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Avatar universal

Low abdominal pain when running

I just wanted to see if anyone has experienced some of my problems. I am a 27 year old female; I am in a pretty good shape. I exercise regularly and for the last 3 months I have been running 3 to 5 times a week for 2 miles. My problem is that sometimes I would get very severe LOW abdominal pain when running.  Sometimes is on the right side, sometimes is on the left side. It does not happen all the time, though. I worm up and increase my speed gradually. I am not sure if I should I see a doctor about that. If anyone has had anything similar, please share. Thank you!
269 Responses
228181 tn?1189946069
Are they cramps or stitches?  These happen more often if you eat within the few hours before a run and/or if you don't breath properly.  Side stitches are a good indication your running too fast.  If your going to eat prior to exercising keep it light and eat slowly making sure you can digest smoothly.  If you experience abdominal pain or cramps when running slow down to walking speed and stretch out the muscle.  Exercise Related Transient Abdominal Pain (ERTAP) is something everyone encounters and is really nothing to worry about but if your still concerned there's no harm in consulting a physician.
Avatar universal
i'm a 20 year old female and latley i've been experiencing the exact same thing, I was searching it on google to see if it was normal and i know what you mean by LOW. I've been running for quite a while and it has recently been happening. The pain is unbearable and sometimes brings me to the point of screaming into a pillow. My mom has wanted to take my to the hospital because shes seen how much pain I am in but it goes away after awhile. I'm just wondering as well if anyone else has had this and knows what it might be. its definatly not stitches it could be cramps but i've never experienced anything like it. I cannot explain how much it hurts and how theres not way to stretch or position your body to lighten the pain. I sound so dramatic with it but i just came back from a run where it happened and the pain is fresh in my mind any help or info would be greatly appreciated because it truly is unmanagable
Avatar universal
I was treated by a physical therapist many years ago who gave this condition a name. Or course, I can no longer remember it.  It usually occurs when the heart rate is elevated quickly, and has to do with the bloodflow through the arteries to the legs. The only thing to stop it is to walk and slow the heart rate down.  Constant stretching of the groin is supposed to prevent some of it.  I used to get it after running hard sprints in high school and it still bothers me to this day.  I have been able to run 5 miles at a time, but I have to start very slowly.  I also noticed that if I stopped for 10 minutes and started up again the pain did not come back. An empty bladder is crucial to the problem as well.
Avatar universal
I get severe abdominal pain during a certain point of my menstrual cycle when I am running but not when I actually have my period. It also happens when i am running outside, and seems to occur after I reach a certain level of exertion that i don;t seem to get to when i go to the gym. I'm 27 and have had this problem since i got my first periond, and it's only an issue for about two weeks of the month. It can come on during the run, or when i am walking to cool down. I have never had a baby, but it feels like contractions might...its a dull, indescribable pain that leaves me shaking and wanting to go the bathroom etc etc. When it eventually dissipates, it goes in waves, until about 30 minutes after my run it is as if nothing happened (feeling normal feels like bliss at this point)....never met anyone with this problem...a doctor put me on the pill for it once but that didn;t really help.....
Avatar universal
I am agreeing with everything that VeryPinky is saying. My cramps go away after about 10 minutes and walking, but I still have a vague feeling of the cramping for several hours afterwords.
I have seen a sports doctor, but he has not been able to diagnose anything.
The cramps only appear about two weeks before my period, and then disappear when my period begins. I do quite a bit of physical exercise, but am most consistent with road cycling and running. I never have the cramps when I am cycling (even when I do 1.5hrs of steep hills), but only feel them when I run.
I have had this problem since I first got my period (I am now 22), and my sisters have a similar problem but don't do enough physical exercise to be able to notice a pattern for themselves. I have done quite a few tests of the lower abdomen (enema's, x-rays, ultrasounds,...) and nothing comes back conclusive. One of my other sisters has also been tested a little. but again nothing.
If anyone has any thoughts on how the menstrual cycle ties in to this whole issue, I'd be willing to hear it. If it can be regulated to some extent by diet, I'd like to hear that also.
As for physique, (not sure if that would make a difference), I am 5'10, well built, strong, and basically have not a lot of extra fat (sometimes a little though)...
Avatar universal
I don't know if your problem has been fixed yet. I was just going to throw in my 2 cents. I had similar problems when I would run back in highschool. I had chronic pain that would present itself when I would run for about a mile fast or 3 miles at a slower pace. The pain was just left and below my lower abdominals (right around where my hips/legs make a crease).

After about a year of trying to figure out what it was, I finally found out that it was a tight psoas muscle. I was still hitting growth spurts at the time and one PT I talked to theorized that the muscle wasn't growing as fast at the rest of me. At 27, I doubt growth spurts are the cause but it could still be a tight or cramping psoas muscle.

