Oh yes, we’ve all had them; those horrible, sharp pains in the right upper abdomen that come on a few minutes into your run or swim. Having “cramps” while you are being active is no fun at all and can often stop you in your tracks. The pain is fast to come on, benign in nature and fleeting in duration for most of us. Runners and swimmers are the most commonly affected, but the actual cause is still hotly debated. Some think it is due to stretching of ligaments surrounding your internal organs, others that the diaphragm gets insufficient oxygen and then cramps up and still other theories abound.
Fortunately in most cases, the pain is short-lived and a little rest, stretching and deep breathing can get you back to exercising pain free. A few important tips that help include avoiding high intensity exercise right after any big changes in intra-abdominal pressure. That could be a big meal or evacuation of a big bowel movement. Either one suddenly changes the environment inside your abdomen and you should give your body at least 10-15 minutes to acclimate to the changes before starting your program. Practicing some deep, diaphragmatic breathing before your run or swim can also prove beneficial. Breathing deeply stretches the abdominal wall, expands the diaphragm and improves blood flow and oxygen delivery to these structures. Next don’t leave the gates like you are sprinting a 200m (unless you are….and you have warmed up). Make time for a solid warm-up including dynamic movements that use trunk rotation and side bending. You can find some dynamic warm-ups in our store. Buy one, print it out and add it to your pre-run program. Also, be sure you have maximized your nutritional and oxygen status. That is foundational and can’t be overlooked. Finally, stay positive. Studies show that the more regularly you run or swim, the less likely you are to develop side-cramps.
To learn more about running cramps or to schedule a consultation, contact us.