Running continues to become a more popular sport. And it seems like it’s not just that more people are running, it’s that people seem to be running longer and longer distances. Ultramarathons have become so popular that even Matthew Inman, the creative mind behind Internet sensation The Oatmeal, runs them and has even written a popular book about it.
But with more people running, there are also more reports of running-related problems, including jaw pain. If you are a runner who experiences jaw pain, there are many possible causes and it should be investigated because some of them are serious or even deadly.
Deadly: Blocked Arteries, Angina, and Other Heart Problems
It might not seem like it, but jaw pain could be a sign that you’re experiencing cardiovascular problems. We know, running is supposed to be healthy for your heart, but there are three reasons why you might be suffering cardiovascular problems despite your running lifestyle: 1) (fried) chickens from your pre-running life coming home to roost, 2) genetic predisposition to heart problems, or 3) just unlucky.
As a result, you should have jaw pain during running checked out because it could be angina or blocked arteries, both of which could put you at increased risk for a heart attack (which might also be felt as jaw pain).
But why would you feel the pain in your jaw? This is actually more common than you might think: heart pain is felt in the jaw because of a phenomenon known as referred pain. In this condition, your body thinks pain in an unusual place (your heart) is coming from a place where pain is more expected (your jaw) because pain signals from the two locations travel on the same nerve.
Because of the potential risk, if you have jaw pain when running, you should talk to a doctor.