Monday, June 24, 2024

How To Stop Stomach Cramps When Running

How Can You Get Rid Of A Side Stitch

Tummy Cramps While Running : 5 Tips to prevent Stomach cramps and side stitches

Sometimes, despite your best attempts at preventing a side stitch, the pain still comes on and you just have to deal with it.

When it comes to relieving ETAP, there is no one thing that seems to work for everyoneapart from stopping exercise, which isnt always possible or ideal, says Dr. Morton. Still, there are some side stitch treatment ideas that can help you feel better.

If youd rather not stopand the pain is not so bad that you cant continueDr. Morton says the first step is to slow down. Remind yourself that the pain will pass, usually quickly, but give yourself time to catch your breath and reduce any jolting to your abdomen.

Sports physical therapist and track specialist Wesley Spargo, M.S.P.T., of PhysioElite in Salt Lake City, tells SELF there are some quick tricks to tame the pain so you can make it through your workout.

Take deep breaths and press on the area, he says. Try to breathe by filling your entire abdominal area with air and match your exhale with the length of your inhale. Focusing on the breath will help your nervous system chill out, which can help ease the pain as well.

If that isnt enough, create space in the diaphragm area through movement, which you can do through a variation of a stretch youre probably already familiar with: the forward fold.

If you are still in pain, Dr. Marko says to slowly walk with your hands over your head to stretch out your abdomen. You can also lie on your back with your hips elevated, she says.

Do This The Next Time You Feel A Side Stitch While Running Coming On

These kinds of cramps will almost always go away on their own, but you can try these techniques to get the pain to dissipate sooner.

  • Focus on maintaining relaxed, even breathing.
  • Slow down and place your hand around the area that hurts.
  • As you exhale, pinch the area between your fingers and thumb. Relax your hand as you inhale.
  • Continue this pattern for five or six breaths.
  • If that doesnt work, stop running. Simply stopping is usually enough for the cramp to go away.
  • What Causes Cramps While Running

    The origin of a cramp depends on the type.

    • Side cramp or ”stitch”: This cramp strikes you in the side, as the name implies, or even in the lower abdominal area. It’s mainly the result of shallow breathing, not breathing deeply from the lower lung, says Jeff Galloway, a 1972 Olympian. He’s a veteran runner who has trained more than 200,000 runners and walkers and runs a marathon-training program. ”The side pain is a little alarm” alerting you about your breathing, Galloway says. An imbalance of bloodelectrolytes in your body may also contribute, says Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist and fitness instructor with Function First in San Diego.
    • Stomach cramps: Again this could be related to how you’re breathing, Galloway says. Or it could be something you ate or drank before your workout. “If you have put too much fluid or food in your stomach, you can’t get a large breath,” Galloway says. If your levels of sodium, potassium, and calcium are off-kilter, that could contribute to stomach cramps, too, McCall says.

    • Muscle cramps: When your leg muscles cramp up on you, dehydration is often to blame, McCall says.

    When your leg muscles cramp up on you, dehydration is often to blame. — exercise physiologist Pete McCall

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    Massage With Essential Oils For Pain Relief

    Massaging your skin with certain aromatic essential oils can relieve menstrual cramp pain, according to research published in The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research. Investigators asked 48 women with menstrual cramps and other symptoms to massage either essential oils or a synthetic fragrance into their lower abdomen between periods.

    Women in both groups reported less pain, but the essential oils group did better. Based on the womenâs reports, researchers found that the duration of pain was reduced by almost a half a day after self-massaging with the essential oils.

    Some oils thought to be helpful include lavender essential oil, clary sage essential oil, and .

    Just be sure youre using essential oils safely. Buy high-quality oils that are tested for purity. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy suggests diluting pure essential oils in an unscented cream, lotion, or carrier oil before placing it on your skin to avoid irritation.

    Why Do You Get Cramps While Running

    Tummy Cramps While Running : 5 Tips to prevent Stomach cramps and side ...

    Runners of all experience levels are likely familiar with cramps. Whether its a side stitch, a muscle spasm in your leg or tummy-turning stomach pain, a cramp can turn a good run, workout or race from enjoyable to miserable in a matter of seconds. There are many possible causes of cramps, and if you can pinpoint the reason behind yours, you can prevent them in the future.

    What causes cramps?

    There could be a number of reasons why youre experiencing cramps, and these reasons depend on where your cramp is occurring.

    Stomach cramps: stomach cramps could be because of shallow breathing or poor digestion from eating or drinking too much before your run. If you have too much food or liquid in your stomach, its more difficult to take a large breath.

    Side cramps: Sometimes referred to as side stitches, these typically occur just below the rib cage and are usually a result of shallow breathing or an electrolyte imbalance.

