Why Does My Chest Hurt When I Workout?

You may be feeling pain in your chest when you workout because you are pushing your body too hard. Try easing up on the intensity of your workouts and see if that helps.

Causes of Chest Pain During Exercise

Chest pain during exercise is a very common complaint. It can be a sign that something is wrong and should be taken seriously. The causes of chest pain during exercise can range from relatively harmless and temporary, to more serious and even life threatening conditions. Let’s take a look at some of the possible causes of chest pain during exercise and how it can be addressed.

One of the most common causes of chest pain during exercise is coronary artery disease, which occurs when arteries become blocked or narrowed due to cholesterol deposits. This reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches the heart muscle, resulting in chest pain known as angina. Chest pain caused by angina will usually subside after a few minutes rest. In addition to chest pain, other symptoms can include a tightness or heaviness in the center of your chest, nausea, sweating and shortness of breath.

Other heart-related causes of chest pain during exercise can include an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), a tear in the wall of your aorta (aortic dissection), inflammation of the sac surrounding your heart (pericarditis) and narrowing or blockage in certain valves that keep blood flowing through your heart (valvular diseases). An infection in the membrane which lines and covers all chambers of your heart and valves can also cause chest discomfort (endocarditis).

It’s important to be aware that any type of cardiac event should be addressed immediately and you should contact emergency medical services if you experience sudden chest pain during exercise. Your doctor will be able to determine if any tests are necessary to identify potential causes for your symptoms.

Chest pain during exercise has many different potential causes, ranging from muscular-related issues to more serious medical issues. Of the muscle-related causes of chest pain, the most common are use-induced chest wall pain (costochondritis), strain of the muscles or tendons around the ribcage or sternum, or irritation of the muscles due to overuse.

Use-induced chest wall pain (costochondritis) is a condition in which inflammation and swelling occur around one or more of your ribs, causing chest discomfort and tenderness when touched. It is usually caused by overstretching or overusing certain muscles in your upper body during intense or repetitive exercise. This type of chest pain usually subsides with rest and is relatively manageable with proper stretching and changes to activity levels.

Strains occur when exercised muscles become compromised due to repeatedly working them beyond their capacity. This commonly occurs when you push too hard during strength training exercises but can also happen during cardio sessions if too much pressure is being exerted on your chest wall for extended periods of time. Strains can lead to sharp pains as well as numbness and/or tingling sensations in the particular areas where they occur; resting for a few days should help let these heal up quickly.

Finally, irritation of muscles can result from poor form during exercise, leading to excessive strain on those particular muscle fibers over extended periods of time–even if it doesn’t feel like you’re straining excessively! Poor posture and inadequate warmup are often catalysts for muscle irritations that can cause mild yet persistent chest discomfort while exercising–correcting these practises will usually alleviate any issue caused by this mechanism.

It’s normal to feel some pressure in your chest when you exercise and push your body. However, chest pain that’s severe or doesn’t go away after rest may be related to a medical problem. When chest pain occurs during exercise, it is often either a result of physical exertion or a sign of an underlying heart condition.

Respiratory-related causes: Chest pain can be caused by problems with the respiratory system. Asthma can lead to discomfort or even sharp pain in the back, chest, neck, and throat during intense physical activity. Other respiratory causes of chest pain include infection, allergies, and pulmonary embolism (blood clots that lodge in the lungs).

Cardiovascular-related causes: Chest pain is sometimes caused by issues involving the circulatory system — the heart’s arteries can become too narrow due to plaque buildup (atherosclerosis) or blocked entirely due to a blood clot (coronary thrombosis). Both restricted and completely blocked flow through the arteries can cause angina — stable or unstable — as well as a heart attack. Anytime there is severe chest pain accompanied by other symptoms such as difficulty breathing, fatigue, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, fainting and rapid heartbeat seek immediate medical attention.


Chest pain during physical activity is a common symptom and can be caused by a number of issues. It is important to determine the exact cause of the chest pain so that the appropriate treatment can be prescribed. In this section, we will look at the different potential causes of chest pain during exercise, and how they can be properly diagnosed.

Physical examination

Physical examination is a critical part of diagnosing the cause of chest pain during or after exercise. The doctor will take a detailed history and review symptoms to determine possible causes. During the physical exam, the doctor may assess pulse, blood pressure, and heart rate. They may also check for signs of an organ disorder such as enlargement of the heart muscle, an arrhythmia, or a widened pulse pressure. Pain can be localized to specific areas of the chest wall by testing manual manipulation and palpitation.

The physical examination may also consist of other tests such as breathing capacity checks or listening to the chest with a stethoscope for any crackling noises in the lungs. Tests like X-rays, CT scans, EKGs (electrocardiograms), stress tests (treadmill or bicycle), echocardiogram (ultrasound) or cardiac MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) may be recommended if more in-depth testing is required. Depending on the diagnosis from these exams, additional treatments such as medications or physical therapy may be prescribed in order to improve your overall health and reduce pain during exercise activities.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a diagnostic test used to measure the electrical activity of your heart. An ECG is generally part of a routine physical. Most doctors use it to help diagnose conditions that may cause chest pain or other symptoms when you’re exercising. It can also detect signs of heart attack and arrhythmia (abnormal heart beat). It usually takes about 10 minutes to perform an ECG.

