How to Get Rid of Running Cramps | IMPACT Physical Therapy

How to Get Rid of Running Cramps

Woman Experiencing Running Cramps

Running cramps, or “exercise-related transient abdominal pain,” are typically harmless but can definitely make it hard to enjoy a run and keep up the pace—whether you’re preparing for a marathon or setting out on your very first run. Younger and less experienced athletes tend to experience them more often, and they are most likely caused by fatigue in the diaphragm muscle. The good news? Running cramps go away on their own when you rest or slow your pace, and become much less common as you build up your stamina.

So, is there anything you can do about running cramps other than slowing your pace and waiting for them to abate? Increasing your overall fitness is the best solution, but our tips for reducing side pain when running can help you keep up the pace!

Why Does My Side Hurt When I Run?

Whether you’re new to exercise or running at a faster pace than normal, rapid breathing can put more strain on your diaphragm muscle. Located directly below the lungs, it is the main  respiratory muscle and can be fatigued by the extra strain. One theory about why your side hurts when you run is that the diaphragm becomes tired, creating the sensation that you know as running cramps. Running cramps can strike whether you’re on the treadmill or running along Lake Michigan.

How To Get Rid of a Side Stitch

  • Stop running or reduce your pace. Breathe deeply and focus on moving their air through your lungs.
  • With your index and middle fingers, press slightly up and into the running cramp pain. Maintain your breathing pattern and hold your fingers there for about 10 seconds.
  • Gently press around the painful area while continuing to focus on deep breathing. After a few minutes, you should notice the pain subsiding.
  • Stretching can also help to relieve running cramps. For pain on your right side, raise your right hand over your head and gently stretch your torso to the left. This movement addresses any abdominal tension that might be contributing to side pain when running.
  • Start moving again when the pain has eased off, and slowly build back up to your original pace.

How to Prevent Side Pain When Running

Of course, preventing running cramps in the first place is better than trying to resolve them mid-run! Take these steps to reduce the chances you’ll suffer from side pain when running:

  • Try to avoid eating much during the one to two hours before your run.
  • Pre-workout, eat more small meals rather than fewer large meals.
  • Stay away from high-fat foods, high-fiber foods, and sugary drinks before your run.
  • Increase your water intake during the day.
  • Warm up and stretch thoroughly before running.
  • Don’t overwhelm your body with a fast pace right away. Instead, slowly increase your pace.
  • Perform shorter workouts.
  • Work on building strength in your core muscles.
  • Relax the diaphragm while running with deep breathing.

Let Us Help with Persistent Running Cramps

If you’re dealing with persistent running cramps during your runs, a physical therapist may be able to help. A personalized program of stretches and strength-building exercises can target the problem and put you back on track (and back on the track). With locations in Champaign-Urbana and the greater Chicago area, it’s easy to find an IMPACT Physical Therapy facility near you. Schedule an appointment to learn how PT can help you stay healthy and prevent running injuries for the long haul.