    Muscle cramps: If youre experiencing cramps or spasms in your legs or calves, this could be due to dehydration, poor stretching, inadequate carbohydrate intake or simply going too hard, too soon in a run.

    How to avoid cramps while running

    If your cramps are persistent despite your best effort, talk to your doctor. It could be that you have a vitamin deficiency or you have some other underlying condition causing your cramps, which you should address as soon as possible.

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    Ask The Dietitian: Fueling Runs On A Sensitive Stomach


    What are your thoughts and advice for fueling with a sensitive stomach?Tanja Alsfasser, Vancouver, BC

    Nothing is faster to dampen mid-run euphoria than stomach cramps. Cramping can be debilitating, painful and put an unanticipated stop to your run. If you are experiencing intestinal distress a couple times or more a week, consider the following:

    1. Time it right.Plan to wait at least two hours after eating a meal to go for a run. Some runners have stomachs of steel and can handle running shortly after lunch, but if you are one that has a sensitive stomach, you may have to wait up to four hours. Allow for as much time as needed for your food to digest.

    If you prefer to run first thing in the morning, you can get away with running on an empty stomach if your run is going to be an hour or less at an easy pace. However, if you plan on a longer, more strenuous run, you might think about setting an alarm to get up to eat 2-4 hours before and then go back to bed. Eating just half a banana or sports gel right before a workout has been shown to improve stamina and performance. Liquid calories work as well, but be sure not to overdo it to avoid the annoying water belly. Be aware that caffeine may upset your stomach, so take it easy on the coffee.

    Editors Note: This is an installment in our online Ask the Dietitian column with Maria Dalzot, MS, RD, CDN and an avid trail runner. You can visit her blog at and submit your nutrition questions to.

    Stomach Pain After Running Here Are 12 Possible Causes + Fixes

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    We often think of musculoskeletal injuries like shin splints and IT band syndrome when we think of pain after running, but many runners also deal with various types of stomach pain after running.

    While not typically a running injury per se, stomach pain while running or after a workout can still significantly compromise your training as well as your comfort level for the rest of the day.

    In this guide, we will address stomach problems in runners as we look at different causes of stomach pain after running and how to prevent an upset stomach after running.

    We will cover:

    • Why Are Stomach Problems Common In Runners?
    • What Types Of Stomach Issues Are Common In Runners?
    • Stomach Pain After Running? Here Are 12 Possible Causes
    • How to Prevent Stomach Problems When You Run


    Lets dive in!

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    Know Your Lactose Tolerance

    Lactose is sugar that is found in dairy products. Some people lack enough of the digestive enzyme known as lactase to properly break down this sugar. This is what is commonly known as lactose intolerance. If you have this condition, eating certain amounts of dairy can cause stomach cramping and diarrhea.

    Interestingly, you can develop lactose intolerance later in life, even if you previously were able to tolerate dairy. Lactase production decreases over time for certain people based on genetic factors. For others, a gastrointestinal infection or inflammatory bowel disease may cause secondary lactose intolerance.

    If you are experiencing stomach cramps when running, try taking a closer look at the ingredients in your pre-run meal. Is there a lot of dairy in your meal? If so, nix the dairy for a few weeks and see if you notice any improvements.

    If the cramps disappear when you cut dairy, you may have lactose intolerance or a dairy sensitivity, and it is worth discussing with your doctor. If there is no improvement, dairy likely was not the issue.

    Swimming And Muscle Cramps

    Stomach Aches After Running – 4 Rules to Avoid Pain

    According to an article in Extreme Tri magazine, cramping while swimming is fairly common. They attribute the cramping to an inappropriate action of plantar flexing in your foot. Plantar flexing occurs when all the muscles of the leg form a rigid line from your calf all the way to the toes. Its an ideal position for the foot in that it allows the foot to maximize the water contacted, allowing for more speed. The problem is, holding this position is the chief cause of the cramp.

    • According to an article in Extreme Tri magazine, cramping while swimming is fairly common.
    • They attribute the cramping to an inappropriate action of plantar flexing in your foot.

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    When To Stop Running

    Even if youre dead set on making it to the end, its important to listen to your bodyand know when youre better off calling it quits. Dizziness, lightheadedness, a headache, or actual vomiting are all signs that you should stop running, rest, and hydrate, Berookim says.

    As for future races? Bill Rodgers once quipped, More marathons are won or lost in the porta-toilets than at the dinner table. And he wasnt kidding. Rare is the distance runner who hasnt had some stomach or bowel distress during a race. And even though marathons arent often televised, there have been several famous cases of on-camera elites vomiting or ducking off course en route . While theres no surefire way to prevent runners stomach, these tactics can help.

