Can Exercise Cause Abdominal Pain?

Yes, exercise can sometimes cause abdominal pain due to various reasons. Some of the common causes include:

  • Muscle strain: Intense or new exercises that engage the abdominal muscles might lead to muscle strain or soreness. This discomfort can range from mild to moderate and is typically temporary.
  • Stitch: During vigorous activities like running, some people might experience a sharp, stabbing pain in the abdomen, known as a “stitch.” This pain is usually felt on one side of the abdomen and is believed to be caused by diaphragm muscle spasms or irritation of the ligaments connected to the internal organs.
  • Digestive issues: Intense physical activity can sometimes affect digestion and cause abdominal discomfort. Eating too close to exercising or consuming certain foods that don’t sit well during exercise can lead to cramping or discomfort.
  • Dehydration: Insufficient hydration during exercise can result in abdominal cramping and pain. Dehydration affects the body’s ability to function optimally, including the muscles and organs in the abdomen.
  • Hernia: In rare cases, strenuous exercise might contribute to the development or exacerbation of a hernia, where an internal organ pushes through a weakened area of muscle or tissue, causing pain and discomfort in the abdomen.
  • Underlying medical conditions: Abdominal pain during or after exercise could also be a symptom of an underlying medical issue such as gastrointestinal problems, pelvic inflammatory disease (in women), or issues related to the reproductive organs.

It’s essential to differentiate between normal discomfort due to exercise and pain that might signal a more serious problem. If the abdominal pain is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other concerning symptoms like fever, vomiting, or changes in bowel movements, it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly.

Before starting any exercise program, especially if someone has pre-existing health conditions, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional or a fitness expert to ensure the chosen exercises are suitable and safe for the individual’s health status. Listening to the body, staying hydrated, warming up properly, and gradually increasing the intensity of workouts can help minimize the risk of abdominal pain or discomfort during exercise.