Intermittent Abdominal Muscle Pain


Sorry for posting  this again but I am looking to get some fresh advice on this situation and see if any one else has been through same situation?

In brief, 18 months ago I started to get pain in the lower left ab muscle when during my runs. It is very strange though as it is not consistent:

  • It can come and go during running (sometimes goes when I rub or jab it)
  • Sometimes I can run through it and it dissappears
  • As soon as it goes the pain stops
  • If I stop running the pain stops
  • It happens more often than not (4 out of 5 times)
  • I have tried varying hedyrdation, salt intake, pre-run prep, etc
  • The pain is managemable, not as bad as a normal cramp but it is quite sharp  
  • Does not happen when walking or cycling (trying swimming next week)
I have also been down the medical route and had no success:
  • 2 physios (one NHS one private unsure what it is)
  • Seen an extended scope podiatrist but no progress
  • Had ultrasound to rule out hernia
  • Had private consultation and MRI and it was fine
  • On the MRI there is slight inflamation around the pubis (or something like that) but the specialist did not think that note worthy
  • I even had an edoscopy (not fun) for some other checks and that showed no issues with the bowels
The only conclusion that my physio has now gone to is that I should strengthen my core. And the specialist said keep running if I can manage the pain (which I sometimes can). So at the moment I am now starting to work the core and trying to increase my running to see if I can just run it off.   Anyway, if anyone has any ideas or experiences let me know.   Thanks   PS. My physio did say it could be partly down to getting older and not being as fit as I was. I played hockey to a pretty high standards for years, but I am only 34 so not convinced with that.    



  • Well, if your not happy, go back for another opinion, if you can afford to, try to see a sports physio but otherwise your treatment would be NHS so would have to go via your GP and so they will have to have some sort of diagnosis for it at any rate.


    I say this sadly with a similar issue with my lower back. I want to know what it is, my GP seems intent on it being a muscular issue which will resolve itself....2 years later and I'm now being referred to a pain clinic, and I still don't know what it is! I think the best way to try to find out- if your interested, is to work out which muscle it is that hurts. Go via a few pictures (of muscles) not just one. Get a good understanding of what the muscle is and what it does. Also what are the muscles around it and if there are any possible injuries that could have happened to areas around the painful spot which may have meant the muscles which your feeling have had to take on the strain. Consider things like your back, your legs, just about anywhere else infact!


    Try to do as much research as you can so you can go back to your GP and suggest something to try. I did this when a private physio suggested I had problems with my feet and sent me to an orthopaedic doctor. He did scans and more scans and located problems with my knees! I'd gone there because my ankle hurt and I had bunions appearing! It was a bit of a random one but had I not done that I'd be none the wiser as to where the pain originated from.

     Physioroom can be a helpful website to flick through and also sportsinjury. Thats where I got a basic understanding of things anyway.

  • AndyL78AndyL78 ✭✭✭

    Thanks Jenn. Glad I am not the only person out there with a weird issue. It gets a bit depressing when everyone else I know is running injury free.

    I will check out physioroom too. I think I have been able to isolate it to the muscle that is described as the v-cut (not sure of the technical name).

    I am starting to mix up my training to see if anything else flares it up. Cycling is fine, but skipping causes it to go. I am going to start swimming (first session tomorrow) and in the process of joining a gym as the rowing machine and cross trainers might give me some more indication too.

    I did 11k yesterday and it was a bit hit and miss all of the way around. Slight dull ache in that region today too but not sure of that is because I was massaging it or if that is as a result of the pain. Also did some planking and side planking afterwards too so it could be that.

    Thanks again for the advice. Let me know how you get on.

    And if anyone else has had similar experience I would be interested to find out



  • I have the same problem on my right side. only after running about a mile. I attempt to run through it and sometimes it goes and sometimes it stays as a dull pain.

    My fitness instructor says its something to do with my breathing as i never used to run so much and that it will go completely when my body adjusts to the exercise that i now do.. althought im just waiting for that to happen.

