We’ve all been there. 3 miles from the house and just starting to loosen in the legs when the feeling hits you. Deep inside your stomach is telling you that a bathroom stop should be the number one priority. Yet we carry on. Until we make it home or can’t physically go any further. But why does running make you poop? Is there any way to prevent it from happening? And why is it always worse on race day?
So let’s get to it and answer this age old running question.
Why does running make you poop?
In an interview with Devin RH Smith MD., he lays it out very simply.
“Walking and jogging tend to increase gastric motility and gastric emptying in everyone; this is a physiologic response” Dr. Smith goes on to say, “movement gets the digestive system moving a little more quickly than if you are sitting still. While it may be inconvenient, it’s never in and of itself a dangerous sign.”
Dr. Smith continues to say that the medical reason for this “likely results from a combination of different factors including blood distribution between intestines and muscles, hormonal changes, mechanical stimulation of the organs and possible stress or anxiety, especially on race day,”
So it’s literally the movement of your body that gets your bowels moving. Dr. Smith goes on to talk about how this affects people of all ages, genders, and race. And that this is perfectly natural. And not to worry if this is something you experience often. Every person is different and there are a few ways to help prevent this from happening.
How to prevent it from happening?
While there is no magic cure. There are more than a few things you can do to reduce the odds of this happening on your next run. These include several recommendations from the Mayo Clinic including limiting caffeine for up to 6 hours before and making sure you are well hydrated.
Dr Smith also shares the opinion that prevention is the best measure. He recommends trying to schedule your runs for after you have a bowel movement. But if this isn’t possible he says to avoid trigger foods up to 6 hours before the run. You will notice the same 6 hour rule mentioned from the Mayo clinic.
Trigger foods include things like caffeine, dairy, sugar, grains and sweeteners. But this can vary person to person. And one of the best ways for you to know what’s affecting you is by keeping a food journal. Writing down the food you are eating at each meal. To track any correlation between when it happens and what you have been eating.
While we’ve answered the age old question, why does running make you poop? Sadly we’ve also discovered there is no magic pill to help solve it. The best we can do is watch our diet, try and schedule runs for after we get our system moving, and be careful in the 6 hour window before we run.
And if you are looking for a little humor on the topic. Check out this Wikipedia for The Mad Pooper. A women that was repeatedly defecated in a specific neighborhood in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Have you found something that works for you? Let us know any tips or tricks you’ve found for keeping your bowels in line while running in the comments below.