    1. Stick with familiar foods. Your prerace dinner or breakfast isnt the time to try something new. Knowing that you naturally will be more jittery the morning of the race, practice your prerun meal just like you practice your run, Goodson says. Try a few breakfasts on long run days and see what works best. Once you find what works, stick to it.

    2. Dont eat within two hours of racing. Having your prerace breakfast early means you wont have still food in your stomach when you actually start running. Give your body enough time to digest before the running starts, even if that means eating something and then going back to sleep before early morning races.

    Hang Onto Good Form To Prevent Cramps

    The hamstrings and quads should always be working together when you run. Theyre like partners in your leg, working to push and pull your leg as you stride forward. If one is picking up the slack for the other, muscle fatigue is likely to set in, leading to cramping.

    Especially in a long-distance run like the marathon, good form powered by leg strength and balance is important.

    The hamstrings cramp when:

    • The upper body rounds forward, causing the low back sinks into a default arch
    • Your hips start to sink back
    • This lets the glutes turn off, which leave the hamstrings to drive the stride alone

    The quads cramp when:

    • Your foot strike becomes a shuffle and your cadence slows down
    • The hamstrings arent working to pick the feet up off the ground
    • This causes your feet to spend more time pounding into the ground than they are lifting off of it
    • Your quads take all the impact

    The calves cramp when:

    • The hips are no longer pushing forward.
    • Your hamstrings stop working to pull your feet off the ground, slowing your cadence
    • The feet begin landing in all kinds of varying positions.
    • Results in the calf muscles figuring out how to absorb the impact

    Check out more information about maintaining solid run form with Coach Nate:

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    How To Solve Running And Stomach Problems

    If none of the above apply to your stomach aches when running, it may be time to see a doctor.

    You want to rule out chronic conditions, like ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome.

    Nutrient timing, or the food you consume and when, around exercise sessions can make a big difference.

    You may want to do some trial and error around the times you eat and run.

    If you typically get up and run on an empty stomach and still experience runners bowel problems, try eating something first and letting it digest before you run.

    • Try Running on an Empty Stomach Alternatively, if you typically run right after a meal and feel uncomfortable, try running before the meal or on more of an empty stomach.
    • Mess Around With Your Pace and Time of Day You Run Maybe youre just not someone who can stomach running fast in hot weather. Can you run earlier in the day when its cooler? Or take speed runs on a treadmill?

    There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and many of us will have to do some troubleshooting to figure out what the triggers are for each of us.

    If you need more help with your personalized fueling plan, sign up for our endurance fueling course!

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    When To See A Doctor

    9 Tips On Preventing GI Distress When Running  RUNNER

    If youre frequently experiencing runners stomach, you may have a condition that isnt directly linked with running.

    Irritable bowel syndrome as well as celiac disease have similar symptoms to runners belly, but could be triggered by other factors and activities.

    You should talk to your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

    • episodes of diarrhea and cramping that happen more than once a week
    • nausea, gas, and bloating regardless of whether or not youve been running
    • bowel movements that are often runny, or blood in your stool

    Your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms to determine if what youre experiencing is a side effect of running or a different diagnosis. They may also order a colonoscopy to rule out any other possible conditions.

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    Can Dehydration Cause Side Stitches

    While popular belief once held that dehydration caused side stitches, theres just not a whole lot of research out there to back that up, says Dr. Mortonits mainly anecdotal. That doesnt mean that hydration doesnt matter at all, though. Like we mentioned before, avoiding chugging water during your runs can make a side stitch less likely to come on. And staying hydrated in general throughout the 12 hours before your activity is important for your bodys overall function, Dr. Morton says.

    Dont Eat Directly Before A Run

    Eating a meal minutes before you plan to sit on the couch and watch a movie is a great idea. But doing the same minutes before a run is a different story.

    Experts advise against drinking large amounts of water or eating within two hours of a run. A 2005 study in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that runners who consumed a large amount of food relative to their body weight one to two hours before a race were more likely to develop symptoms exercise-related transient abdominal pain , also known as a side stitch.

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    What To Eat And Drink

    To help prevent stomach cramps, consider what you eat before running, and see if there might be a connection, Galloway says. It might just be about digestion. Give yourself more time between eating and running.

    “If you have a problem eating 2 hours before, eat 3 hours before,” Galloway says.

    Also pay attention to what you eat and its effects on your running. “A simple carb by itself and water usually is fine,” Galloway says.

    It’s a matter of finding what works for you. For instance, Galloway says many people tell him they have gut problems after eating bananas, but not apples, before a run.

    To prevent muscle cramps, McCall also tells runners to get enough fluid before exercising. His advice:

    • Drink 16 to 20 ounces 45 minutes before training.
    • Drink 2 to 4 ounces every 15 minutes during a training session.
    • Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are naturally rich in water.

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