After a quick run in the early morning, you might start noticing slight discomfort or tingling sensation coming from your throat. This can be accompanied by pain while swallowing and talking or not.
If that mainly happens when you run, this might lead you to wonder “why does my throat hurt when I run? And that’s where this guide hops in for the help!
Sore throats while running can occur due to various reasons, but mainly due to breathing through the nose or running in unfavorable conditions, such as dry, cold, or dusty air. Acid reflux issues can also make your throat sore while running.
If you want to find out more about these causes and how to manage them, keep on reading this brief guide!
Why Does My Throat Hurt When I Run: What Are the Causes
When it comes to feeling some pain in your throat while running, there’s no one exact answer. Instead, this can happen due to a wide range of factors and conditions.
To help you pinpoint the cause in your situation, here’s a quick look at all the aspects that cause throat:
1. Breathing Through Your Mouth
A lot of people switch automatically to mouth breathing while running in an effort to gulp on more oxygen while running.
However, when you breathe through your mouth, the larger quantities of air start drying up your throat lining, which leads to noticeable irritation that can cause a lot of pain in a short time, especially if you’re not properly hydrated.
Additionally, studies suggest that breathing through the nose could be far more superior. For example, a 2017 study found that breathing through the nose yielded higher heart rate, and therefore, better performance and metabolism.
On the other hand, your nasal passages are much better suited for warming and moistening the air to avoid drying up the throat lining.
If you’re unable to breathe properly through your nose while running, you might want to use local decongestants or topical gels that clear your nasal passages before running.
2. Acid Reflux
Acid reflux (heartburn) is a condition where stomach acids start flowing or rising up the esophagus, which leads to a burning sensation in the upper chest.
In severe conditions, the acid may even reach the throat, causing throat pain as well as hoarseness of voice, which is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
There are plenty of studies and scientific data that link physical activity with gastroesophageal reflux.
In some cases, you might be suffering from chronic (long-term) acid reflux, so you don’t feel the discomfort until the acid reaches the throat.
While this condition is sometimes incurable, there are plenty of medications that will prevent the symptoms, reduce the irritation, and cause near-immediate relief. Additionally, always run on an empty stomach to avoid post-meal irritation.
3. The Temperature of the Air
Running in cold air isn’t only hard on your muscles, but it also puts a lot of stress on your throat. Our noses have a lot of tiny blood capillaries in irregular pathways that help in warming cold air as it enters our lungs.
If the air is too cold outside, these mechanisms may not be enough to warm the air before it reaches your throat, which cools down the throat, allowing bacteria and viruses to thrive.
This causes conditions like common cold, pharyngitis, and other conditions that all inflammation in the throat that causes its scratchiness and makes it very difficult to swallow.
Luckily, pharyngitis is a self-limited disease, so it should go away in a few days if you drink warm liquids and keep your neck warm.
Cold air is also associated with low humidity, which also causes throat pain, but more about that in the following section.
4. Low Levels of Humidity
As previously mentioned, running with your mouth open dries up your throat very easily, which leaves your throat irritated and sore.
In addition to this, running while humidity levels are very low, regardless of the surrounding temperature, can also cause a similar effect.
This happens because when humidity is low, the air becomes extremely dry (contains a low concentration of water vapor). This dry air then draws the moisture out of the lining of your throat, causing painful discomfort.
Running in climates where humidity is very high is also quite uncomfortable and can be too exhausting.
For that reason, the ideal humidity range for a healthy running session should be between 40% to 55%.
5. The Quality of Inhaled Air
Lastly, in some cases, your throat might be a bit too sensitive to irritants suspended in the air, such as microscopic dirt particles, pollen, dander, etc.
According to a study about the non-infectious factors that can also cause a sore throat, it was found that fine dust can also irritate some people’s throats, which leads to symptoms similar to pharyngitis.
Valuable Tips to Avoid Throat Pain While Running
Now that you know more about the reasons why your throat might hurt you while running, here are some important tips that can help you overcome or avoid the throat pain altogether while running:
1. Gargling with Warm Salt Water
One of the oldest home remedies that can help with a sore throat and still works like a charm to this day is gargling with salt water.
To do that, add 1/4 to 1/2 tablespoon of table salt to an 8 ounce cup of relatively warm water, then stir well until the salt is dissolved. After that, start gargling with the water for a couple of minutes and try not to swallow the water.
2. Drinking Warm Liquids
One of the best ways to reduce throat pain is by keeping it warm. The best way to keep it warm is by drinking warm liquids such as herbal teas of different kinds.
Avoid drinking too much coffee because caffeine is a dehydrated agent and also triggers stomach acid in prone people.
3. Suck on Lozenges While Running
Medical lozenges contain various local anesthetics and soothing agents that help in alleviating the pain in your throat immediately.
The sugar content of hard candy can also have a similar effect, so it can be used as an alternative in mild cases.
4. Make Sure You’re Hydrated Before Running
To overcome dry conditions, make sure that your body is well hydrated. This way, your throat lining will stay moist and protect your throat from getting scratchy.
5. Wear a Scarf or a Nose-Warming Mask While Running
Since cold weather is one of the major factors that cause throat pain while running, wearing protective clothes can keep your airways warm. This includes a neck gaiter or a winter cotton scarf.
6. Consider Running Indoors
If you live in an area where climates outdoors are too cold or dry, you might want to avoid the hassle of running outside and use a treadmill instead.
There are plenty of excellent home gym treadmills, such as NordicTrack Commercial Series
, and affordable options like Sunny Health & Fitness Treadmill for buyers on a strict budget.
When to Seek Medical Help Regarding Throat Pain While Running?
In most cases, sore throats will heal on their own, and following the previously mentioned tips can help in speeding up the process, so you should start feeling better in around 3 to 5 days depending on your immunity.
However, if the throat pain is accompanied by a high fever (above 100 degrees F or 37.7 degrees C) or you’re not able to sleep due to throat pain, you might want to visit your doctor for an antibiotic prescription and/or further examination.
Final Thoughts On Why Does My Throat Hurt When I Run
There you have it! A brief guide that answers Why Does My Throat Hurt When I Run, and as you can see, sore throats while running can happen for a wide range of reasons.
Throat pain is mainly caused by breathing through your mouth rather than your nose while running, but it can also happen if the air is too dry, cold, or dusty. For that reason, you have to be vigilant regarding the symptoms and possible causes.
Some chronic conditions can also cause throat pain while running, such as acid reflux. In that case, make sure that you use a proper anti-reflux medication, whether prescribed or over the counter.