Let’s talk about something that might have caught you off guard—bloating after a run.
Yeah, I know, it’s not exactly the glamorous side of running that we like to discuss, but trust me, it’s a common issue that plagues many of us.
Now, here’s the good news—bloating after a run usually has a straightforward explanation. It’s like solving a riddle; once you crack the code, you’ll be armed with the knowledge to prevent it from dampening your post-run joy in the future. Trust me, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as conquering a pesky problem head-on.
So, in today’s article, I’m your guide on this quest for answers. We’ll delve into the mysteries of post-run bloating, uncovering some of the main reasons why it happens and, more importantly, how to kick it to the curb.
Sounds intriguing? Fantastic! It’s time to dig deep, uncover the truth, and bid farewell to post-run bloating once and for all.
What Is Bloating?
Whether you’re a devoted runner or simply someone strolling through life, bloating is an equal opportunity annoyance that affects us all.
Now, picture this: you’re going about your day, minding your own business, when suddenly, your abdomen decides to throw a bloating party. It’s like an unexpected guest crashing your well-planned gathering, leaving you feeling uncomfortable and wondering what on earth caused this commotion.
Here’s the scoop: bloating primarily occurs in the abdomen, and it usually stems from excess gas production or irregularities in the movement of the muscles within your digestive system.
When bloating strikes, you might experience some telltale signs. It’s like your body sending out smoke signals, desperately trying to communicate the discomfort. You may feel tightness, fullness, or even swelling in your abdomen. It’s as if you’ve devoured a massive feast and there’s no more room in your stomach for even a single grape. And let’s not forget the impact on your wardrobe—your once-comfy clothes suddenly feel like they’ve shrunk two sizes, leaving you in a fashion conundrum.
Is It Common To Feel Bloated After A Run?
In fact, bloating typically occurs just after a hard or long run. It often afflicts beginner runners or those returning to the sport after a long break as well as those trying to increase their training load.
Why Am I Bloated After Running
So, does running make you bloated? Well, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” Bloating commonly rears its inflated head after a challenging run, targeting newbie runners or those who are making a comeback after a hiatus. Even seasoned runners trying to up their training game can fall victim to this bloating curse.
Now, let’s dig deeper into the heart of the matter. Bloating after running can have various causes, but there are a few common culprits that might be responsible for your discomfort.
When it comes to bloating after running, the primary culprit isn’t food, but rather, air. Yes, you heard that right. You see, when you hit the pavement or the treadmill and start logging those miles, your breathing rate naturally kicks into high gear. Your body knows that those hardworking muscles need an extra boost of oxygen to keep them going strong..
Now, here’s the catch. Fast and intense breathing during your run can lead you down the path of mouth breathing, which means you’re more likely to swallow a significant amount of air.
And where does that air end up? It takes a wild ride through your esophagus, settling in your stomach, intestines, and even making its way to your colon.
Talk about an unwanted hitchhiker on your running journey! This influx of air can leave you feeling gassy and bloated, like a balloon on the verge of bursting.
Just think about it—the air you breathe during your runs isn’t just a passing breeze. It’s more than that. It has volume and mass, occupying precious space within your body. It’s like inviting a boisterous guest to a cozy party, taking up room that could be reserved for more essential matters, like fueling your muscles and aiding in recovery.
So, the next time you hit the pavement, be mindful of your breath, aiming for a smooth, controlled rhythm that minimizes excessive air intake. Think of it as harmonizing your breath with your strides, creating a symphony of efficient movement.
Drinking Too Much Water
Another factor that can contribute to post-run bloating is the amount of water you drink. Now, don’t get me wrong—staying hydrated is crucial for optimal performance and overall well-being. However, as with many good things in life, moderation is key. You see, excessive water intake, both during and after your run, can lead to a condition called hyponatremia.
Hyponatremia occurs when your body dilutes the sodium levels in your system due to excessive fluid intake. This can cause water retention, leaving you feeling uncomfortable and uneasy. It’s like a flood of water overwhelming the delicate balance within your body, disrupting the harmony you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
Eating Too Close To A Run
What you eat before a run also impacts how you feel throughout the workout and thereafter.
Running immediately after having a big meal can cause stomach problems—this should come as no surprise.
When you log the miles on a full stomach, blood flow switches from your digestive system to focus more on your muscles. This confuses your body and makes you feel uncomfortable and bloated.
Additional Resource – Why Do I sweat too much while running?
If you consume foods rich in protein, fat, or fiber close to your run, these can cause bloating.
Some of the common offenders include:
- Cruciferous veggies such as cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage.
