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What is Runners Stomach?

Runner’s stomach occurs fairly often in runners, especially those who run long distances. You may have heard runner’s stomach being referred to as runner’s gut, and runner’s trot.

Runner’s stomach is used to describe how your stomach can often feel if you have recently been on a run. There are a number of different symptoms that you can experience with runner’s stomach.

The symptoms can vary from person to person. It can vary in severity quite significantly. 

Runner’s stomach is a blanket term that covers the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Dehydration
  • Nausea

These are the typical symptoms of runner’s stomach. However, some people may also experience:

  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Constipation

The symptoms experienced will vary from person to person, and in severity. While it is not a pleasant experience, it typically only lasts up to 24 hours after running, and it is a fairly common occurrence.

The exact known causes of runner’s stomach is not fully known, and there are a number of different potential causes. Typically, exercise, especially long distance running can have an effect on the digestive system.

In addition to this, factors such as stress and anxiety can cause runner’s stomach. This is particularly prevalent if you already suffer from stress induced illnesses such as IBS.

The food that you consume in the days leading up to and the day of the event can also contribute to runner’s stomach. It is thought that when running for long periods, the blood flow is focused on the cardiovascular system rather than the digestive system. Given this, the digestive system can be disrupted.

Why is my stomach sore after running?

As we have discussed in the previous question, the main reason why your stomach will be sore after running is due to runner’s stomach.

The majority of people that experience runner’s stomach will have diarrhea. Leading up to the bouts of diarrhea, it is very common for the runner’s stomach to be sore. This is due to the cramping that occurs.

Even after the diarrhea and cramping has passed, it is very likely that your stomach will feel sore. This is likely because of what your digestive system has just gone through. Not only is diarrhea unpleasant, but it can cause your digestive system to feel irritated, sore and sensitive. Your stomach may feel sore for a number of hours after this.

In addition to this, if you are experiencing nausea or even vomiting, this can further irritate your stomach and make it feel sore.

If you have not experienced runner’s stomach and your stomach is still feeling sore, this is likely muscle pain. While you are predominantly using your leg muscles while running, it is still a full body workout to some extent.

You will be engaging your stomach muscles as you run. Even if you are an experienced runner, it is likely that your stomach muscles will feel sore after you have run a long distance. The stomach muscles are still an important part of running, even though you may not necessarily realize how much they are being used during the work-out.

When thinking about running in general, your diaphragm is working overtime. Given this, the muscles surrounding it naturally are going to feel sore, especially if you are at the beginning of your running journey.

How do you cure a runner's stomach?

When it comes to curing runner’s stomach, this is a little more difficult than it may seem. This is because there is not one singular cause to this problem. Runners can experience this problem for a number of different reasons, and what may work for some, may be unsuitable for others.

However, there are a number of different things that you can try to help prevent. One of the main things that can help is your diet. In the days leading up to, and the day of your event, you should try to eat food that is good for your and your digestive system.

If there are certain types of food that trigger these symptoms, you will want to avoid eating these completely. It is worth noting that some sports drinks or gels can have a negative effect on your digestive system.

Some runners will choose to use Imodium on the day of the race to help prevent an unexpected bout of runner’s stomach, though this is not recommended for anything other than short term use.

It is important to remain hydrated. Some runners find that probiotics are helpful to consume. Helping to work through your stress and anxiety can also have a positive effect on your digestive system too.

What may work for some, may not work for others. If this is something you are particularly worried about, we would recommend chatting with your physician about this. 


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