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Can Exercise Cause Sore Breasts?

by
author image Kay Ireland
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.
Can Exercise Cause Sore Breasts?
A woman is doing a cross fit exercise. Photo Credit Ammentorp Photography/iStock/Getty Images

Without the proper support, exercise is often a pain for breasts. The movement and stress placed on breasts during exercise often result in pain from displacement and friction, which is why special exercise gear focusing on support and care for the breasts should be a part of your gym attire. A better understanding as to how the breasts work and react during exercise can help you learn the importance of breast care to stop sore breasts during and after exercise.

Breast Anatomy

While they may seem like simple appendages, your breasts are complex body parts with a viable purpose: to feed and nourish a baby. Even if you've never had a baby or you haven't nourished a baby with your breasts, their primary function still remains. Your breasts are filled with nerve endings to begin milk flow, ducts to fill the breasts with milk and muscles and ligaments to support your suspended breasts. Because of their function and anatomy, breasts are often heavy, yet still retaining free movement as you exercise.

Pain Causes

The pain that you might feel during and after exercise is probably the result of one of two common causes. The first is simply the weight and movement of your breasts as you exercise. Allowing your breasts to move freely as you run and jump often results in sore muscles and suspensory ligaments that hold your breasts in place. The second cause of breast pain is the result of friction between your sensitive nipples and clothing, sometimes known as "runner's nipple." The friction causes rash-like symptoms and tenderness.

Treatment

If your exercise routine has left you with tender and aching breasts, stop exercising to address the pain before it becomes worse. An ice pack helps relieve swelling and numb the pain directly after your workout. Make an ice pack from a plastic bag filled with ice or a bag of peas wrapped in a towel and apply directly to your breasts to find relief.

Prevention

Like a variety of other exercise-induced aches and pains, prevention is often the best method to treat overall breast pain. Because exercise can cause both breast displacement and friction, a good-quality sports bra is key in defending against pain. Have your breasts properly measured by a store specializing in bras to ensure that you have the right fit. If necessary, purchase different sports bras for different activities, such as a high-support model for running and a more flexible bra for yoga and Pilates. When you try on sports bras, move around in several directions to ensure that you have the right fight and little, if any, friction. If pain persists even after a proper sports bra, visit your doctor for an exam.

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