So there you are, settling into your stride about halfway through a run, when a sudden pain punches you square in the chest. As the feeling tightens, you clutch your collar in a panic. Is it a totally random heart attack? Well, don’t race to conclusions just yet. Although the symptoms you’re experiencing are downright frightening, they could be signaling a number of issues that run the gamut from serious to not so scary.
“Chest pain that occurs while running may have a variety of causes,” says David Friedman, M.D., chief of heart failure services at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream Hospital. “While it’s important not to ignore pain, not all chest pain is cause for concern.”
In order from least to most severe, here are the five most common reasons why your chest could hurt during a run, plus pro tips for kicking your pangs to the curb.