Why Do Your Ears Hurt After Running?


ears hurt after running

You finished your run! Your legs are feeling sore as they normally do. But you’re surprised to feel this throbbing pain in your ears.

Running puts a lot of pressure on knees, ankles, calf muscles, and spine. So, it’s understandable if you have strains, pains, or cramps in your feet or lower back.

However, your ears don’t move an inch while you run and still, many runners complain of throbbing pain in ears during or immediately after running.

So, what’s the connection between ears and running? Why do your ears hurt after running?

This article will share the most common theories, with some being more plausible than others to explain your ear pain. Learn why it’s happening and how you can prevent it.  

Blood Vessel Constriction

Our ears have a very sensitive and delicate system of nerves, blood vessels, and membranes. Running can dilate or narrow the blood vessels to supply more blood to muscles in your feet and vital organs. The sudden change in blood pressure results in throbbing pain.

If you are getting a sharp pain that starts to subside after 30 to 40 minutes, then this constriction is the most likely reason. In addition, you are more likely to experience it when running in the cold weather or high altitudes.

What to do?

Try ear protection like ear muffs or warmers. Do not go for running immediately after the shower. The water in the ear canal or cold skin will make the constriction worse in the cold weather.

Change in Air Pressure

Many people experience earaches while riding a bike or running in windy conditions. The culprit is the sudden change in air pressure within the ear.

There has to some equilibrium between the pressure on the inside and outside of eardrums. Drastic change in this pressure caused by quick body movements can cause throbbing pain. For runners, this can happen when they are running uphill or against a strong wind

What to do?

If you are experiencing the pain on the outer side of the ears, try wearing a headband. If you are feeling pain on the inside, you can try ear plugs. Further, a relaxed posture and pace can reduce the pain. At times, the stress from clenched fists or shoulders can create tension under the neck area that leads to pain in the ears or head.

You can simply try running at a different time or surface. For example, if you have just started mountain running or anywhere with different air conditions to your normal route, return to a flat surface or your regular path and see if the pain goes.

Earphones Use:

ear pressure after running

Many joggers and runners like listening to music when they are running. Most of them use earphones because they are light-weight and easy to carry. However, extensive use of earphones or headphones can result in ear problems.

Headphones can cause paid if the bud shape doesn’t match well to the ear. It can also be due increased temperature and humidity inside the year because the air gets blocked in. Also, the continuous bouncing can result in skin irritation or abrasion that might lead to infection.

What to do?

Invest in high quality, more comfortable headphones. Also, try to limit the length of use because extended use can result in hearing damage or other problems.

Perforation of Eardrum:

The previous reasons were all connected to the activity of running. However, a non-running factor can also be the cause of post-run ear pain.

For example, if you have ruptured eardrum, the pain can worsen after running or any physical exercise. Unlike the pain from air pressure or nerve constriction, it won’t go away after some time.

What to do?

Ruptured eardrums usually heal with the passage of time, so you can just take some time off from running. If you are also experiencing other problems like tinnitus or discharge with the pain, consult your physician or an ENT specialist.

Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease:

Less common but important factor is gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is usually associated with heartburn but those with GERD can experience other symptoms like sore throat or coughing. Any problem that affects your throat can also affect your ears because the ears, nose, and throats are connected.

When you’re running, stomach acids tend to splash around a lot. If something gets into your esophagus or you have a general sensitivity to this stromach acid, you can have pain in the ears.

What to do?

If you are suffering from GERD symptoms, consult with a physician to find a possible solution such as running at a specific time in the day.

You Heard It Here

Your ears can hurt due to air pressure, dilated vessels, excessive use of earplugs, or physical ailments. The pain can be relieved if you take care of these problems with appropriate headband, earplugs or running strategy.

If the pain lasts for hours after running, or it is accompanied with other health problems like discharge, vertigo, or tinnitus, you need to consult your physician.

Being well prepared will ensure your whole body, ears included, enjoy all the benefits (and less of the pain) of running.


Author Bio:  Sadi Khan is a content researcher and writer at RunRepeat.com. When he is not reading or writing new research and reports from the world of running shoes, he loves spending time with his family or watching sitcoms.

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