Can You Workout with Costochondritis?

Can You Workout with Costochondritis?

Learn about the symptoms, causes, and treatments for this condition that can make working out very difficult.


Costochondritis is an inflammation of the cartilage or joints connecting the ribs to the sternum. This condition can cause pain and discomfort in chest area and make it difficult to breathe deeply. People who have costochondritis often wonder if they can do strenuous activities like working out and gym exercises.

Working with costochondritis depends on the severity of your condition and which type of exercises you are performing. It is important to choose activities that target the areas around your chest without causing further irritation or making the pain worse. Light exercise, such as walking, cardio and stretching, may be beneficial for relieving tension in your chest and helping reduce any discomfort from costochondritis. However, it is important to follow advice from your doctor before beginning any new physical activity or exercise plan while suffering from this condition.

What is Costochondritis?

Costochondritis is a condition that causes pain in the chest area due to inflammation in the cartilage that connects the ribs to the sternum. It can be caused by an injury or can result from an infection. People with this condition may experience chest pain, difficulty breathing, and tenderness in the area. Let’s take a closer look at Costochondritis and how it affects exercise and physical activity.


Costochondritis is a musculoskeletal disorder which causes inflammation in the chest area, specifically along the cartilage that connects the ribs to the sternum. The most common symptom of costochondritis is chest pain which often occurs in the middle of your chest. Pain is usually brought on by pushing, pulling or pressing against your chest and can occasionally cause sharp, stabbing sensations that are felt with deep breaths. Other symptoms may include tenderness to the touch, sharp pain near one side of your breastbone, difficulty breathing or elevated body temperature. In more severe cases, sufferers may experience fatigue accompanied by fever, difficulty moving their arms or pain when lying down flat on their back.


Costochondritis is an inflammation of the cartilage that connects your ribs to your breastbone (sternum). It is often caused by overuse or strain of the muscles and ligaments in the chest area, such as from vigorous exercise or physical labor. Other possible causes include injury from impact, infection, arthritis, or other medical conditions.

In some cases, costochondritis is caused by repetitive activities such as heavy lifting or vigorous exercise. In other cases, it can be caused by an infection like pneumonia or tuberculosis, or a disruption in growth of the rib cage during adolescence. It also can be linked to autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Costochondritis may also occur as a result of chest wall trauma from blunt impact injuries such as those seen with traffic collisions and falls. In some cases, no cause for the inflammation can be identified.

Exercise and Costochondritis

Costochondritis is a painful inflammatory condition that affects the ribcage. It can make even basic activities, such as stretching or deep breathing, extremely painful. While it might seem that exercise would be out of the question, there are actually some beneficial exercises you can do with Costochondritis. Let’s dive into the details.

What exercises to avoid

Costochondritis is an inflammation of joints lining the rib cage, and it can cause problems when exercising. Costochondritis can be caused or aggravated by activities that involve a lot of upper body movement, such as weightlifting, running, or playing certain sports. It’s important to be aware of what exercises might trigger your symptoms and avoid them until your condition improves.

Avoiding any upper body exercises that require pushing or pulling movements may be helpful in relieving the pressure on the ribcage joints. Some examples would include: weightlifting (including using dumbbells), chest presses, flies, pull-ups and chin-ups, push-ups and burpees.
It is also important to do some core strengthening activities that do not strain the chest and ribs muscles too much. As such, lower intensity Core Stability exercises are recommended: planks, bridges muscles with ball throwbacks and heel lifts among others can help strengthen core muscles without exerting too much pressure onto the rib cage joints.

Finally, cardiovascular exercises may still be beneficial when dealing with costochondritis if done correctly in a way that does not place too much strain on your chest muscles. Examples of suitable types of exercise include low-intensity walking or biking as well as swimming (avoid breaststroke). Doing so will help increase circulation in the affected area which may aid healing; it will also keep you fit while avoiding further straining your rib cage area muscles

What exercises to do

When it comes to your exercise routine, if you’ve been diagnosed with costochondritis, you’ll want to proceed with caution. Although it’s important to participate in regular physical activity and stay in shape, overexertion can exacerbate costochondritis symptoms. Talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program and follow the advice of your healthcare professional.

