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Stomach Aches 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 Aches After Running
Stomach aches after running could be caused by bad meal timing. Photo Credit: Marc Bruxelle/iStock/Getty Images

You go for a run and everything's fine, but soon after you stop, your stomach seems upset. Nothing unusual about that.

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Runners are subject to quite a number of stomach complaints, to the extent that they've invented their own syndrome: "Runner's Stomach, " which can be anything from nausea to cramping.

There are a number of different possible causes. Some of them might be remedied with minor changes in dietary habits while others may signify a more serious underlying condition.

Read More: Nausea, Vomiting and Headache with Exercise

Meal Timing

When you're running, as you might expect, your blood supply rushes to your extremities, decreasing blood flow to your internal organs by as much as 80 percent. The stomach's okay with this as long as it doesn't have any heavy work to do, but a big meal much sooner than three hours before you run could cause your stomach to go into contractions, causing a crampy, aching feeling after or during your run.

When you stop running, rather than immediately flow back into the core, the blood actually makes one last big surge toward the limbs. If your stomach is carrying just a bit too much of a load, that may be enough to trigger a stomach ache.

Running when you're too hungry has its own problems, possibly leaving you dizzy, nauseous and quite possibly with a stomach ache. The American Council on Exercise recommends having a light, easily-digested carbohydrate snack about a half hour before running.

Fluid Intake

Good as it might feel in the moment, chugging large quantities of a cold beverage immediately after you run is not a fantastic idea. Drink water that is room temperature -- slowly -- to prevent feeling water logged.


Do you take non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) such ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Alleve) or even plain old aspirin to ward off aches and pains before you run? That's not be a good idea because taking NSAIDS before exercise can damage the intestinal lining. You may end up with a stomach ache after your run, and over time the meds can cause ulcers and bleeding. Ibuprofen, in particular, may actually impair healing time for the aches and pains you took it to run through, too.

ibuprofen before exercise may increase the risk of musculoskeletal injuries and delay healing by impairing the synthesis of collagen

Wait a half hour before drinking large amounts of fluid all at once.
Wait a half hour before drinking large amounts of fluid all at once. Photo Credit: Gabriela Medina/Blend Images/Getty Images


A hernia is an opening or tear in the abdominal wall, usually either at the navel or in the groin area. A hernia allows the stomach or intestines to push through, making it possible for them to become strangulated by surrounding muscle tissue, cutting off circulation to the affected area and raising the possibility of necrosis.

A strangulated hernia probably won't go unnoticed as the pain is excruciating and you would be screaming your head off to be taken to a hospital. However, running with a hernia could irritate sympathetic nerve endings that could lead to spasms and other sensations of pain. Hernias are corrected surgically.

Read More: Abdominal Pain When Running

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