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Chest Pain While Running

Rutuja Jathar Feb 20, 2020
Pain and pressure in the chest are one of the characteristic signs of an impending heart attack, which is why most people feel apprehensive about experiencing pain in this region. However, pain in the chest cavity could be caused by conditions that may not be of a cardiac nature. Learn the contributing factors behind chest pain in runners in this story.
Chest pain is often taken very seriously, as there are high chances of the pain being triggered by a cardiovascular condition. However, pain in this region could be attributed to medical conditions that could be cardiac, or non-cardiac in nature. For instance, pain arising from the chest cavity could be due to inflammation of the costal cartilage.
Rib injuries, infections that cause violent coughing, stress, anxiety, heartburn, etc., could be some of the contributing factors. Sometimes people complain of chest pain while running. While running or performing any kind of intensive exercises, the heart has to work harder for delivering more blood to the muscles.
The breathing rate also increases, as more oxygen is needed. The lungs need to work harder for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
If a person often experiences shortness of breath and pain the chest region while performing physical activities, it would be best to get a medical checkup done to rule out the possibility of cardiovascular problems or conditions of a non-cardiac nature.

Chest Pain in Runners

Pain in the chest in runners could be due to irregular breathing, or fatigued pectoral muscles. Occasionally, conditions such as heartburn or pressure by trapped gas may be mistaken for pain in the chest cavity. Amateur runners must ensure that they follow the right running techniques. It's always better to undergo a stress test, if the pain is persistent.

Texidor's Twinge

Texidor's Twinge, which is also known as Precordial Catch Syndrome (PCS), could be the reason behind chest pain in children and young adults. It produces a sharp pain in the chest while inhaling and exhaling (especially while taking long breaths).
PCS is usually mistaken for a heart attack. This pain lasts for barely 2 to 3 seconds. However, in some rare cases, it may last for about half an hour. There is no way of treating or curing PCS, neither are its causes known.

Angina Pectoris

Angina is caused when the heart is not supplied with sufficient oxygenated blood. While running, the restricted blood flow causes a sharp pain in the chest. Angina can be an indication of fluctuating blood pressure or an enlarged heart. As angina is a serious heart condition, it is very important to seek medical help immediately.


Not only running but any exercise that involves upper body workout can strain the heart muscle. A study revealed that amateur marathon runners could be at a risk of reversible inflammation of the heart muscle. The study revealed decreased function in some segments during the run. The runners who are not well-trained not well-prepared are more likely to be affected by inflammation.

Heart Attack

Some studies also suggest that marathon runners may be at an increased risk of suffering from heart attacks, as extreme endurance exercise such as marathons or iron man distance triathlons could cause structural changes to the heart, as well as the large arteries.
Sharp pain in the chest while running can be the symptom of a heart attack. The characteristic sign of a heart attack is the pain on the left side of the chest, that will radiate the arm, shoulder, or the neck. Accompanied symptoms may include perspiration and dizziness. In such cases, the person should immediately stop running and seek medical attention.

The Weather

Pain in the chest may be experienced by runners during winter. Because of the increased respiratory rate while running, a person constantly inhales the cool breeze into the lungs. To prevent this from happening, working out at the gym in the cold season is a better option.

Different Ways of Avoiding Chest Pain

  • Stretch your body before you start to run.
  • Use the gym instead.
  •  Do not exert yourself too much. If the reason for pain is exertion then jog instead of running.
For problems that seem to be related to the heart, it is safest to seek advice from a doctor. In the case of a heart attack, the doctor may perform a surgery. In minor cases, he may prescribe medicines and may give you advice about exercising.
Medical assistance may also be required for lung conditions, rib injuries, inflammatory conditions, etc., that may be the contributing factor for pain in the chest.
Exercising is a healthy habit, however, make sure you don't end up ruining your health through exertion. It is also better, if you consult a doctor in the early stages of chest pain itself. It is important to get the problem diagnosed and treated, before it worsens.
Disclaimer: This story is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.