- Dairy products
- Pears and peaches
A common cause of bloating after a workout can be artificial sweeteners.
These can be found in most sports drinks and other energy-on-the-go options. Since it’s hard for your body to digest these sweeteners, they often linger in your stomach for a while, making you feel bloated.
Although improper breathing and diet choices are the most common causes of abdominal bloating in runners, other factors contribute to the condition.
One of the most common ones is prescription medications, especially if they contain sorbitol or lactulose, according to research.
Some drugs may also force your body to retain more water to help with excessive sweating or urinating.
Is It Normal To Experience Bloating After Running?
The short answer: yes, it’s not abnormal to feel bloated after a run
The reason you’re experiencing bloating after a run boils down to the fact that you have been either breathing hard or gulping too much water—both of which may cause you to swallow air.
And as I explained earlier, all of that trapped air has to go somewhere, right?
That’s why, all in all, post-run bloating is normal. It’s rarely something to worry about.
How Long does Bloating Last After Running?
Again, I don’t have the exact answer as it depends on the individual. The worst bloating cases I experienced lasted for the whole day, whereas I might feel bloated for an hour or two after a run.
However, if you take some of the measures shared below, you’ll definitely reduce the length and intensity of the bloating – Or prevent it altogether.
How to Prevent Bloating After Running
While post-run bloating is annoying, you have to remember that it’s also temporary.
Here are some strategies to help you relax your stomach and soothe your bloating symptoms.
Focus on Your Breathing
Since trapped air within your stomach lining is the leading cause of bloating after running, paying attention to your breathing could help.
Though heavy breathing may contribute to bloating, trying to hold your breath or, God forbid, stop breathing altogether is not the solution.
Instead of panting for air while running, which only adds up to the stress, focus on taking deeper, and more fully, breaths.
Also known as diaphragmatic breathing, this type of breathing engages your diaphragm for fuller inhales and exhales.
Check out this tutorial on how to practice deep breathing while running.
Want to increase your chances of getting bloated? Then have foods rich in fiber, protein, and fat the hours before a run.
Since these foods take longer to get digested, they may amp up stress on your digestive tract causing trouble down the road.
As a rule, avoid fatty, spicy, heavy, high-fiber, high-protein, and high-sugar foods—as well as caffeinated or alcoholic drinks—in the three hours before your workout.
Instead, if you have to eat before a run, stick to easily digestible unprocessed foods such as eggs, bananas, oatmeal, and peanut butter.
Not only does the type of food you eat matter, but also when you eat.
Even if you don’t run, you’re likely aware of the impact of food on how you feel bloated later on.
So don’t just lace up those running shoes after a meal. Give your digestive tract a few hours to do its thing—or consider running in a fasted state.
At the very least, give your stomach at least two hours before running. If you have a sensitive stomach, aim for longer than three hours.
Have to eat close to run (because you’re already starving)? Then go for an easily digestible snack instead of a full meal.
Stay Well Hydrated
Want to ensure optimal performance while running? Stay well hydrated.
Dehydration compromises your digestive system, which makes you more prone to GI tract issues—bloating is not an exception.
Just remember not to drink too much. Check my full guide to hydration here.
Additional reference – Stop peeing when running
Check Your Medication
Common offenders include OTC drugs such as NSAIDs as well as antidepressants and antibiotics.
If you’re using prescription medication, consult your doctor to check if the bloating is a side effect, when to take it—or triggered by something else.
Bloating After Running – What to Do?
If you start to experience bloating after a run, try moving your body a bit. This should help you start to release some of the excess gas out of your stomach.
I’d also recommend that you do some form of post-run stretching or yoga to not only get your body twisting and moving but also stretch out your running muscles.
You can try my favorite pose, the cat-cow. These work well for relaxing and compressing your torso, therefore, getting that air out of your digestive tract.
Additional resource – Ice bath for runners
Consult your Doctor
Bloating after a run should only persist for a couple of hours. That’s why if you’re coming down with chronic or serious bloating, then you might consult your doctor to rule out any underlying issue.
This is especially the case if your bloating is accompanied by any of these symptoms:
- Extreme fatigue
- Stomach or pelvic pain
- Unwanted, sudden, weight loss
- Change in bathroom habits, such as getting constipated or peeing too often.
- Hematemesis and melena
Bloating After Running – Conclusion
Experiencing bloating after a workout really sucks. Today’s article, though, should put you on the fast track toward a bloat-free life. The rest is really up to you.
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions below.
In the meantime thank you for dropping by.