why do my ribs hurt after running

Running is an intense aerobic exercise. At a moderate pace of five miles-per-hour, a 145-pound person can burn an estimated 526 calories an hour. However, the intensity level of running can also place stress on your body, resulting in varying pains throughout your body. One common area where pain can occur is your sides around your ribs, commonly referred to as a side-stitch. One cause of your side rib pain could be the lack of oxygen that can occur with strenuous exercises like running. When you run, you substantially increase the energy required by your muscles to keep up your pace. An increased need in energy comes with an increased need for oxygen, which causes both your lungs and heart to work harder. When the lungs cannot keep up with the needs of the body, some muscles may not get the oxygen they need. This can result in cramping of the stomach muscles, which can manifest itself as a side pain near the ribs.


Side rib pain can also be associated with ligaments between your diaphragm and your stomach. Running uses an up-and-down motion that affects your body each time your feet hit the ground. This impact can push your internal organs downward, placing pressure on the ligaments attached to your stomach. At the same time as these ligaments are being pulled down, your lungs are inhaling and expanding, placing more pressure on the ligaments. The resulting stress can create side rib pain. Running can quickly dehydrate your body through sweating, especially if you are running outside on a hot day. As you become dehydrated, the amount of water available to make up blood volume is limited. Less blood volume reduces your cardiovascular system's ability to transport oxygen and other nutrients needed by the cells of your body, especially the tissues of the digestive tract.


Without adequate oxygen, cramping can occur, which can manifest itself as a side pain. Reduce your risk of dehydration by drinking plenty of water before and after your run. Sip small amounts of water during your run and when needed. Reduce your intensity level by slowing down to a jog or walk to help reduce pain. Take deep breaths and exhale through pursed lips to prevent or relieve pain. You can also reduce pain by stopping and bending forward at a 90-degree angle while tightening your stomach muscles.
Your rib cage is supported by a network of tendons and muscles that allow for the expansion and contraction of your lungs and torso movement. Running can strain muscles around the torso, particularly if your muscles are cold or you push beyond your endurance. Muscle pulls can also occur after running; tired muscles are more easily injured by a sudden movement or impact.


Location of rib muscles makes treatment difficult. Talk to your doctor about your pain and possible treatment options. The ribs have their own set of muscles called intercostals that occupy the spaces between each rib. The internal intercostals lie deep between the ribs and run down and back toward the spine. Separated by a layer of fibrous tissue called fascia, the external intercostals are closer to the skin; these muscles run down and forward. Your transversus thoracis also attaches to your ribs, as do the serratus anterior and posterior muscles, the levatores costarum and the subcostals. All of these muscles provide support to the rib cage and work in expansion, contraction, lowering and lifting the ribs during the breath cycle. A pulled muscle or strain occurs when muscle fibers are stretched or torn during activity or impact.


Strains come in two varieties: acute and chronic. Abruptly pulling or tearing a muscle beyond its range of motion causes acute strains. A sudden twist, turn or sprint during a run can strain the muscles surrounding your rib cage. Sharp pain or muscle spasms indicate an acute strain. Chronic strains occur gradually; prolonged, repetitive movement of a muscle group may eventually lead to muscle fiber tears. Long-distance or long-term recreational runners are more at risk for chronic strains. Pain, like the injury, may manifest gradually, limiting movement and decreasing performance over time. Fatigue leaves muscles vulnerable to injury. Tired rib muscles can easily stretch or tear if not given adequate time to rest. Raking, gardening or even picking up your child soon after a long run can pull a muscle in your torso.


Injury can even happen the day after a run, particularly if you pushed your endurance limit. Stretching can help prevent muscle strains. Yoga s side stretch pose helps lengthen rib cage, chest and shoulder muscles. Stand with your feet flat on the ground, raise your left arm up and lean toward the right until you feel a stretch in your side. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides. Mild strains heal on their own with adequate rest. You can use icepacks on the injured area to reduce swelling and pain. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications are also helpful. Breathing may be difficult with rib muscle strain and mobility is affected. If you experience breathlessness, cannot walk more than four steps without significant pain or see red streaks spreading out from your injury, contact your doctor immediately.