Does your chest hurt when you run? Would you like it to stop hurting?

There can be a lot of reasons for chest pain, and any time you have experience it (especially during exercise) then you should probably visit your doctor to make sure that nothing serious is going on. Your doctor will be able to help you rule out any possibly fatal problems and will help you determine if you need to be concerned about engaging in strenuous activity or not.

Your doctor will check your cholesterol levels, your blood pressure and will run some simple tests to diagnose an angina.

If you have been cleared by your doctor as healthy or would like to try a simple self-remedy to alleviate the pain, then you may just need to change your breathing habits.

Most runners breath in and out through their mouth when they are running, which lets you exchange a lot of air very quickly. Unfortunately, this can be counter-productive to your goals of working out by actually reducing the oxygen levels in your blood. When we start to hyperventilate, our arteries constrict which reduces the flow of blood to our brain and other vital organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys. This can lead to hypoxia, which is low oxygenation of the brain.

Track RunnersIf you breath in through your nose, though, then you will be able to utilize the nitric oxide produced in your nasal passages to help dilate your blood vessels and increase the amount of oxygen available throughout your body. This has an additional benefit of filtering some of the pollutants in the air before it can make its way into your bloodstream to be distributed through your body.

If you find that your chest is regularly hurting when you run but doesn’t hurt at other times, then try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. This will help you clear any stale air that is trapped in your lungs, get your breathing under control, and will provide the necessary oxygen that your muscles need in order to continue working at the intensity you want to exercise at.

A strategy that you can try to help you get used to the in through the nose and out through the mouth breathing process is to try breathing in for 4 steps and out for 4 steps. By concentrating on your breathing and counting your steps, you’ll find yourself in a rhythm that is easy to maintain.

(Photo Sources: oedipusphinxJamil Soni Neto)