People who run competitively or for exercise are accustomed to occasional soreness in their legs, feet, knees, lower back, and arms. These are also the areas of the body mostly likely to sustain injury from repeated use. Plenty of resources exist on how to prevent and treat these common running injuries.
One part of the body that gets much less attention in relation to running-related pain is the ears. Runners whose ears hurt after running often have no idea what caused it or how to prevent it from happening again.
Below are several potential causes of ear pain while running along with ideas on how to feel more comfortable.
Ears Hurt After Running in Cold Temperatures
Ears can become numb and cause stinging sensations when exposed to cold temperatures for more than a few minutes. People who run indoors on a track or treadmill as well as outdoors should be able to tell if their ear pain comes from wind and cold.
Keep in mind that it doesn’t need to be winter to develop earn pain from cool air. Fortunately, solving the problem of weather-related cold ears is easy. A pair of earmuffs that stays firmly in place or a warm hat should do the trick.
Poorly Fitting Earbuds
Many runners choose to wear earbuds that allows them to listen to music while working out. Music can give extra motivation to keep moving while also breaking up the monotony of silence or drowning out unwanted background noise.
However, earbuds need to fit securely to prevent the ears from becoming sore after a run. When choosing earbuds, runners should look for a product that includes several sizes of earbud tips to ensure the best fit. It is also a good idea for runners to test each size of earbud tip before deciding which one provides the best fit.
Getting the proper fit with earbuds provides several benefits, including the following:
- Poorly fitting earbuds are uncomfortable to wear and can leave red marks on the ears.
- Runners may lose their earbuds while exercising if one or both falls out due to a poor fit.
- Music quality will not be as good as it could be when the earbuds form a tight seal to fit correctly.
Besides testing each size of earbud tip, users should make sure they insert the correct earbud into each ear. IQbuds² MAX earbuds are labeled with “R” and “L” to help people know which earbud goes in each ear.
Runners should insert each earbud into the ear canal while holding it in a vertical position. Once the tip of the earbud is in the ear canal, users should twist it towards the back of their head to form a seal that keeps the earbud locked firmly in place.
Human sweat in the ear canal can affect the way earbuds fit. If that occurs, runners should remove the earbuds, wipe them off on a towel, and wipe out their ear canal. They can then re-insert the earbuds when both are dry again.
Playing Music Too Loud
When the sounds around them are too loud to hear music through their earbuds clearly, turning up the volume is a common response. Unfortunately, prolonged exposure to loud music can damage hearing as well as cause ear discomfort. Those seeking wireless earbuds for working out should look for active noise cancellation (ANC) features.
ANC combines active noise cancellation and advanced processing of digital signals to deliver only the sounds that users want to hear. Blocking out background noise enables users to experience clear sound quality in any environment.
This functionality is highly useful whether jogging on the sidewalk or working out in a noisy gym. Another feature of ANC is that it allows earbud users to hear the sounds they need such as a car horn to alert them to potential danger and the voices of running companions or others whom they wish to speak to while exercising.
When someone has gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), it causes heartburn the contents of the stomach back up into the esophagus. In addition to coughing, sore throat, and chest pain, some people with GERD also develop ear pain. Approximately 40 percent of people with GERD experience ear pain during exercise due to disruption of the contents of the stomach. Ear pain and other symptoms are much more likely with vigorous exercise. Because of this, GERD sufferers may want to schedule their runs for at least a few hours after eating.
Tightness in the Jaw
Stress or anxiety can cause some people to feel tightness in their jaw. The jaw pain can extend to the neck, teeth, and ears as well. If this happens, the first thing runners should do is consider whether they are currently experiencing more stress than usual. Addressing the issues causing the stress and practicing some relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or yoga can help people to feel calmer.
Foods that are difficult to chew cause added strain on the jaws that can radiate to the ears. Cutting back or eliminating those foods should help.
Flexing the face while running is another way that ear pain can develop. Paying extra attention to body movements such as flexing the jaw and face is the first step. Runners who notice that they do this a lot can try shaking their head from side to side a few times to loosen it. This should help them feel better.
Making Sure Ears Won’t Hurt After Running
Those whose ears hurt after running often first prioritize aches and pains in other parts of the body. However. it’s a common problem with simple solutions. Heeding the above advice should put an end to ear discomfort for nearly all runners. Anyone who continues to struggle may want to consider scheduling an appointment with their doctor to rule out any underlying causes such as an ear infection.