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Stomach Pains After Running

author image Martin Booe
Martin Booe writes about health, wellness and the blues. His byline has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and Bon Appetit. He lives in Los Angeles.
Stomach Pains After Running
Running may not be causing the pain so much as unmasking an underlying condition. Photo Credit nipastock/iStock/Getty Images

Stomach pains and other abdominal ailments that seem to be triggered by running aren't unusual. In fact, they're one of the most common complaints among runners. The pain can range from mildly annoying to excruciating, and it can pass quickly or last for hours.

In most cases it's nothing to worry about but if it's something that running makes worse, you should contact your healthcare provider. Here are a few possible origins of running-induced stomach pain.

Read More: How to Avoid Stomach Cramps When Running

Spasms and Cramps

You can get cramps from eating too little, or eating too much. You can also get them for no apparent reason whatsoever.

Cramps occur when a muscle contracts into a knot called a spasm. The tense muscle can squeeze nerves, causing the sensation of pain. One of the most common forms of such a spasm is particularly familiar to runners: It's called "the stitch."

Getting a stitch is like getting the hiccups. It's usually a sharp jabbing pain, often in the upper abdomen that seems to have a mind of its own. Stitches tend to occur during a run, and sometimes they stop people from running. But you also might feel one for a few moments or so after your run.

There's no sure fire cure for a stitch, though you can try stretching your right arm over your head or slowing your pace. You can also try massaging wherever the evil little twinge is biting you.

Don't Eat (Much) Before Running

It's important not to eat too much, too soon before running. People tend to learn quickly that going for, say, a 3-mile run on a full stomach is not a good idea.

Running diverts blood away from the digestive system, making it really hard for your body to deal with digesting a lot of heavy fuel. Next thing you know, your digestive system freezes up and you're doubled over in pain or chundering on the side walk. None of this is any fun.

You shouldn't go out on a completely empty stomach, either. The American Council on Exercise recommends that, if your last meal was more than three hours before your run, you should have a snack.

For early morning runs, try eating a small portion of an easily digested carb -- a banana or a slice of whole grain bread, for example -- about a half-hour before you go. This is also true if you're running later in the day and haven't eaten in 3 hours or longer. Running on a completely empty stomach could cause you to become light-headed as your blood sugar drops. This can sometimes induce nausea or queasiness.

Stomach pain after running could be radiating from a hernia.
Stomach pain after running could be radiating from a hernia. Photo Credit Sohel_Parvez_Haque/iStock/Getty Images


A hernia is a weak spot in the abdominal wall, the sheath of muscle that protects your abdominal cavity. This allows deeper tissues and organs to bulge through. In some cases, a hernia can become "entrapped," meaning the hole in the muscle wall is choking off the blood supply to underlying tissue.

Entrapment is a very critical condition and must be given immediate medical attention. It is also quite possible to feel some twinges in the area of the hernia without there being entrapment. Hernias, which can grow larger, are corrected surgically.

Read More: Is Running Bad for a Hernia?

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