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Old 05-23-07, 06:33 AM   #1
CranialCrusader
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Breathing hurts when I bike

This is my second year of riding my bike. Last year I noticed that when I am on a bike for a "long" time, say more than two hours, but sometimes as little as one hour my lungs/diaphram start to get sore when I breathe in past a certain point. I think that this point starts to get shallower and shallower as time goes on.

It's not a very sharp pain, but is very annoying. It's basically about the middle of my chest and it almost feels like I have a sore muscle. Sometimes it even still hurts the day after, like now.

Some background:
-I remember getting this feeling when I was a kid if I swam at a pool for a long time, although it was never as bad as it gets on a bike
-I've run two marathons in my life (not super fast, but still) and I only RARELY get this problem running, and then it's very minor.
-No one else I ride with experiences these symptoms
-I've asked multiple doctors about it and they don't know either

Does anyone else experience this and/or know what it is?

Thanks!!
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Old 05-23-07, 07:27 AM   #2
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It may be exercise induced asthma. I have this problem from time to time after periods of very high exertion. My chest hurts, my breath gets more shallow, and I cough when I try to inhale deeply. You may need an asthma inhaler.
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Old 05-23-07, 07:39 AM   #3
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I've ruled out exercise induced asthma because I rarely experience these symptoms while running. I can get my heart rate much higher running than I can biking.

Last October I ran 20 miles in training in just over 3 hours and had no such symptoms, yesterday I biked 41 miles in ~2 hours 30 minutes and my chest is still sore today if I breathe in past 80% of a full breath. (The marathon I ran wasn't as good as that training run due to cramping issues, but that's another topic!)

Thanks
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Old 05-23-07, 07:44 AM   #4
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I've got the exact same thing, including the swimming as a kid part. It's like taking a deep breath hurts just a bit. The deeper the breath, the more pain.

I've found that increased fitness levels basically eliminate the problem. My hypothesis is that when I was a kid, I was too busy having fun to notice that I was really out of shape. And swimming means a lot of breathing and holding breath, etc. So the diaphragm gets a pretty good workout. As an adult, I only notice it after long rides early in the season (as in out of shape) and have little or no problem with it later on in the year if I'm riding consistently.

My guess is that we have congenitally weaker diaphragms and it takes a little exercise to get them up to snuff.

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Old 05-23-07, 10:21 AM   #5
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I'd recommend you avoid it then (breathing that is) .

When biking your chest is probably much more constricted than when running (since your hands are on the handlebars and your back is curved). So you may do more diaphram breathing vs. ribcage breathing. Just a thought.
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Old 05-23-07, 10:38 AM   #6
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My wild guess would be bike position. Look at yourself in a mirror or get someone to take photos when you're on your trainer. I'm guessing that your back isn't straight from hips to shoulders. That would constrict your lungs and make it hard to breathe. If that's the case, try rotating your hips forward, trying to put a hollow in your lower back. Drop your stomach toward the top tube. Breathe into your stomach first, then fill your chest. If that's hard to do, try stretching after a ride to free up your hips and back.
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Old 05-23-07, 01:16 PM   #7
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I had that in Track in HS and when swimming too. I was actually tested for heart disease but it turned out to be irritated chest wall muscles. Some rest and ibuprofen did the trick. It could be exacerbated by your position on the bike. Do you have a bike with an upright riding position to see if you get the same issues?
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Old 05-24-07, 02:29 PM   #8
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We used to get this alot here in So. Cal. when the smog problem was much worse than it is now. It kinda felt almost like a burning sensation with deep breaths. If it's not asthma, it's hard to say why it would be bike related. It might be that where and when you ride is different than when you run. Maybe more exposure to car exhaust fumes or something? Reaching, I know...


I've started getting something similar at the start of my rides, but it clears up as the ride progresses. Makes me think it might be more related to muscle tightness, or some perhaps some form of pulmonary tightness that eases up as the body warms up. If it's pulmonary, wouldn't that be asthma?
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