When determining what exercises to do on a regular basis, focus on activities that are low-impact and non-weight bearing such as swimming or yoga. Also, focus on dynamic stretching instead of static so you don’t accidentally stretch the muscles too far in one direction. Additionally, be sure to keep track of your pain levels; take note of which activities seem to increase the intensity or frequency of your chest pain during and after an activity.

Often time, low intensity low impact exercises such as walking are recommended for those dealing with costochondritis as a way to allow one’s body some rest from traditional forms of exercise while still receiving some physical activity benefits such as cardiovascular conditioning. You don’t need to entirely avoid traditional gym exercises but anything involving weighted push-ups or repetitions on rowing machines should be avoided until a healthcare provider allows progressions into weight-bearing activities. Remember that even light muscle training is an option if done with care and precision under the guidance of an instructor who understands costochondritis conditions.

Tips for Working Out with Costochondritis

Working out with Costochondritis can be tricky, but it is possible. Costochondritis is an inflammatory condition that affects the cartilage of the ribs, which can make exercise difficult. However, with some modifications, you can still stay active and help reduce the pain associated with the condition. In this article, we’ll discuss the best tips for working out with Costochondritis.

Warm up before exercise

If you suffer from costochondritis, the best advice is to warm up prior to any physical activity. Warming up will help prepare your body for the intensive physical activity that exercises classes, sports or strength and conditioning can involve. A good warm up should begin with gentle stretching targeting various muscles groups and gradually building into a slightly more vigorous activity such as a slow jog or light walk. This will help safely increase your heart rate, loosen your joints and ensure that your muscles are ready for whatever type of workout you will be doing. Make sure to focus on exercise that helps strengthen key muscle groups like core and chest muscles. Additionally, make sure to increase the intensity of your workout slowly in order to give yourself adequate time to rest in between sets if needed.

Take breaks during exercise

While costochondritis can make it difficult to exercise, it’s often recommended as a way of reducing pain and inflammation. Staying physically active is important, but exercising with costochondritis must be done cautiously. Exercise should never cause pain or increase your symptoms.

If your costochondritis flares up while you’re exercising, take frequent breaks and adjust your intensity level appropriately. If necessary to reduce pain and inflammation, you may need to rest your body more than usual on the days of intense activity. Regular non-strenuous physical activities are generally safer than intense workouts. To build strength and improve flexibility gently, pilates or yoga classes may be beneficial options. Although engaging in a mild stretching routine can help relieve tension in the chest area, always contact your doctor before starting a new exercise program as some exercises could further aggravate existing discomfort or cause further damage.
It’s also important to use proper form when lifting weights or using cardio machines like stationary bikes because bad posture can worsen chest pain associated with costochondritis. Your doctor or physical therapist can give you tips on good form for specific exercises that involve moving both the arms and upper trunk area at the same time such as swimming backstroke or using elliptical trainers.

Use proper form

When lifting weights, using proper form is critical to preventing further injury to the costochondral junction area. To help keep proper posture when working out, participants should focus on aligning their spine in an upright position. When using dumbbells or weight machines, athletes should keep their abdominals pulled in and lift weights at a slow and controlled pace. If needed, participants can use additional support like exercise bands or machines for additional support during their workout. It also important to remember that back strain can aggravate symptoms of costochondritis — so participants should not attempt any exercise that causes excessive discomfort.


As with any kind of chronic pain, you should check with your doctor before starting a workout regimen. Costochondritis can be aggravated by certain kinds of exercise and strain, so it’s important to carefully assess what activities might be appropriate for your situation. As a general rule, low-impact activities such as walking, yoga or swimming are the best for people with costochondritis. Gentle stretching is also recommended to help reduce muscle tension and pain. In addition, because stress and anxiety are considered possible triggers of costochondritis, activities such as meditation may help reduce flare-ups.

When constructing a workout routine for costochondritis it is important to focus on taking breaks when needed instead of pushing through the pain. The goal is to maintain an active lifestyle without experiencing more pain or exacerbating existing symptoms. If you feel any chest tightness or increased discomfort during a workout—stop immediately and reassess your activity levels with your doctor.

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