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Runner's diarrhea: How can I prevent it?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/runners-diarrhea/AN00376
- With Mayo Clinic physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist
Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.read biographyclose window
Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.
Dr. Edward Laskowski is certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, including subspecialty certification in sports medicine, and is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine. He is co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center and a professor at College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic.
He has been on the staff of Mayo Clinic since 1990 and specializes in sports medicine, fitness, strength training and stability training. He works with a multidisciplinary team of physical medicine, rehabilitation and orthopedic specialists, physical therapists, and sports psychologists.
Dr. Laskowski is an elite-level skier and an avid hiker, cyclist and climber. He approaches sports medicine from the perspective of a physician and an athlete.
In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed Dr. Laskowski to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and he has received a Distinguished Service Award from the Department of Health and Human Services for his contribution to the Council.
Dr. Laskowski was a member of the medical staff of the Olympic Polyclinic at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and has provided medical coverage for the Chicago Marathon. He serves as a consulting physician to the National Hockey League Players' Association and is a featured lecturer at the American College of Sports Medicine's Team Physician Course.
Dr. Laskowski, a Cary, Ill., native, has contributed to Mayo Clinic's CD-ROM on sports, health and fitness, a website guide to self-care, and hundreds of Mayo Clinic articles and booklets in print and online. He is a contributing editor to the "Mayo Clinic Fitness for EveryBody" book, and he has presented lectures throughout the world on health, fitness and sports medicine topics. His teaching expertise has been recognized by his election to the Teacher of the Year Hall of Fame at Mayo Clinic.
"There are many myths and misconceptions about exercise and fitness in general, and also many traditions that don't stand up to scientific scrutiny," he says. "My goal is to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information on sports medicine and fitness topics in a way that you can practically incorporate into your life."
Runner's diarrhea: How can I prevent it?
What causes runner's diarrhea? And what can I do about it?
from Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.
Runner's diarrhea is characterized by frequent, loose bowel movements during or immediately after a run. Runner's diarrhea is most common in long-distance runners.
The cause of runner's diarrhea isn't clear. Contributing factors likely include the physical jostling of the organs, decreased blood flow to the intestines, changes in intestinal hormone secretion and pre-race anxiety and stress. What is clear is that food moves more quickly through the bowels of athletes in training.
Often, simple dietary changes can help prevent runner's diarrhea:
- At least one day before running, limit or avoid high-fiber and gas-producing foods, such as beans, bran, fruit and salad. If you run every day, experiment to find a tolerable level of fiber. Otherwise, simply eat those foods after you run.
- At least one day before running, limit or avoid sweeteners called sugar alcohols — most often found in sugar-free candies, gum and ice cream.
- For three to six hours before running, limit or avoid caffeine and high-fat foods.
- For at least two hours before running, don't eat anything at all.
- Before, during and after running, drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration can lead to diarrhea. Avoid warm liquids, however, which can speed food through the digestive tract.
- While running, use caution with energy gels and energy bars. In some people, these products can contribute to diarrhea.
- If you're lactose intolerant, switch to lactose-reduced or lactose-free milk and milk products.
In addition, wear comfortable, loosefitting clothing when you run. Clothing that's too tight around the waist may aggravate diarrhea. You might also consider reducing the intensity or distance of your runs until the diarrhea improves. Then gradually increase your activity as your signs and symptoms allow. If these tips don't seem to help, consult your doctor for additional suggestions.
- Clark N. Recognizing and managing exercise-associated diarrhea. Health & Fitness Journal. 2012;16:22.
- Viola TA. Evaluation of the athlete with exertional abdominal pain. Current Sports Medicine Reports. 2010;9:106.
- Kwon JH, et al. Gastrointestinal disorders in athletes. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Nov. 16, 2012.
- DeBoer SW (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 29, 2012.
- Laskowski ER (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 27, 2012.