What causes stomach cramps while running?


Quick Answer

Shallow breathing is a frequent cause of stomach cramps that occur while running, says Jeff Galloway, a 1972 Olympian. Consuming too much food or fluid contributes to shallow breathing. Low levels of sodium, potassium and calcium also lead to stomach cramps.

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What causes stomach cramps while running?
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Full Answer

Cramps result from extremely vigorous breathing and decreased oxygen supply, according to Rice University. Slowing down while running and massaging the stomach typically help alleviate pain.

Rice University explaisn that cramps related to the gastrointestinal system often occur due to dehydration and diet. Hyperhydration, which involves drinking 400 to 600 milliliters of cold water 10 to 20 minutes before exercise, can help delay dehydration. The stomach empties cold liquids at a faster rate than liquids at body temperature. The rate of emptying is faster when the stomach has a greater volume, which is why drinking every 10 to 15 minutes is recommended. However, runners must avoid having too much stomach volume, as this leads to an uncomfortable feeling of a "full stomach."

The body easily absorbs drinks with less than 10 percent glucose, Rice University explains. Isotonic and hypotonic liquids are also suggested drinks for hydration. Moreover, residue in the upper digestive tract should be minimized by decreasing intake of fiber and "heavy" foods and consuming high-carb beverages before running.

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