I would suggest trying to stretch it out a bit more before/after you run if this sounds similar to what you have.

Good luck.
Avatar universal
I agree with VeryPink. She described it perfectly. I'm 26 years old and I get this pain sometimes when I push myself a little harder than usual. It's not the typical muscle cramp. Sometimes it's so bad I have to stop running and kneel/sit down in order for the pain to subside. It definitely feels like contractions, and it is sometimes accompanied by nausea, and the feeling of fainting if I don't rest. The pain usually goes away 10-15 minutes later. Taking deep breaths seems to make it worse. I have these pains during, after, and before my cycle. So I have no idea what the cause is. I just know I want it to cease!
Avatar universal
I'm 28 and I have these exact same cramps.  I thought I was the only one, and people look at me like i'm crazy or stupid when I try to explain it, but it completely floors me.  I roll around on the ground in agony for about 10 minutes then I can get up and be perfectly fine.  But for the 10 minutes its like giving brith.  I've also had an ultra sound.  I've made sure that im hydrated. Ive tried morning workouts, evening workouts, eating, not eating, everything.  I get them from cycling, hiking, running...anything where i exert myself to much to fast.  I think a long slow warm up is key.  which isn't always convienent.
at least now i can show this to my husband so he won't think i'm crazy!
Avatar universal
I am a 21 year old female and get the same cramps when running! It seems to come on when I reach a certain level, around a mile or two.  It is the worst pain ever and if I dont run though it, it just gets worse.  For me if feels like I am having bad contractions and the pain spreads from my lower abdomin to my lower back.  It is such a terrible pain and I have seen two doctors about it that have no idea what it is and have just tried to put my on the pill..I need help!!
Avatar universal
The most common reason for lower abdomina pain while running:
Exertion of your abdominal muscles
Connected with Periods
Infection inside
Stones in the kidneys
Idiopathic: No reason and something to do with your ergonomics, like surface you run, shoes you wear, position of your back etc.
Physiotherapist/Fitness expert can help you in determining most of the cases and condition other than this you have to visit a Doctor.
Take care!
Avatar universal
I'm 44 and have had the exact same thing for about 7 years now. My cramps start w/in the first 20 minutes of jogging or biking, particularly if I exert myself too much too fast. As soon as I feel them coming on, I stop and walk for about 10 minutes, then I seem to be okay. If I try to jog thru it, the pain is so bad I think I'm going to pass out and my insides are going to fall out. It feels like I'm giving birth. If severe, all I can do is roll around on the ground until it passes - which usually takes 20 minutes and subsides in waves. It doesn't seem to matter what I eat or when I workout. But, I am starting to think a slow warm up is key. Alternating jogging and walking for the first 20 minutes seems to help.
Avatar universal
Please check your mineral balance as, if you are low in Potassium/Magnesium you get cramps. Also have a balanced diet and have sometimes fresh fruit juice after the work out and it helps as it has the required minerals and vitamins. Try to control and do the exercise which suits you and all types of exercises may not be suitable to everyone. Always think and try to find out better avenues of exercise which do not exert you but allows you to lose calories . Take care!
Avatar universal
I am a 24 yr old female who also has the same issues. I don't remember ever having this in High school when I ran cross country, i spent a few yrs  without running and just recently started back up again. I thought perhaps it was from starting off with 2 miles right away . But ive been running for a few weeks now and the pain just isn't subsiding, even though i feel my resistance is better and i'm more in shape. It occurs for about 10 minutes and yes it is like giving birth! it is absolutely awful! I am a good at pain tolerance , but this is just absurd. It completely doubles me over.  I am particularly worried as I plan on joining the military in a year or so and I am trying to get into tip top shape as I want to be at the top of my class. But I am afraid that if this happens during my training i will be eliminated.

It only seems to happen when i slow down to a walk at the end of my workout, and never when i'm running. I run outside, I have been to the doctor and ruled out any pelvic problem. My diet is healthy, high in iron, protein, but very low in carbs. I try to eat natural glucose sugars found in fruits and vegetables. I am afraid of eating carbs because i feel it just causes more bloating.

