Have you ever experienced stomach pain after exercising? Chances are, like most people, from time to time you’ve experienced a twinge and wondered, what the heck is going in there? Perhaps you’ve vowed off exercising for a while, particularly if you believe it’s the cause of your upset stomach. But wait, before retiring that gym card, let us share the possible reasons for stomach pain after exercising.
Post-workout pain can be the result of one or several factors, this includes diet or exercise. Instead of avoiding exercise altogether, it’s a good idea to change up your workout routine. This is the simplest way to avoid the most common causes.
Bare in mind, that while these factors play an important role in stomach pain after exercising, severe gastrointestinal symptoms can indicate more serious problems, so it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor if your symptoms persist.
Dehydration and stomach pain
Dehydration can significantly alter the balance in the GI tract, particularly if you have lost 4% of your body weight or more. Issues of dehydration are most commonly found among long distance runners. Those who partake in this sport, overall have a harder time maintaining hydration.
If long distance running is your sport of choice, it’s a good idea to invest in a hydration belt, hydration pack or vest, or simply stopping for drink breaks. This way, the body never gets to the point where it’s severely dehydrated, preventing the onset of stomach pains after exercising.
For more varied workouts, you can easily maintain hydration by drinking 400-600 milliliters of water or sports drinks before exercising. Whenever you can, try and have short breaks during workouts, so you can drink water, and try to re-hydrate after finishing your exercise routine.
Dietary Causes Of Stomach Pains
If you’re just about to work out, it’s a good idea to skip that cheese burger or steak lunch. What you eat and when you eat, has a huge impact on how you feel during and after a workout. A large meal with high protein and fat content will slow down your digestive system, leading to and causing stomach pains. If you are involved with resistance exercises, such as long distance runs, consider your dietary patterns prior to the race.
Each nutrient passes through the GI tract at various speeds. For example, carbohydrates are easily broken down and easily absorbed, while fiber rich food, fat, protein pass more slowly. On the day before you exercise, try and decrease the intake of “slow moving” foods to put an end to stomach pain after exercise.
High Intensity Exercise
Post-exercise stomach pain is most common when exercising at a high intensity. When there’s a competitive element to sports, people tend to push themselves further than they normally would, which may cause abdominal pain. To combat this, focus on training rather than competition.
If you are training outside a competitive arena, you can work up to your personal intensity level. When training for a competition, make sure your training follows the conditions of the competition as closely as possible. By switching your focus to conditioning your body, there will be less episodes of post-exercise stomach pain. Over time, many athletes alter their workout, and have less gastrointestinal complaints as a result.
Is High Intensity Exercises For Everyone?
For those regularly suffering from stomach discomfort during exercise, high intensity exercising may not be the best for them. There has even been studies that show that constant strenuous exercise may impair the gut .
“The stress response of prolonged vigorous exercise shuts down gut function,” states author Ricardo Costa a senior researcher with the department of nutrition, dietetics and food at Monash University in Australia. .
“The redistribution of blood flow away from the gut and towards working muscles creates gut cell injury that may lead to cell death, leaky gut, and systemic immune responses due to intestinal bacteria entering general circulation,” Costa continued.
Researchers have made a distinct correlation between impaired gut function and the duration and intensity of exercise. This phenomenon is so common it has been named the “exercise-induced gastrointestinal syndrome.”
Research has shown that two hours of intense exercise is the window of time when gut issues tend to appear. It’s usually following two hours of continuous endurance exercise that 60 percent of people reach their maximum intensity level. It is after this period that gut damage is likely to occur. Costa states the sports that regularly cross this threshold are are running and cycling.
So if you are involved in high intensity sports, for two hours or more, this could explain the reasons for your stomach pains.
Do My Stomach Issues Mean No Exercise?
Not at all! Dr. Elena Ivanina, a senior gastroenterology reveals that while intense training can have a negative impact on the stomach for some people, she adds that exercising in moderation has been proven to actually protect the gut.
“Specifically, through exercise, patients can maintain a healthy weight and avoid the consequences of obesity,” she said. Obesity has been associated with many GI diseases, such as gallbladder disease; fatty liver disease; gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD); and cancer of the esophagus, stomach, liver and colon. Regular moderate physical activity also lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and depression.
One of the ways that experts recommend to stop exercise-related gut problems, is to stay hydrated, and try to eat healthy carbohydrates and protein before and during exercise.
Stomach Problems for Swimmers
Most of us like a dip in the pool now and then, and some have taken up swimming as a way to stay in shape. While swimming can be pleasurably in itself, it can also be followed by cramping, stomach pains and nausea. So why does this happen, and what can you do to prevent it?
First off, there can be a variety of reasons for stomach pains after swimming. Some of them may be due to things like constipation or even abdominal straining. Also, bare in mind, as you swim you’re constantly ducking in the water, and taking large gulps of air. A by product of doing this means you may feel bloated or have symptoms of nausea. The best way to combat this is to eat smaller meals before swims.
Also, keeping your core muscles strong is another way to, not only improve your swimming, but reduce stomach pain after exercising, along with cramping and bloating.
How to deal with stomach pain after exercising – swimmer tips
Just like when any other exercise, when you notice pain during exercise, changing the routine works wonders. For a majority of people cramping, and pain happens while doing belly-down strokes. Quick solution, just turn onto your back and slow down the pace until the pain reduces. Another tip would be to tread water for a few minutes,while staying above the water surface.
There’s a lot to be said about breathing properly when it comes to swimming. Instead of turning your head to breathe and getting a mouthful of water, look under your armpit instead of forward. When returning your face into the water, exhale slowly through your mouth.
Stomach pain after lifting weights
Issues of stomach pain after lifting weights is a common one. When someone bears down to lift up a weight, they naturally hold their breath. This simple action, that most people perform while strength training, forces the stomach contents up along with the acid in the esophagus. Aside from stomach pain after exercising, this can lead to indigestion and heartburn. Studies in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. have shown that weight lifters, in general, have more acid reflux than any other sport engagement, including running and cycling.
This type of stomach pain after exercising has a quick fix, simply take an antacid during workout. Keeping constantly hydrated will also help to flush that acid downwards. Focus on exhaling while contracting muscles to lift the weight, ensuring that you inhale slowly when you release for every rep.
Try and have your meals earlier. For many people, a late night meal could turn up as the next days workout heartburn. Since digestion dramatically slows down while we sleep, it’s wiser to eat dinner at least four hours or more before bedtime
At night, try sleeping at a slated angle with a couple of pillow so that the acid doesn’t rise up. If you suffer from back problems just use one pillow.
Can Stomach Pain Be Related To Cold Weather?
If you do suffer from stomach pain after exercising, it may be worth checking the weather. You may be wondering how exercise and weather are related. Well, more closely than you think. When exercising in cold weather, this can play a major role in your post-workout stomach pain. The main cause for stomach pain during cold weather is a decrease in muscle circulation, this elevates the chances of muscular tension in the abdominal area.
So how to counteract this? Find ways to warm the abdominal muscles before exercise. This will dramatically reduce the risk of stomach pain after exercising. The warm-up exercises can be performed indoors, and the exercises can continue outside. Additional to this, when you exercise in colder weather, make sure you dress accordingly, so your body retains heat.
If you are still having stomach pain after exercise, particularly when you’ve tried all the treatments above, it’s worth seeing your healthcare practitioner. Below is a video for simple tips for stomach aches by Pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears.