Running is a passion for most runners and they enjoy being healthy to be able to run. Staying physically fit is a very important aspect in a runner’s life to run long distances, without being sick. However, stomach cramps after running is a common problem, experienced by many runners. Causes of stomach cramps after running, can be many; some may be natural while some may indicate an underlying health problem.

Stomach cramps can be of mainly two types; the first one is called ‘stitches’ where the runner feels abdominal muscles cramp known as ‘stitches’, while the other one is gastrointestinal pain similar to indigestion. When the cause of stomach cramps after running is stitches, it usually goes off after a rest period. However, when gastrointestinal cause results in stomach cramps, it does not go off easily and may need medical attention.

Stomach pain, whether mild or severe should not be neglected, as it can also signify serious medical problems. Conditions like inflammatory diseases or ulcers too can be the causes of stomach cramps after running. Hence, it is important to address stomach cramps before it becomes disabling or even fatal. To be able to deal with it, it is important to understand the major causes of stomach cramps after running.

What Can Cause Stomach Cramps after Running?

What Can Cause Stomach Cramps after Running?

Some of the common causes of stomach cramps after running include:

Dehydration is One of the Causes of Stomach Cramps after Running

One of the most common cause of stomach cramps or pain after running is dehydration. Studies reveal that water acts as a natural lubricant in the gastrointestinal tract and ensures proper absorption of nutrients. Water also helps balance electrolytes such as potassium and sodium, thus helping in proper metabolism. Adequate water intake helps in muscle repair and preventing contraction or spasms, thus protecting muscles from cramping. Proper hydration while running can help runners to prevent stomach cramps after running.

Rapid Breathing – A Cause of Stomach Cramps

Another common cause of stomach cramps after running is tight and rapid breaths. Such breaths cause spasms in abdominal muscles while running. Slow breaths tend to increase abdominal muscles spasms and can cause stomach cramps and pain after running. It is advisable for runners to practice steady, relaxed and powerful breaths during a run as it can help delay cramping and improve performance.

Tight Clothing can Cause Stomach Cramps after Running

A cause of stomach cramp which many may fail to realize is the kind of clothing, worn during running. Tight belts and constrictive clothing are some of the main causes of stomach cramps. Tight waistband or running outfit, which are constrictive around the chest or abdominal area influences breathing. Tight clothing does not allow proper stomach expansion, which is essential to allow free breathing while running, which can also cause cramps in the stomach. Running outfits which have a sufficiently loose waistband or belt, allow natural breathing and help to prevent stomach cramps after running.

Heavy Food – Another Cause of Stomach Cramps after Running

Eating heavy food or foods that are difficult to digest prior to running can cause stomach cramps after running. The gut has to work hard to ensure proper digestion of heavy and fatty foods, which can affect running performance and can often result in stomach cramps. Foods which stress the gut must be avoided to prevent stomach cramps after running. As fats take a long time to be digested, they are better avoided. Foods which are high in complex carbs, fiber and proteins are best for runners. Low-sugar beverages are great for runners while solid foods such as bananas or toasted bread are great before a run.

Imbalance of Blood Electrolytes Can Cause of Stomach Cramps after Running

Runners can experience an imbalance of blood electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and calcium due to several factors. This can cause immense pain in the stomach leading to cramps during and after running. It is vital to maintain a healthy balance of electrolytes in the body and get it evaluated regularly, to prevent stomach cramps after running.

Reduced Blood Flow to Intestine Can Cause Stomach Cramps after Running

Another common cause of stomach cramps after running is the decreased flow of blood to the intestine. When a runner runs for a long time, the body diverts blood flow to the muscles which are working hard to allow the runner to keep running. This affects the blood circulation in other body parts. If runners experience severe stomach cramps, it is advisable to stop and take rest allowing the blood to flow to all the body parts and not concentrate on the working muscles only.

Stomach Cramps after Running Caused Due to Stomach Ailments

It is important to know that the cause of stomach cramps after running can also be an underlying stomach ailment. Ailments like inflammatory bowel diseaseappendicitis or complications of ulcers, etc. can cause severe stomach cramps and will need medical attention. Runners need to get themselves evaluated to ensure they are medically fit for running. Also, when runners experience stomach cramps after running that lasts for long or are associated with other symptoms, it is essential to seek medical opinion at the earliest.

Knowing the causes of stomach cramps after running will help to understand the possible conditions and enable runners to manage the condition effectively. It is important for runners to pay attention to their body signals. Seeking medical help is advisable, as required to prevent stomach cramps after running.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Last Modified On: September 13, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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