There's nothing more annoying than getting into a zone while you're running, only to find yourself suddenly sidetracked by intense stomach spasms. When your abdominal muscles cramp up when you're exercising, it can be hard to keep going. There are a few simple things you can do to help relieve the cramps or even prevent them in the first place. But remember, if you get severe cramping in your stomach that won't go away, you might need to see a doctor.
Identify the Source
Identifying the source of your cramping will help you know how to treat it. Gastrointestinal cramping occurs when your stomach cramping progresses into heartburn, gas, burping, nausea, vomiting, urgent bowel movement or diarrhea. These problems are often related to digestion issues. Another common type of stomach cramping is a side stitch. Side-stitch symptoms include a severe stabbing pain around the lower part of your ribcage. A spasm in your diaphragm muscle is usually the culprit and may be caused by exercising too intensely or dehydration. If your pain is severe, you should see a doctor to identify the exact cause.
If you start feeling intense cramping in your stomach, the first thing you should do is rest. Cramping can sometimes be caused by exercising too intensely, so slowing down may help the pain subside if the cramping isn't too severe. If you have a side stitch, deep breathing while you're resting can also help lessen the cramping. If your pain is intense, then you may need to stop exercising altogether and wait until the next day to work out again.
If you experience cramping while you're exercising, try drinking water in case the pain is simply being caused by dehydration. However, be careful not to overfill your stomach. When you drink too much too quickly, you can make the pain worse. You should also make it a habit to drink some water or a sports drink before you even start your workout so you can prevent the cramps from happening at all.
Do Torso Twists
Always warm up before you work out to decrease the likelihood that you'll get a side stitch. One good warm up is the torso twist because it loosens up your abdominal muscles. A torso twist simply involves lifting your arms over your head and leaning to the left and to the right. If side stitches are a common problem for you, you might find that doing this simple stretch before every workout helps eliminate the problem.
Establishing healthy eating habits can help diminish gastrointestinal cramping that happens during your workout. Don't eat any closer than two hours before you exercise, so your body has time to fully digest your meal. Don't have high-fat or fiber-rich foods too close to your workout because these are harder to digest once you start moving intensely. Instead, choose a moderate amount of protein and easy-to-digest carbs like fruit.
With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.