I find that the only thing that helps is laying down on the ground on a cool surface to alleviate the pain and squeezing my lower abs to perhaps hope that i can squeeze out some gas from it. Its' awful!
Avatar universal
Start with a healthy breakfast, with a bowl of fruits.  Fruit sugar & fibre rich carbs would not bloat you. You can always avoid simple carbohydrates and sugars, continue the balanced diet with primarily protein as your major component but the desired carbs and add fresh vegetables and fruits for the minerals and vitamins, drink required quantity of water. Check your blood pressure and other basic parameters like haemoglobin etc and if everything is normal do not worry as they would not eliminate your from the military after this. The only thing is you decrease the intensity and see if you get the pain and you can always go ahead to your peak level slowly. Take care!
Avatar universal
It was so comforting to read all of these posts. I feel the exact same way as most of you who posted. I am a 23 year old female. I exercise fairly regularly (run for 45 min 4-5 times a week at a speed of 5.0 on an elliptical). Typically about a week to five days before my period, I get severe cramps approximately 10/15 minutes into my workouts which force me to stop running.  In response to the pain I have no choice but to lie on the ground in the fetal position for about ten minutes before any of the pain subsides. During these ten minutes, I have that stitching pain that, like you all have said, feels like you're giving birth (although I've never had a baby). As I lie on the ground basically unable to move, I don't know whether or not my body wants me to throw up, go to the bathroom, or just lie there for the duration. The ten minutes feel like an eternity; like the pain is never ending. It's terrible.
I noticed that the majority who posted were in their twenties. I wonder if it's typical among this age group. I also have a family history of endometriosis. Does anyone know if this might be a direct correlation with that? I get terrible cramps (cramps similar to those I get when I work out just before my period) two days into my periods as well. During these beginning days of my period, I often feel nauseous, weak and need to have a heating pad on me almost constantly to feel any sort of relief.
Lastly - I read one of you posted some physical characteristics - I too am 5'10, eat mostly healthy, and am relatively thin. I wonder if physique is a factor as well.
Avatar universal
-   Not related to PMS...     I get cramps/ stitches or something that I do not know what it  is in my lower abdoman.  To start i am 20 yrs old and have been a runner for years, and gotten this for years. It will start within the first 30seconds  or right from the get go of my run to the point where i may last a minuet and be in so much pain i have to stop.  I dont know why it happens but it does. Sometimes I will have just eaten, other times an hr light befor, or other i wont eat for hours to see if it is food.   Under all circumstances it happenes.  Sometimes i get it after 8 mins and by 10 mins i have to stop because it hurts so much.  I am on depo. aka i dont get my period and i still get this regulary.  does anyone know why??

please help
Avatar universal
You have to check your abdominal muscles and try to strengthen them.
Do some weights and floor exercises and under the supervision of a trainer start running.
If you have the symptoms still: then we advice you to go for medial check up for your vitals and a Gynaecology examination for your lower abdomen.

Do not stress yourself, do alternate exercises till you solve this, have proper sleep, balanced diet. Consume fresh fruits and vegetable salads in your diet.

Take care!
Avatar universal
Dear fellow sufferers,
I can't tell you how relieved I was to hear that I am not alone. I too suffer from the same abdominal cramps. I have noticed that we all share almost identical symptoms and situations that seem to induce the pain.

-Cramps come on during strenuous exercise.
-Usually at the beginning or soon after a streunous push during running.

In my case I found that I always get it when I start running, only in the mornings, and only if I start going immediately uphill and I run it relatively fast. If I run later in the day, start on a flat, take the uphills more gently I don't get it. It also usually occurs mid way though my mentrual cycle. I had it yesterday morning at its very worst for about 15 mins of rolling around on the street  clutching my knees and imagining I was giving birth! This afternoon I experienced some mid cycle bleeding which was a first. So I am worried.  However I also know that I can control it. The minute I feel the first 'twinge' which is usually in my lower sacral-illial part of my back, I slow down and walk. When it subsides I continue and usually the pain does not come back even when I run hills. I am curious whether it is a style of uphill running where my back is unnaturally concave which puts pressure on the nerves like the sciatic which in turn causes cramping of the abdominal muscles? I also once experienced the same pain when in the gym on the stairmaster. The motion I noticed was the same as running uphill and I had not warmed up sufficiently.
I am planning to visit my GP but based on accounts here am not holding out for any revelations. I am 37 years old and my main concern is whether it is impacting my chances of having children. I have regularly exercised all my life although running is relatively new for me as is uphill. I only started getting this pain about a year and a bit ago..unlike some of you that have had it for years. I am 5'3" and small build, normal weight. I am pretty fit at the moment through other exercise during which I never ever get this pain.
I don't know whether this has been any help to anyone but my advice if doctors are not a help is to find means of exercise that doesn't bring it on. Or to look at your style of running to see if it is related.
If anyone has some medical advice I would love ot hear it.
Avatar universal

You should condition yourself by walking uphill gradually and then you can run and exert yourself.
You should have proper breakfast or food to give you energy as you are stating that you have this problem only in the early morning.
Juice and fruit platter also would help and do not run or exercise in empty stomach.

