Whether you’re a weekend warrior or go jogging daily, you’ve likely experienced some pain when running. It could be a sprained ankle, foot pain, or a tired calf. Sometimes, you may even experience jaw pain. But what causes your jaw to hurt when running, and should you visit a doctor?
If you experience jaw pain when running, it’s often caused by a TMJ disorder, dental problems, heart problems, or an incorrect running posture. Clenching your jaw when running can also cause jaw pain. To reduce jaw pain, correct your running posture, avoid jaw clenching and visit a doctor.
Let’s explore the underlying reasons why you may experience jaw pain when running, how to reduce the pain, and when to see a doctor.
Why Does Your Jaw Hurt When Running?
If your jaw hurts when you run, there’s often no need to worry. Many people feel pain behind their jaws when running. There are several physical and medical factors that cause jaw pain when you run.
If your jaw hurts when you run, it may be due to bad posture, jaw clenching, a TMJ disorder, or heart problems. Initially, there’s no need for concern, especially if the pain is mild. However, you’ll still have to treat the underlying cause.
Here are possible causes why you feel jaw pain when running:
Posture and Jaw Clenching
Bad posture and jaw clenching are potential factors that cause jaw pain when you run. You’re more likely to feel mild to severe jaw pain in your jaw when you run with bad posture or clench your jaw persistently.
Unfortunately, clenching your jaw while running can be a habit, and you may not even be aware of it.
Most running coaches place emphasis on maintaining correct posture when you run. Your head position, your body weight distribution, and foot placement are some factors that you should consider when running.
Your jaws are more prone to feel pain when you run with a forward-head posture. The ideal posture maintains your body’s weight evenly and uses the power of gravity to keep you stable. When you disturb this alignment with the wrong body posture, you put more pressure on your muscles and joints.
Eventually, your body will react, and you will experience jaw pain, muscle problems, and other health issues.
Clenching your jaw when you run can also cause it to hurt after a while. Many people involuntarily clench their jaws while sleeping or when they’re engaged in physical activities. Even if clenching your jaw helps you focus while running, try to get rid of this habit, or you may damage the ligaments connecting your jaw to your skull.
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is another factor that causes jaw pain when you run. The TMJ is a joint which keeps your jaw intact and includes the muscles surrounding your jaw.
When you experience TMJ, it not only causes pain in your jaws but also in the muscles holding it in place. When you run, you put extra pressure on your joints and jaws. If you have weak jaw joints due to a TMJ disorder, it’s more likely that your jaw pain will get worse.
Lastly, jaw pain while running can be linked to heart problems. Heart problems may also cause other physical problems and affect your overall stamina and mobility.
In most cases, heart problems don’t cause severe jaw pain, but you should still take it seriously. Some cardiovascular problems, such as Angina, may also cause severe jaw pain when running. In this condition, insufficient blood reaches your heart, which may pump less blood to the body’s muscles and joints, causing jaw pain.
Remedies for Jaw Pain and When to See a Doctor
When you feel mild jaw pain while running, you often don’t need to worry about it. There are some effective home remedies to deal with the pain. These include checking your body posture while running, avoiding jaw clenching, therapy and medication.
Let’s discuss these solutions in detail:
Check Your Body Posture
If you experience jaw pain, you’ll get relief if you just check on your body posture when you run. Keep your head straight and stride by pushing your knee high and ensuring you land on the balls of your feet.
By checking your body posture, you’ll avoid putting pressure on your head and neck, and your jaw pain should lessen.
Avoid Jaw Clenching
If you have a habit of clenching your teeth when you run, it’s often a side effect of stress. While it’s not easy to get rid of your teeth-clenching habit, you can do so by:
- Stretching to loosen your muscles before running.
- Taking regular breaks and avoiding pushing too hard.
- Meditating regularly to control your nerves.
- Using a night guard to protect your jaw when running.
Therapy is one of the most effective ways to treat jaw pain caused by running. Therapy with cold water reduces jaw swelling and eventually makes your running pain-free.
Therapy with hot water makes your jaw flexible and helps loosen your jaws when running. Keeping your jaws relaxed will significantly reduce jaw pain. Speak to a dentist or doctor if you think water therapy might be a good solution to your jaw pain while running.
Depending on how severe your jaw pain is and the underlying cause, you may need medication to reduce the pain. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like Tylenol and Ibuprofen are often prescribed to lessen jaw pain.
However, always visit your doctor before taking any prescription since there may be an underlying medical or dental condition that you aren’t aware of.
When to See a Doctor
When you feel jaw pain initially, you can try home treatments like herbal solutions and water therapy. However, if the pain persists, there could be an underlying medical condition for your jaw pain. In such cases, the best solution is to visit a doctor.
Here are some signs that you need to visit a doctor for jaw pain treatment:
- When you feel persistent jaw pain, that gets worse every day.
- If you have high blood pressure accompanying the jaw pain.
- If you have trouble breathing or are experiencing other cardiovascular problems.
- When home treatments don’t work.
- If the pain progresses so much as to make your daily activities uncomfortable.
In some cases, your doctor may recommend that you visit a dentist if the underlying causes are cavities or other dental problems. If it’s a dental problem, you may have to do a root canal or other procedure.
Keep in mind, however, that not all medical conditions causing jaw pain can be cured. If you have sensitive teeth or a TMJ disorder with dormant symptoms, the most you can do is keep the symptoms in check, so the jaw pain doesn’t interfere with your daily activities.