture.

Another good idea is to slow down your workout. When you’re feeling pain, stop running and relax for a minute or two. The intercostal muscles near your ribs are working hard and becoming stronger as you use them. Stop exercising when you are feeling pain, and do not continue until the pain has subsided.

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