Q: I get stomachaches after I run. Do you recommend anything to prevent this?
A: When presented with a patient suffering from specific symptoms, the goal of many Western medical professionals is to eliminate those symptoms. If you were to go to the doctor and ask about these stomachaches, you might be given one of several different medications to help minimize the incidence of those stomachaches — be it an antacid tablet or Gas-X — and then find out if the symptoms persist. In contrast, the primary goal of an Ayurvedic practitioner would be to determine the underlying cause of those symptoms. Much like an auto mechanic might not just have to resolve leaks in an engine but determine if one of the primary components of the engine isn’t functioning properly and therefore is causing the leaks, so too must an Ayurvedic practitioner determine what about the body is out of balance. Given this, it would be irresponsible to assume what precisely is causing your stomachaches without a more extensive investigation into your diet, your physical activity aside from your running, other lifestyle considerations, and your underlying constitutional nature.
However, the fact that you specifically get stomachaches after you run seems indicative of an aggravation of either your Vata dosha, which is concerned with movement and elimination, or your Pitta dosha, which is concerned with heat and digestion. It would of course be ideal for you to consult with a trained practitioner to make such determinations, but you might benefit from an investigation into what basic imbalances in your body may be causing your stomachaches. If your symptoms are accompanied by profuse amounts of sweat, irritated skin, diarrhea, a sour taste in the mouth, or a general feeling of excess heat in the body, then your stomach aches are likely the result of a Pitta imbalance. If your symptoms are accompanied by dry skin, dry stool, constipation, bouts of insomnia, or general feelings of anxiety, then your stomachaches are likely the result of a Vata imbalance. See below for general guidelines of how you may gently shift your lifestyle to perhaps reduce or eliminate the incidence of stomachaches. Please keep in mind, though, that it is always best to consult with an experienced practitioner before making any sort of changes in lifestyle.
Here are some additional tips:
- If you determine that your imbalances are primarily Pitta in nature, then your running is likely exacerbating an already-existing abundance of heat in the body. Consider switching out your running regimen with a gentler form of physical activity, like walking or a Pitta-reducing yoga posture routine. This can be supplemented with the consumption of Pitta-reducing foods like white rice, cow’s milk, cauliflower, broccoli, and ghee as well as herbs like turmeric and coriander.
- If you determine that your imbalances are primarily Vata in nature, then your running is likely exacerbating an already-existing abundance of air and movement in the body. Consider switching out your running regimen with less rapid movement, like Qigong or a Vata-reducing yoga posture routine. This can be supplemented with the consumption of Vata-reducing foods like ghee, sesame oil, carrots, sweet potatoes, and white rice as well as herbs like cumin and cardamom.