September 09, 2020

Should You Be Concerned By Chest Pain From When Exercising?

If you’re experiencing chest pain during exercise such as running, you should take it seriously. The potential causes of chest pain during exercise can range from benign to potentially life-threatening. Here, we’ll outline the causes of chest pain during exercise and chest pain after exercising.

Why Do You Feel Chest Pain During Exercise?

There are many reasons why you may experience chest pain during exercise, and some are more serious than others. Here are some of the most common causes of chest pain when you’re exercising:

Heart attack

A heart attack occurs when your coronary arteries become blocked, causing your heart to lose oxygen. Without treatment, the muscle can die. A heart attack can cause pain in the jaw, back, chest, and other parts of the upper body. Although more common in older people to experience a heart attack while exercising, it can happen to anyone. If you have any of the symptoms described above, seek medical attention immediately.


Angina is a pain that stems from your heart due to a lack of blood flow to the heart. If this occurs, you may feel tightness, pain, or pressure in your chest. Angina is often mistaken for a heart attack, but if your symptoms resemble a heart attack, seek medical attention immediately. 

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

According to the American Heart Association, HCM is a common condition that can affect nearly anyone. It happens when the cells of your heart enlarge, causing the walls of the ventricles to thicken. This makes your heart work harder to pump blood. Symptoms include chest pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, and fainting. While some people experience no symptoms, others experience sudden cardiac arrest, so it’s important to stop exercising if you feel any symptoms.

Muscle strain and injuries

Muscle strains in the chest involve intercostal muscles, which help you breathe and stabilize your chest. The most common cause is overuse and symptoms of muscle strains in the chest include:

  • Sharp pain
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Pain while breathing
  • Difficulty moving the area
  • Trauma
  • Inflammation
  • Lung problems like asthma, and
  • Gastrointestinal issues

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What if You Feel Chest Pain After Exercising, Not During?

If you’re experiencing chest pain doing cardio, something isn’t right. Some of the reasons you’re experiencing pain after exercising can overlap with the reasons why you’re experiencing pain during exercise. Here are some of the most common reasons why you may experience chest pain after exercise:

  • Lack of conditioning. If you’re feeling chest pain after running and aren’t well-conditioned it could be because you’ve overdone your workout. 
  • Chest muscle cramps. Muscle cramps in the chest can cause tightness and pain after exercise. Muscle cramps happen for a number of reasons, but dehydration is the most common. 
  • Heartburn. If you eat fried or spicy foods before exercising, this can cause heartburn after you exercise. 

What to Do If You Experience Chest Pain

Anyone who experiences this pain should consult a healthcare provider about the best course of treatment. Some causes of chest pain can be severe.
Many people can prevent chest pain by making lifestyle changes and following a doctor’s treatment plan.

Prevent Chest Pain When Running or Exercising

Warming up with a walk, then easing your way into a relaxed running pace. If you’re having a hard time chatting, slow down. Heavy respiration during a run may be painful at first, but the strain typically goes away with consistent practice.

Learn More About Chest Pain and Exercise with Baptist Health

Chest pain during exercise can be caused by a variety of issues, some of which are more serious than others. If you’ve experienced chest pain while exercising and believe it may be associated with a heart condition, take a Health Risk Assessment today to learn more. 

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