For many people running is not just a part of athletic participation, but a source of strength and joy. However, many runners experience stomach pains during and after running, especially athletes. Pain may arise either due to cramps in abdominal muscles or as a result of gastrointestinal upset. Stomach pain after running is frequently observed among long distance runners.
The pain is excruciating and in the form of muscle stitch. The gastrointestinal cramps may accompany with other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, bloating and eructation after running. Sometimes, stomach cramps post exercise can indicate serious health problem such as stomach ulcer or inflammatory bowel disorders.
If the condition is left unattended, it may become a chronic problem sometimes even life threatening. Stomach cramps can be easily treated and in most cases they can be prevented by taking necessary precautions before running.
What Causes Stomach Cramps After Running?
There are several contributing factors that may be responsible for stomach cramps after running. The pain may be located in stomach, in intestine or on the sides of abdominal muscles.
- Dehydration is one of the major factors for cramps in abdominal muscles as well as in the intestine. A person may excessively sweat during running and this may lead to loss of fluid and essential minerals potassium and sodium from the body. These electrolytes are responsible for proper functioning of muscles. Their depletion can cause cramps and spasm of abdominal muscles. Water is also necessary for keeping the intestine and stomach well lubricated. It facilitates easy transition and absorption of nutrients from the intestine.
- During running a person tends to breathe vigorously and fast. This is suspected to reduce the oxygen supply in the muscles. Rapid breathing at the time of running may thus lead to cramps in stomach and abdominal muscles.
- Eating in excess or soon before running will increase the risk of pain and cramps in stomach after running. Especially eating heavy food consisting more of fat and protein just before running, increases the risk of pain in abdomen once you finish the race.
- Eating large amount of fiber containing foods or drinking caffeinated drinks before running can cause abdominal trouble post exercise. Both can irritate the stomach and intestine producing pain and cramps.
- Wearing tight clothes and belt around the abdomen while running can result in pain and cramps post running. Tight clothes and waistbands do not provide enough space for the stomach to expand while breathing thus attributing symptoms of pain and cramps in stomach and abdominal walls.
- If you have a history of colitis or appendicitis, you may suffer from pain in abdomen after running. If the pain is constant or becomes severe after running, the patient should be medically evaluated as soon as possible, especially if he has previous history of appendicitis.
How To Get Rid Of Stomach Cramps After Running?
Rest and re-hydration are essential part of treatment for alleviating pain in stomach caused after running. A gentle massage on stomach and abdomen will help to relax the cramps of abdominal muscles. Even ice fomentation is useful to relieve pain produced by spasms.
- Eat less before running to prevent intestinal pain after running. Eat and drink more of carbohydrates containing products at least one or two hour before you begin to run. Avoid high fiber containing food. Avoid protein and fried food before running.
- Eat food like banana one hour before running. Bananas will provide potassium which is usually depleted due to perspiration after running. Besides it helps to reduce cramps.
- Wear waistbands and clothes that may allow space for belly breathing. Elastic waistbands are effective in preventing pain after running.
- Drink cool water 30 minutes before running. Drinking water and electrolytes will reduce dehydration that occurs after running.