During an ECG, small metal sensors are placed on your chest and wrists, which allow an electric current from the detectors to pass through your heart muscle. The electric signals are then recorded onto a sheet for analysis by your doctor or cardiologist. In some cases, portable ECGs can be worn over a period of time in order to see how the heart works in response to physical activity or stressors. This can help diagnose chest pain associated with exercise and other activities.

Stress test

A stress test is a diagnostic tool used to determine how your heart responds under physical movement. It is a safe and simple procedure performed in a medical clinic or hospital, where your blood pressure and heart rate are monitored before, during, and after exercise. Depending on the type of stress test you are undergoing, you may be asked to walk on a treadmill or ride an exercise bike for a certain amount of time while hooked up to medical equipment. If results from the initial test reveal any irregularities or abnormalities in your heart’s functioning, your doctor may recommend further testing in order to diagnose any issues. Stress tests can be used to diagnose conditions such as coronary artery disease (CAD), pulmonary hypertension (PH), defects in the structure of the arteries and other types of cardiac arrhythmia.


When it comes to chest pain associated with exercise, treatment options will vary depending on the cause. If your chest pain is caused by a strain or other type of injury, rest is the most important treatment. You should also avoid any activities that cause pain until the injury has healed. Over-the-counter pain relievers or topical medicines can also help with the discomfort. Other treatment options include physical therapy, stretching, and strengthening exercises.

Rest and recovery

Rest and recovery are essential components of any successful workout program and can help to prevent or reduce chest pain. You should allow yourself at least 48 hours of rest between strength training workouts to allow your muscles to heal and for you to recover from the physical stress. If you are feeling any intense chest pain during your workout, you should stop immediately and seek medical attention.

In addition, engaging in activity such as yoga or Tai Chi can help reduce stress, increase strength and flexibility in the upper body, improve posture and respiration, reduce tension in muscles, tendons and ligaments; increasing physical awareness of the body’s movements which may promote faster healing of the chest tissues. Additionally, to aid in recovery, it is important to make sure you are stretching before each workout and that you get adequate rest each night (typically seven to eight hours). Proper nutrition will also ensure that your body gets the nutrients it needs for muscle growth and repair. Increasing water intake may also help keep your body hydrated so it can build back any lost muscle tissue/tendons more quickly.


It is important to speak with your doctor if your chest discomfort during exercise does not go away or if it begins to worsen. Your doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin for short-term relief. These should be taken as prescribed and discuss potential drug interactions with your doctor, if necessary.

Your doctor may also prescribe cardiac medications such as beta blockers to treat underlying conditions that may be causing the chest discomfort. In some cases, nitrates or calcium channel blockers can also be used to treat angina or other heart problems that can lead to chest pain when exercising.

In addition, your physician may suggest an electrocardiogram (ECG) if he/she suspects a heart issue and wants to monitor the electrical activity in your heart. If the pain increases when you are physically active, slowing down may help ease the symptoms.


Surgery is a possible approach for the treatment of chest pain related to exercise. Depending on the likelihood of success, the medical team may opt for a less aggressive approach or may recommend surgery. An open thoracotomy is usually required to repair damaged chest muscle tissue and can include a resection or stitch-in procedure depending on the condition. In some cases, arthroscopy may be performed with an endoscope that allows for access through keyhole incisions.

The same techniques may be used to repair damaged organ tissue within the chest cavity such as the heart, lungs, or gallbladder. However, it’s important to note that surgery is only recommended if other less invasive treatments are not successful in providing relief from chest pain during physical activity.

Finally, vascular sprays and ablation procedures such as glochidolization or stenting can also be used to treat any narrowed arteries or areas of blockage that are contributing to a patient’s chest pain symptoms during exercise. As with all treatments for chest pain related to exercise it’s important to consult with your medical team about any concerns you have prior to beginning any particular type of treatment plan.


Chest pain during exercise can be caused by many things including overexertion or muscular fatigue. Doing a few simple steps prior to exercise can help you prevent chest pain during workouts. In this section, we will discuss some of the steps you can take to prevent chest pain when you are working out.

Regular exercise

Regular exercise is important for all ages, helping to improve general health and wellbeing. Exercise has numerous physical and mental benefits and can even reduce the risk of certain diseases. For those experiencing chest pain when working out, it is important to ensure that proper exercise techniques and adequate warm-up exercises are used prior to the workout in order to reduce any risk of injury. Additionally, engaging in moderate exercise regularly helps build up strength and endurance in the chest muscles, which can help prevent chest pain when exercising.

