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Why Your Ears Hurt When Running: 7 Common Causes

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Do your ears hurt when you run? Sometimes ear pain results from weather-related changes, and other times, the weather does not play a role. If you are asking yourself, “why do my ears hurt when I run” you are in the right place for answers!

7 Common Reasons for Ear Pain While Running

  1. Earbuds
  2. Blood Vessel Constriction
  3. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
  4. Ruptured Eardrum
  5. Cold Temperatures
  6. Wind
  7. Clenched Jaw

Earbuds: A Love-Hate Relationship

Earbuds are a fantastic invention. They allow you to have great sound quality in a very small device that nestles snugly in your ear. There are some negatives to earbuds, however. If they do not fit properly, they can put pressure on your ear.

You want to choose earbuds of various sizes so that you can use the ones that are perfectly shaped to your ear canal. You may also notice that some brands have buds specified as “left” or “right.” Be sure you place them in the correct ear. 

In addition, you should clean your earbuds regularly. When they are done, too many people remove their earbuds and pop them right into the holding or charging case. 

Some people find that earbuds hurt their ears no matter what kind, brand, shape, or size. If you are one of those people, there are other options for you.

Wearable speakers are an excellent alternative. 

Blood Vessel Constriction

Your blood vessels can be constricted when training hard, running at a high altitude, or running in cold weather. This can cause ear pain in the athlete.

If you are running at a high altitude, there is not much you can do to alleviate this discomfort. This is one reason why athletes planning a race at a higher altitude travel there ahead of time to give the body some time to adjust.

If the construction is caused by cold weather, you can help prevent this by wearing a hat or ear band. Keeping the ears warm helps for many reasons.


I know this will sound crazy but hear me out. GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) causes acid to work its way up into your esophagus. Most people know that this can cause a sore throat or nausea, but did you know it can cause ear pain?

The constant running movement can cause an athlete’s GERD to act up and trigger a higher level of stomach acid. If you are prone to GERD, consider taking an acid reducer before you run. 

Ear Infection or Ruptured Eardrum

It is possible that you have something else going on, and the exertion of running exacerbates the pain. If you have mild ear pain throughout the day and it gets worse when exercising, it is possible you should see a doctor.

There are sicknesses and health conditions that involve the ears that can get more painful when running or doing other exercises. 

Tense Running

Some runners run much too tense. This can manifest in many ways, including runners who clench their jaw as they run.  If you get frequent earaches (and possibly other symptoms such as jaw and neck pain), this may be your problem. 

Making a conscious effort to run more relaxed may be exactly what you need to get rid of this type of ear pain.

Weather-Related Ear Pain

Wondering why do my ears hurt when I run outside? If the issue only happens when you are outdoors, it is most likely external forces at work. This is especially true when running in the cold and wind. Both cold temps and strong winds can irritate your ear canal. 

First, if your ear is unprotected and the cold air can reach your ear canal, the air on the eardrum can equal pain. Also, our ears don’t have fat to protect them from the elements. It is pretty easy to protect yourself from weather, whether that means cold temps or harsh winds. 

All you need is a warm hat or headband that can cover your ears. Both of these items can keep your head and ears protected, even in very extreme temperatures. 

Why Does Your Inner Ear Hurt When Running?

If the inner ear pain you are experiencing is not caused by something mentioned earlier in this article and happens during all kinds of exercises, there is another possible explanation.

Heavy or strenuous exertion can cause intracranial pressure. This can mean pressure on your ears, which can cause pain. 

Some people also hold their breath when they exert themselves hard, which can also lead to pressure. This pressure can mean pain. 

Hoping We Could Take the Pressure Off…

Is the ear pressure you feel after running explained for you now? Whether it is caused by a health issue such as GERD, the level of exertion you are experiencing, or weather, there are steps you can take to alleviate the pain and discomfort. 

Here’s hoping you can get back to doing what you love pain-free.

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