Put an End to Post-Workout Breast Pain

Ever leave the gym with that achy| sore feeling in your breasts? Break that cycle of discomfort with these pain-relieving tips from Shape. You should always be leaving the gym feeling better| not worse!

You know all the conventional ways to relieve sore muscles after overtraining ¡ª ice the area| stretch it out| maybe even pop a painkiller or two. But it’s hard to know if those same rules apply when the pain is in a more| ahem| sensitive spot| such as your breasts.

Breast soreness as a result of exercise is surprisingly common. In a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine| more than half of well-endowed women and 25 percent of those who wore an A cup or smaller reported experiencing it.

“There are a couple of ways exercise causes breast pain|” explains ob-gyn Alyssa Dweck| M.D.| author of V Is For Vagina. “One of the more common culprits is muscular strain| which can occur from strength training.” But| she says| high-impact exercises like running can also stress the muscles and ligaments in your chest| causing discomfort and soreness ¡ª especially if you’re wearing a less-than-supportive bra. (Get the best sports bra for every body type.) Another way your bra can cause injury is via the underwire| which can become damaged or misshapen and pierce or otherwise hurt your breast tissue| she says.

A perhaps more well-known cause of breast pain: “Runner’s nipple| the result of friction between your sensitive nipples and exercise clothing| causing extreme tenderness| inflammation| and even bleeding|” explainsFranci Cohen| a personal trainer and exercise physiologist based in New York City.

The best way to stop pain is to wear a good| supportive sports bra| says Cohen. Consider getting professionally sized to ensure you have the right fit| and think about splurging on a slightly higher-end option. They tend to use better quality materials that will hold up for longer and are less likely to cause painful friction. If your nipple does become irritated| applying an antibacterial ointment like Neosporin Plus Pain Relief ($6| drugstore.com) can help.

No matter how great a sports bra you wear| though| it’s pretty much inevitable that you’ll feel sore after doing certain chest exercises. As you get stronger| the discomfort should go away or diminish| says Cohen. (Many women are also naturally predisposed to breast pain in the week or so before their periods| which Dweck says can up their chances of discomfort at the gym.) If you do feel achy post-workout| you can ice your breasts and take NSAIDs like ibuprofen as you would for any other sore body part.

But if the pain doesn’t go away| even after you take NSAIDs| or you notice a lump| bruising| or unusual nipple discharge| see your doctor ASAP ¡ª these could be signs of a more serious problem like breast cancer| says Dweck.

A final tip: If you’re a java fan (or you take caffeine-containing pre-workout supplements)| you may want to consider cutting back| advises Dweck. “Caffeine can make breasts more cystic and tender.” (15 Everyday Things That Can Change Your Breasts.) Sure| you might feel a little sluggish at first. But that’s a small price to pay for a more comfortable workout.

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