Intense Stomach Cramps when Running

I am hoping someone can help me!
I have been a faithful recreational runner for years now but recently I have been a little less consistent. Now, normally if I have to take a brief hiatus I have no trouble getting right back out there whenever I decide to start running again. Lately though I have been having the strangest problems. When I run these days I can only run about half of my usual distance before I get these seriously intense lower stomach cramps. They resemble menstrual cramps in a way and are debilitating to a point that I could barely breath and felt nauseous on one occasion. I try to push through it but I usually end up walking/ stumbling back only to have the cramps go away in about 15/20 minutes almost as if they never happened! I thought that maybe I was just rusty and if I kept it up for a few more days, the same way I work through adding a few new miles to my run, I could maybe overcome this thing. No such luck though! The same thing still happens around the same point of the run! I have not changed anything about my diet or my usual routine. I'm almost at my wits end! I don't want to give up running!
Has anyone else had this problem? Does anyone know what might be wrong or maybe you know of something I could maybe do that would help me overcome this? I am desperate for answers and would appreciate any input!


  • Sounds like wind /Irritable bowel symptoms. There are things on the market for both - peppermint tea is good for crampy stomachs -lots and lots of it - soothes the muscles of the intestines but there are lots of other things about - some you are best discussing with your doctor before you try them - i.e. anti spasmodics

    You may be gulping air perhaps ? So difficult to diagnose from a post.

    It could be that it is Irritable bowel - this can strike for a variety of reasons and can be intensely and debilitatingly painful to the point where you are shocked by the pain - which does sound like your description. If it is this then you will need to treat the symptoms with various things as described above - again I cannot recommend tons of peppermint tea enough - really helps but it is an aquired taste.

    Then - it will be a matter of really taking it easy and building your running back up really slowly. If the exercise is triggering the IBS then you just need to find your threshold and gradually work on raising it. Do you take anything with you when running. Perhaps sipping water while running might help.

    Do you wear running clothes with a tight waistband? This can set of IBS as well.

    Perhaps you could set off on a run, get to just before the point that the pain usually starts, walk for 5 mins, try running again for a bit then walk a bit etc and build up that way.

  • SunluvvaSunluvva ✭✭✭
    Are the cramps all across the stomach or on one side??
  • Hi Mary

    i know exactly what you mean, I too suffer from these. And I have never found anyone else who does. I have been known to double up on side of road unable to move until the spasms pass, it even happened to me in a 10K once, they had to get the ambulance, I felt such a fool as by the time it had picked me up and driven me back to start line, they had passed!! And as you say it is as if they were never there.

    I do not believe they are anything to do with ITB or other stomach complaint, as I do not have any problems in this area and there are no other after effects. It feels like really intense period pains.. LIke you I feel them building up and think I can just push through but I haven't managed to yet,. now when I feel them coming I just walk,  I can feel the whole pelvic area spasming and cramping. HAve you guaged when they come, I have noticed they are worse midcyle, so wonder if they are something to do with ovulation? What I do now if I am going out for a run around this time, particularly a long run or if running with others so don't want to spoil their run I take a couple of ibuprofen half an hour before I go and that does the trick.

     I have recently been diagnosed with a fybroid, which doesn't cause me much other trouble but GP has suggested that maybe cause as it will become engorged with blood while running as blood is pumping hard round body. But she couldn't be sure.

     Sorry couldn't help much but just to let you know you are not alone.

  • This is an old post. Wanted to say thankyou for sharing, I've just started getting these after taking a few years off running but remaining fit with other activities.

    I've been struggling to find anything related to it but I get exactly what you two discribe - really intense what feels like period cramps. They do kick in around the same point of the run, and are especially bad if I push my self. Getting home is really hard sometimes but they do go away after 20 min as it nothing was wrong. At the moment I'm getting it in at least 50% of my runs was hoping it would get better once I got more stamina but they don't seem to be going. 

    Glad to hear that it's is a 'thing'. I'm recording how bad it gets and going to compare it with the stage in my cycle. Also thinking of getting a check up just to make sure everything is OK down there. 
  • Hi - response to an old post - this describes my pains so well, just like menstrual cramps, about 15min in, will go after about 20min of writhing in near-agony. Have you had any further update on what might be causing it, and any solutions? Thanks
  • Hi, again responding to an old post, just to share that I have also had this experience. A few years ago I had it when I went out for a run with a friend and was clearly going at too quick a pace. I got intense period like cramps about 5 minutes in and had to stop and lean against a wall. I experienced it again recently- I'd not run in a while, but wasn't going at a particularly fast speed and had warmed up etc. 2 miles in and again I get the intense cramps- I had to stop at a bus stop and sat down bent over double until they subsided. Can't say they had any correlation to my cycle, and I don't believe they were related to IBS as I don't experience this problem.
  • I think the best solution here is speaking to a doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions and provide a food diary to track what you are eating and drinking before your runs to see if any particular foods or drinks are causing the cramps. If the issue persists, it could be beneficial to speak to a sports nutritionist to help you develop a balanced eating plan tailored to your individual needs.
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