One In Three Women Runners Report Breast Pain

One in every three women runners will experience breast pain (mastalgia), according to a new UK report published Friday in anticipation of the upcoming London Marathon which will run Sunday. St. Mary’s University College’s Dr. Nicola Brown and colleagues wanted to calculate just how frequently marathon runners are affected by mastalgia and how severe the problem really is.

They surveyed almost 1,400 women who participated in the 2012 London Marathon to discover that a stunning 32 percent of the 1,300 runners who completed the questionaire admitted to experiencing breast pain. Ouch. The study appeared in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Over half of the women runners said that their breast pain was strong enough to be uncomfortable, and 17 percent said that their symptoms have been strong enough to affect their exercise routines.

Unfortunately, the bigger the cup size, the more likely the woman was to experience breast pain. More vigorous exercise was also more likely to cause pain than moderate or light exercise.

Childless women also had a slightly larger risk of breast pain, with around 35 percent reporting mastalgia. About 28 percent of mothers experienced the pain.


That isn’t really a huge difference and, anyway, having a kid is probably too extreme a treatment for experiencing some pain while jogging. According to the survey results, most women — about nine out of ten — try to prevent pain by wearing sports bras while running.

However, with one-third of women runners experiencing breast pain even though the overwhelming majority already wear extra support, the researchers suggested that athletic clothing manufacturers probably need to take another look at their designs.

Don’t throw rotten vegetables, but I’m going to recommend a completely different approach that works for me. If running hurts you, find a less-jolting, lower-impact exercise that doesn’t cause breast pain. Leave the marathon running to women who are built for it.

[woman runner photo by Sergey Mironov via Shutterstock]