It is important to ensure that an individual’s activities don’t exceed their current physical ability; if chest pain occurs during or after a workout session, they should slow down or stop their activity/exercise immediately. Other causes of chest pain that are not related to exercise include heart attacks or other cardiac issues. If chest pain persists after taking rest or there are other alarming symptoms accompanying it, it is recommended that an individual visits their doctor as soon as possible for a professional opinion.

Proper nutrition

Proper nutrition is a key factor in both preventing and alleviating chest pain during exercise. It is essential to ensure that your body has enough fuel to sustain the high-intensity workouts. In order to do this, try to consume a balanced diet with enough carbohydrates and protein, as well as healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.

Additionally, it is important that you have a meal before your workout. This will give your body the energy it needs to perform, allowing you to stay energized throughout the whole exercise session. Make sure you keep hydrated by drinking at least eight glasses of water every day and stay away from processed food or sugary beverages which may contain added chemicals or large amounts of salt and sugar – both these can dehydrate the body quickly leading to an abrupt halt in exercising or worse – chest pains.

Finally, if you are an athlete involved in competitive sports, you should consider adjusting your pre-performance meal slightly by increasing carbohydrates intake for those additional burst of energy and stamina needed for sport-related activities. This does not mean that you should double down on unhealthy food sources! Instead focus on natural sources such as wholegrains, lean meats/poultry/seafoods complemented with some fresh fruits/vegetables and nuts/seeds/legumes alongside drinking adequate amounts of water.

Stress management

Stress on our bodies from an intense workout can cause soreness and chest pain. Managing stress levels through lifestyle changes can help to reduce the amount of pain you experience during exercise. Such lifestyle changes include making time for relaxation activities such as meditation, listening to music or taking a warm bath post-exercise, eating nutritious meals throughout the day, drinking enough water to stay hydrated and getting adequate sleep each night. Developing a regular exercise plan with moderate intensity can also help you manage stress levels when working out. Additionally, using proper breathing techniques before, during and after exercises can reduce tension in your chest muscles and provide relief. Performing stretching exercises at the beginning of your workout may further help in limiting muscle pain later on. Regular chiropractic adjustments by a trained professional may also help reduce tension in neck and shoulder muscles which can lead to chest discomfort when exercising intensively.

When to See a Doctor

Chest pain during exercise can be a sign of a serious medical condition, and it is important to determine the cause of the pain. If you experience chest pain while working out, it is important to recognize the symptoms and understand when to seek medical attention. This guide will look at the different types of chest pain and when to see a doctor.

Chest pain that gets worse with exercise

It is important to address chest pain that gets worse during exercise or other physical activity as soon as possible. If you are experiencing chest pain that persists or gets worse when engaging in physical activity, it can be a sign of a serious medical condition.

You should contact your doctor immediately if the chest pain you experience when engaging in physical activity:
-Increases in intensity when you take a deep breath
-Feels like burning or squeezing
-Spreads down one arm, into the jaw, back, neck or abdomen
-Is associated with shortness of breath, nausea and/or dizziness
-Is accompanied by sharp twinges or cramps in your side

If any of these symptoms occur while exercising, stop immediately and seek medical advice right away. In addition to chest pain due to exercise causing heart related issues such as angina and heart attack caused by blocked blood flow to the heart muscles, it can also be caused by muscle spasms due to overexertion, breathing problems such as asthma or lung conditions, irritation in the pleural cavity around the lungs known as pleurisy, pulled muscles due to overstretching and several other causes which should prompt an immediate examination from a medical professional.

Chest pain that lasts more than a few minutes

It is important to remember that chest pain during a workout is usually not a cause for alarm. However, there are certain situations when you should see a doctor about your chest pain immediately, even if it only lasts for a few minutes.

If your chest pain does not go away after taking rest from activity and lasts more than a few minutes, it is advised that you seek medical attention immediately. Additionally, if the chest pain comes on suddenly and is severe in intensity, accompanied by discomfort in the arms or jaw, difficulty breathing, dizziness or nausea this could be an indication of a serious medical emergency.

In any of these cases above it is important to contact emergency medical services right away or visit the nearest hospital emergency room as soon as possible for further evaluation and treatment. If necessary, these professionals can provide life-saving intervention required to stabilize an individual’s condition in such situations.

Chest pain accompanied by shortness of breath

If you experience chest pain accompanied by shortness of breath, dizziness or a feeling of uneasiness during physical activity, it’s imperative that you stop exercising and seek medical attention right away. Shortness of breath, dizziness and uneasiness during exercise could be a sign of something more serious, such as a pulmonary embolism caused by a blood clot in the lungs. While chest pain is common with exercise — and may simply be due to overexertion — any sudden and severe occurrence should be taken seriously.

It’s important to monitor your chest pain and corresponding symptoms carefully. Make sure to note the location of the pain—like between your shoulder blades versus in open air—the intensity for several minutes or afterwards as well as any other possible symptoms such as wheezing or coughing that may occur. Speak to your doctor about what you’re experiencing so they can properly assess the situation? If necessary, they will take additional steps to properly evaluate any underlying cause such as obtaining an MRI or even performing an angiogram.

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