Avoid Digestional Cramping During Exercise

Endurance athletes, especially runners, are no strangers to digestional cramping: that feeling during a good run or cardio session that has you sprinting towards the bathroom instead of the finish line.

Cramping and discomfort are extremely common among athletes and runners and have been known to hinder, slow, and some times even prevent performance. Unfortunately, there is no exact known cause for this discomfort. Several researches believe that the cause of the pain is the continuous shaking and jostling of the internal organs during an extended workout, often make worse by when and what is consumed as a pre-exercise meal or snack.

A recent study reported that drinking fruit drinks or drinks high in sugar, eating dairy, high-fiber foods, and carbohydrates just before or during exercise initiates the pain.  A few ways to help reduce the risk of digestional cramping is to warm up before exercise and to avoid eating large meals before your exercise session. The more food and liquid you have moving around in your system, the better the chance your bowels are going to object.

If you continue to experience these pains, however, and they continue to interrupt or prevent your workouts, I recommend visiting your physician as soon as possible.

If you have continued digestional cramping and discomfort, try:

  • Hydrating hours before exercise. Remember, water is always best.
  • Avoiding drinks high in sugar, dairy, and carbohydrates, like fruit drinks and smoothies.
  • Stretching before exercise, especially the abdominal muscles.
  • Avoid eating too much right before exercise. A small snack including lots of protein is perfect.
  • Control your breathing. Try to breathe regularly; no short or quick breaths.
  • If pain continues to occur, please visit your physician.

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