Q+A: How can I get rid of stomach pain when I run?

Q I often suffer from stomach pains when running. I’ve tried antacid tablets, but without success. The pain sometimes eases when I bend over. I think that I’m eating correctly and not too soon before running. What do you suggest I do to solve the problem?

A When you have food in your stomach, the body produces acid in order to start the digestive process. With an empty stomach, the acid has nothing to attack but the stomach lining, and can be a source of pain. And although we advise people to leave three hours between eating and running, no one has ever said the same about drinking. Water or energy drink may relieve the discomfort.

Taking an antacid tablet on an empty stomach may cause gas inside the stomach, which stretches it, causing pressure pain. If your pain is due to acid, you should consult your doctor with a view to being prescribed a tablet known as a proton pump inhibitor for a couple of weeks, as this may also help.

However, bending over to counteract stomach pain is a classic position for a runner to take in order to get rid of a stitch. A stitch is a form of spasm in the diaphragm muscle. It can be caused by a failure to warm up properly, unconditioned core muscles or even stretching caused by a bloated stomach (as might be produced by gas), and could also be the cause of your discomfort.

Dr Patrick Milroy, RW Medical Advisor