There are several benign causes of burning lungs & coughing after hard running, and what’s “hard” is subjective.

“Burning in the lungs and coughing after hard running are likely due to magnesium deficiency,” says Carolyn Dean, MD, ND – Medical Advisory Board Member of the non-profit Nutritional Magnesium Association at

“Magnesium makes muscles work properly, allowing calcium to cause muscle contraction and then pushing calcium out of the muscle cells to allow the relaxation phase.

“When there is a lack of magnesium, muscle cells in the bronchial tubes can go into spasm, tighten up and cause wheezing and burning and coughing.”

Try a magnesium citrate supplement in powder form. Follow directions; usually it’s one teaspoon twice per day.

Other Benign Causes of a Burning Sensation in the Lungs (with or without) a Cough after Running

Exercise-induced acid reflux. Wait 60-90 minutes after eating (even if it’s just an apple) before running and see what happens.

Exercise-induced asthma. This too is a possibility.

Being out of shape. Being de-conditioned can result in blood vessel constriction and excess mucus after you stop running, causing a burning feeling in the lungs and possibly a cough.


See a physician if you suspect exercise-induced asthma. As for reflux, this may diminish over time as your body gets more physically fit.

In general, poorly conditioned lungs will “burn” after you do a level of running that you’re not used to.

This situation is quite common. And see how a magnesium supplement works.

Two of my personal-training clients, men in their 20s, experienced this lung burn after they worked out hard (high intensity interval training) on the elliptical machine, something they hadn’t done before.

Though this isn’t the same as running, it was still hard work that their lungs and GI tract were not used to.

Dr. Dean, in practice for 35+ years and author of “The Magnesium Miracle,” is also a naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist, acupuncturist, lecturer and consultant.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.