    I dont think it is down to age or fitness as a couple of months ago i was unfit and didnt get the pain and now im fit i get it and im only 24.

    I think i will just deal with this unless it gets worse as im hoping that it will disappear and i doubt the doctor will have anything good to say other than stop running!


  • Are you guys sure your not talking about a stitch? (As in the same thing you used to get as a kid when running for too long)


    If it is, look at your electrolyte levels (dehydrated/over-hydrated and body salts which are lost from sweat, to add more body salts take on an electrolyte drink or make one with 50/50 orange juice to water)

     Also look at what your eating and when. Too much stodge too close to your running time and your stomach has to digest it all, this takes time and energy, you then start to run before its done and the muscles fatigue and can lead to a stitch type feeling. Its just muscle fatigue and if you lay off for a bit and wait for it to recover it should be OK and fine to run on but it does cause you to change tactic.

    And then there is general fatigue. If you've not had enough sleep or been rushed off your feet it can impact on your energy levels and also your core muscles- this is what I find anyway! Running on a weakened core can mean you end up with a stitch.


    I'm sure your aware of what a stitch is but just incase you or someone reading (lurking!) isn't. A stitch can really mess with running and technique, you can lose your posture and then create knock-on problems for yourself as a result so if you do have a stitch, stop and rest until it goes away because even if your not fully aware, your posture will very likely change to attempt to deal with it.


  • Flatfoot - I may have/had the same thing.

    Do you get any trouble after running e.g when you cough, sit up from lying, get out of a car or similar? I've looked up v-cut and position seems about right but did you find it sometimes isn't easy to localise the pain?

    I had it on my left 2 years ago.  Pain while running that sometimes extended to groin and made it difficult to lift my knee up at the end of long runs.  Went to a physio, who referred me to a useless GP, who referred me for ultrasound to check for hernia, back to GP, referred to NHS physio.  All of that took about 4 months during which time I wasn't running on GP's advice.  I still had twinges then though these lessened over time. 

    Went to see a consultant privately as physio had suggested it could be 'Gilmore's Groin'.  The fairly brusque consultant just said it wasn't and that I needed to do core stability exercises and referred me to a physio.

    That's what i did and gradually returned to running with no pain.  Ran a couple of marathons since and been ok.

    A couple of months ago I got it in my right side and have been to a physio but with no real change.  Doesn't get worse but my fear is that as mileage and intensity increase for marathon training it'll become chronic.  Going to see a top physio next week.  Seen suggestions that it could be hip flexor related or could be to do with colon.


  • AndyL78AndyL78 ✭✭✭

    Hi Rob,

    It is interesting that you mentioned "Gilmore's Groin", after the MRI that is what the consultant said mine could be also. He suggested operating but as he said it is like a ghost condition so there is no guarentee that it will fix it so I avoided that route.

    Recently joined a local gym and I am doing a lot of work on the core, so with a bit of luck that will help. They also have pilates there (cheaper than the last class that I was at) so will give that another go too. I have been doing a lot on the cross trainer and rowing at the gym and no issue, just seems to be through repeat impact. Did some treadmill too (hate using them) and was alright but it was only a couple of km to warm down.

    Strange that it has now developed on your other side but it is reassuring that you resolved the previous problem so shows it can be improved. Let me kow how you get on with the physio next week.

    In fact I got my follow up appointment through for the extended scope podiatrist, not for another month, but it will be interesting to find out what he thinks so I will let you know. There could be a mechanics issue there.




  • AndyL78AndyL78 ✭✭✭

    Here is a new development, the GP thinks I have a touch of IBS, so I have some anti-spasmodics now to control this. So I got thinking and thought lets give them a go before I run. And after using them for the last 4 runs I have been fine. Not sure of it is coincidental, a placebo, or actually making a difference but it seems to be working.

    The pain was never in the bowel, it is on the ab muscles, but I will keep trying these and see what happens.


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