You're after a strong, tight tum, but you didn't sign up for the unpleasant, embarrassing gaseous side effects. Pressure on your digestive tract experienced as you crunch and twist can lead to the natural release of gas. In some cases, it's not even the ab exercises that are to blame. You have an excess of gas due to other factors — and movement only brings it to your attention.
Compression on the Core
Gas is a result of swallowed air, as well as the action of bacteria in your large intestine as it breaks down certain foods. When you squeeze, twist or compress your belly and intestines, which are full of the trapped air, the gas exits — sometimes to your dismay.
Certain yoga poses are infamous for this effect. In fact, wind-relieving pose — in which you lay on your back and pull your knees tightly into your chest — is named after its digestive effects. But, really any crunching or twisting action can cause the same result.
If you're working so hard during your ab workout that you're gasping for air, you might inadvertently be causing gas. Swallowing air can cause you to fill up with extra gas, and then expel it after you work out.
Focus on inhaling during the set-up phase of an exercise, and exhaling during exertion. During a crunch, for example, inhale as you engage your abs and place your hands behind your head. Exhale as you lift your head, neck and shoulders up off the floor. Inhale as you lower back to start.
Abs After Cardio
Often, people put their abs workout at the end of a cardio session. Your gas may be a result of this exercise you did prior to the abs work, not the abs work itself. People particularly prone to such effects are distance runners and, to a lesser extent, distance cyclists and triathletes.
When you do cardio exercise for an hour or longer, your body shunts blood to your legs and arms and away from your stomach. Cycling posture and jostling during running can further contribute to gut problems, including gas. Drinking from water bottles also encourages you to swallow air every time you hydrate, also contributing to gas buildup. When you crank out crunches after your run, the gas expels.
Don't Always Blame Exercise
Exercise may not be the culprit when it comes to your flatulence. What you ate several hours before exercise or other lifestyle habits might be causing your gas and it only seems to correlate with ab moves.
These foods tend to cause gas, especially in sensitive people:
- cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower
- onions and garlic
- beans and legumes
- pears, apples and peaches, as well as the juices made from these fruits
- dairy products
- high-fiber grains, such as bran
- gum and candy with sugar alcohols such as sorbitol and mannitol
Lifestyle habits likely to lead to gas include:
- drinking from a straw
- consumption of carbonated drinks
- gum chewing
- eating and drinking at very fast speeds
Preventing Gas After Abdominal Exercise
Skip the fibrous snacks, such as veggies and bran cereal, prior to your workout. You might even need to pass on the black bean burrito at lunch if you plan to hit the gym later in the afternoon.
Don't chew gum as you work out. Take your time for water breaks, rather than guzzling water at breakneck speed. Also consider giving yourself time between cardio and ab work -- especially if you did a very long run or ride. You need time for your body's systems to reset and deliver blood and energy back to the digestive tract.