Many runners know the problem, but no one wants to talk about it. During competitions or intensive training sessions, the feeling often arises that one has to go to the toilet very urgently. It almost seems as if you are losing control of the entire gastrointestinal tract. If you also know this unpleasant problem, then our tips can help to stop abdominal pain when running.
Reasons for abdominal pain while running
The causes of abdominal pain that occur while running can be very versatile. As soon as the physical activity is increased, the hormonal balance also changes and the so-called motility in the abdomen increases. This means that the content in your belly is starting to move. Therefore, in many cases comes the sudden feeling of having to go to the toilet. In extreme situations such as a competition, however, other problems such as sudden diarrhea and acute digestive problems also occur.
Serious problems such as diarrhea and abdominal cramps are usually caused in the intestine. Physical activity restricts blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract to better care for the muscles. During running, however, the reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus can also increase, which also reports heartburn in many runners.
In most cases, the problems are related to the previously ingested food. Dairy products but also high-fiber meals can lead to fermentation processes and thus be the cause of abdominal pain while running. But fructose, gluten and sugar substitutes can also cause problems in the intestine or a bloating stomach.
In addition, the psyche also has a great influence on our digestive organs. Thus, the excitement before a competition can also lead to increased production of stomach acid or even functional disorders in the gastrointestinal tract. If the symptoms are very persistent, a clarification by a doctor is absolutely necessary.
Running empty – the solution stop abdominal pain when running?
Especially if you are already a bit advanced, it can be worth trying empty runs. Empty abdomens often do better and scientific studies have also shown that sober training can have a positive effect on performance. It is best to try a smaller run right after getting up in the morning. If you have a sensitive stomach, you should also avoid coffee or the like before running. Also make sure that you provide your body with enough energy in the form of carbohydrates the night before. After the run you will surely be looking forward to breakfast (preferably straight after stretching but before showering… this is when your muscles want to soak up the nutrients)!
Only eat easily digestible meals before running
If running on an empty stomach doesn’t work for you, then you should be sure of what you take before running. It is best to mix easily digestible carbohydrates (such as dates or ripe bananas) and possibly a small amount of fat (such as coconut or hemp oil). However, if you suspect that you will not tolerate fructose before running, you should first try it with a simple oatmeal or buckwheat.
Liquid food, gels and smoothies
It is well known that the body is more easily digested with already crushed food. (Green) smoothies are the perfect energy supplier before and after intense runs and competitions. If you’re not used to smoothies, you might even get additional digestive problems. Gels, which many runners swear by, can also be the cause of digestive problems due to their composition. Therefore, you should be careful with the smoothies and in general with liquid food and first try only small amounts.
In order for your body to get used to the strain of running training, you should definitely exercise regularly. Only in this way can your body adapt. If you can’t run as much or far, try it with an alternative training such as spinning, strength training or CrossFit. But even gentler workouts like yoga can be very helpful to get to grips with the pain in the abdomen while running. And, of course, nutrition in general also plays a major role. We recommend, no matter how sporty you are, a full-fledged, varied, plant-based diet with a high proportion of carbohydrates (HCLF).
Toilet use to stop abdominal pain when running
If you feel you need to go to the toilet, listen to this signal and go to the nearest toilet. If you hold it back, you’ll make it worse. In addition, a cramped abdomen also has a negative effect on your performance. In competitions, it is usually (at least as a recreational athlete) no problem at all to go to a toilet.