Dark morning, cozy winters, everyone sleeping, you step out of the house with your gears ready and start to run but suddenly in the middle of the run there comes an unwanted urge.
An urge to defecate, which I believe each and every or 60-70 percent of the runners face and usually it comes during the long runs. Clinically it’s called runner’s colitis/runners trots/runners diarrhea. Its symptoms can range from mild to severe ones and can seriously impact one’s performance or can even spoil it.
Some common symptoms may include:
- Acid reflux
- Sudden need to defecate
There had been numerous researches done on it. Some very common theories which explain the science behind it are as:
Our intestine’s ability to absorb its content dwindles down in a dehydrated state. So in such a state the intestine flushes out its content and can lead to diarrhea
- PRE RUN MEAL
Diet is a leading trigger for runners’ diarrhea. The foods which can lead to this runners diarrhea include
- High fiber veggies, fruits and whole grains.
- Foods high in fat
- Protein rich food
- Wheat products
- Dairy products
- Artificial sweeteners
- DIMINISHED BLOOD FLOW
During a run the blood gets re-routed from the intestines to the legs and other body parts & once the blood flow is limited, the intestinal absorption of nutrients and water reabsorption in the colon gets disrupted, causing loose stools.
- UP AND DOWN MOTION
Running whip the bowels and squeezes the intestines. This fastens the flow of food content gas, and stool along the digestive tract, causing a sudden need for a bowel movement.
- PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING DRUGS
- ANXIETY AND STRESS
- IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME (IBS)
- HORMONAL CHANGES
HOW TO PREVENT RUNNER’S TROTS?
- Spend some good time in the washroom to clear the bowels
- Eat right before the run. Avoid eating foods which speed up the bowel movement. Also keep a check on the timing of pre-run meal and its quantity. You should also be prepared for emergencies.
- Stay well hydrated and avoid hot liquids as these can speed up the flow of food through the digestive tract.
- Use a diet journal to keep a track of the meal, timing and portion size and look for the patterns
- Wear loose clothing around the abdomen as tight clothing around the waist can constrict blood flow to the intestines, which in turn may make condition worst.
CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR IN CASE THE DIARRHOEA IS NOT SETTLING AND IF YOU EXPERIENCING THE FOLLOWING
- Bloody or jet black stools
- Intense and frequent diarrhea
- persistent diarrhea even after the exercise is over
- Chronic nausea and ongoing abdominal pain.
- Weight loss
SO IN A NUTSHELL TO CONCLUDE RUNNERS DIARRHOEA IS NOT A SERIOUS CONDITION BUT IF NOT TREATED AT THE RIGHT TIME IT CAN IMPAIR ONES PERFORMANCE
Dr Richa Tandon (PT)
Sports Physio, Running consultant @ Physio Active.
Dr Richa is Masters in MusculoSkeletol Physiotherapy practicing from the past 10yrs in Gurgaon. She is herself a Marathon runner and had completed half marathon recently. She is very active in Gurgaon and first choice as a consultant for beginners and pre-Marathon preparation. Her extensive knowledge on running gait, speed and pace management and Spine role in running make her more effective in solving many issues for beginner and elite runner.