Do not exert yourself unduly as some women have problem during menstrual phase, premenstrual phase and during this time do not exert yourself and take rest.

Also consult a fertility specialist to check upon the stress levels and your other vitals and its effects on you getting pregnant.

Take care!
Avatar universal
Am reassured to find this discussion - I have absolutely the same pain - a crippling period pain without the period (although it can occur at any point during my cycle) that happens when I run outside. I first remember it from running cross country at school, tho none of the other girls had the same problem.

I find it a bit terrifying as god knows what's going on with my uterus when it's happening - like many of you I am also worried about the wider health implications - but have been able to find no reputable medical reference to it (although it seems to be a relatively common problem). It seems to be mis-understood as muscle cramps/stitches or PMS - of which it is neither, at least for me.

I am 28, healthy, fit, eat well, exercise well - love running on a treadmill (which doesn't jar the body, perhaps relevant?), and would love to be able to run outside too (for one thing, it's free), but this problem is definitely preventing me doing so. Help!
Avatar universal
Ladies, you are not crazy and regardless of what that doctor says it's not PMS.  You are having uterine contractions. Yes, the same uterine contractions that you have during labor.  This is brought on by a combination of electrolyte imbalance and strain/jarring on the uterus and the muscles around it.  Taking a calcium supplement like TUMS before your run should help - and drinking electrolyte enhanced water products should also help (either before or during your run) and then of course - if the cramping should happen.

You'll probably notice that the pain happens more when you run/cycle outside and if you're especially hot or not well hydrated.
Avatar universal
hi. im a 16 year old girl.. about 5'4 and 115 pounds.. i run cross country and track. this year, during cross country races or just during a rough practice i get these awful AWFUL cramps really low on my stomach.. i try to run through them but sometimes they get so bad i have to stop and double over and clutch my stomach.. if i try to keep running they just get worse. i sometimes try to go faster so i can get done sooner and stop running so the cramps will stop.. but with increased speed the cramps worsen.. If i stop and start back up again the cramps come back and then i just feel really naseaus and it seems like my legs are going to give out.  ... it seems to happen right after the 2nd mile of a 5K or just when im going at a faster pace than usual.. i eat fairly healthy and run 2-4 miles 5 times a week.
Avatar universal
i have been suffering form this exact same pain for as long as i can remember! i dont just get it from running but any strenuous excersise. not matter what positioni lie in it just doesnt help. for the 10 minutes it lasts i am in the worst pain, theonly redeeming factor is that i know it will be over soon. however it feels like it goes forever. sometimes i vomit form the pain and i cant drink water or eat like some people have suggested because im just in too much pain to do anything but lie there and want it to be over. i have recently found that a good position while ithapopening is to kneel on your hands and knees. and sometimes it results in dioreah
Avatar universal
Dr. Vinod - thank you so much for taking time to regularly respond in this forum regarding this subject. Maybe, if you have an interest, you can truly help us...just be sure you are actually listening to us because it sounds like no doctor has been able to help anyone here. We need someone to think outside the box on this one.

Ladies - we all seem to be having the same exact symptoms (minus a few that get this confused with side cramps). It is such a relief to know I am not the only one and that I am not crazy.

These symptoms we have are happening to all of us of different sizes, health status, ages, heights, and the list goes on. I don't believe that this is something that is "wrong" with us as much as it is a painful inconveniance.

My pain started when I was 12 and got my first period. Every month I go through the same thing. I am now 33 yrs old and have started running. For the first time in my life, there is something other than my period that causes this pain. Onset of the cramping while running is when I sprint for more than 30 seconds.

We can figure this out - we can find a way to avoid this pain. Its just a matter of understanding what our body is trying to tell us or what our body thinks is going on with us and ruling out what we all know that doesn't help.

My partner (MD, PhD, Oncology Surgeon) mentioned her one theory (she will be the first to tell you she is not an OBGYN) that when the uterus is "jarred" or disturbed - it goes into protection mode and increase the amount of protective fluid around the uterus - mainly between the colon and the back of the uterus. Increase in fluid causes pressure, which causes poor circulation, which causes pain to the areas directly around the uterus (lower abdomen and top of legs), and also causes a full sensation in the bowel. She suggests taking a couple of Advil (to prevent or lower the amount of any inflammation that might be going on during this) before running - i have not tried this yet but I will be trying it tomorrow.

Someone else mentioned long warmups and stretching tend to help - this might make sense if it will help with circulation.

I have rushed myself to the hospital a few times, had surgery because my OBYN thought I had Endometriosis, have tried the pill, have tried chinese herbs, have tried vitamins, have tried diet, have tried exercise...nothing works as well as Advil - but this cant be the only solution - as it is only a bandaid.

Lets keep sharing possible remedies!

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