How to Stop Gagging When Jogging

Three young friends running on the steps of a building
An intense workout can trigger your gag reflex. (Image: lorenzoantonucci/iStock/Getty Images)

Gagging while jogging or exercising is a common occurrence that many athletes deal with. If you have ever pushed yourself intensely during a run or any other type of workout, your gag reflex may have kicked in. You may have also felt a burning sensation in your stomach and nausea during strenuous workouts. Some people actually end up vomiting during or immediately following intense workouts. With a few adjustments, you may be able to reduce this gagging sensation or even eliminate it altogether.

Hydration

Failing to properly hydrate in preparation for a run can cause you to gag during your workout because your throat and mouth feel dry and irritated, which -- combined with gastrointestinal (GI) distress -- can lead to gagging or even vomiting. Professional runner Molly Pritz advises that drinking sports drinks with salt and potassium can help you avoid dehydration, which is key to avoiding GI discomfort during intense workouts, when your body directs blood flow away from delicate digestive tissues. The key, notes Pritz, is to make sure you're properly hydrated before a workout, since you may not be able to take in enough fluids during your jog to make up for the amount your body depletes.

Blood Flow

Increased oxygen demand from your muscles may contribute to the gagging and nausea that you experience during a strenuous workout. Vigorous breathing and decreased oxygen supply to the abdominal wall muscles triggered through either exercise or heat stress can cause cramping, leading to the rejection of stomach contents. In addition, as more blood and oxygen is pumped to the muscle tissues in your legs, less reaches the various areas of your digestive tract, so any fuel or water that you take in is less likely to be processed and more likely to be sent back up.

Lactic Acid

Jogging at levels more intense than your body is prepared for can lead to a buildup of lactic acid. Not only does lactic acid result in that uncomfortable "stitch" in your side and cramping muscles, but too much lactic acid is recognized by your body as a toxin that it must eliminate through vomiting. Condition your body to produce less lactic acid and to better process the lactic acid it does produce by easing into your workout routine. If you are gagging while you're jogging, take a step back from your program and go back to shorter, slower jogs to condition your body against this lactic acid response. Consider building in walk breaks to give your body a chance to recover, especially if you begin to feel lightheaded or nauseous. As your body becomes better able to cope with the activity you can gradually increase distance or speed.

Fueling and Prevention

Hydrating before and during every workout, as well as eating easily digestible foods about three hours prior to working out, may help to prevent you from gagging during your jogs. Strike a sensible balance by avoiding foods that are high in fat, which are difficult for the body to break down. You can also try antacid medications or natural remedies like apple cider vinegar if acid reflux seems to be contributing to your problem. If nothing works, though, you should see your doctor to rule out food allergies or any potentially serious conditions causing your symptoms.

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