Vitality

Pooping While Running: Prevent Runner’s Diarrhea, From Marathoners To Beginners

Running can make you feel energetic, empowered, and bloated. "Runner's diarrhea," a drawback for athletes, occurs during a run or immediately after, and is characterized by frequent bowel movements. But, what's causing the sudden urge to defecate?

In Gross Science's latest video, "Why Do I Have To Poop When I Run?," host Anna Rothschild explains there are several theories tied to the fecal emergency, although no one knows the answer.

When you go for a run, your internal body temperature rises — this is especially true on a hot day. Naturally, when things heat up, they tend to get melty, and that's probably part of what happens to feces in your colon. According to Rothschild, "the decelerating forces from your feet landing probably cause an 'emulsifying' effect."

The bouncing motion of running is believed to put extra pressure on the colon, similar to the pressure when your bowels are full, indicating you have to go. Doctors suspect the jostling motion is involved in this phenomenon because runners experience these types of extreme bowel movements more than bikers.

Other factors that influence runner's diarrhea include stress, hormone fluctuations, dehydration and limited blood flow. Inevitably, stress, especially during a big race, can affect your gut while hormone fluctuations during exercise can influence excretion. Meanwhile, dehydration and limited blood flow to your bowels can cause damage to the intestinal lining, leading to a bloody stool. This is an issue that can affect serious runners.

There are no sure-fire ways to prevent runner's diarrhea, but staying hydrated, going to the bathroom before and after running, and watching your food intake could help.

Rothschild suggests running at the same time every day can be useful, since our gastrointestinal tract tends to be on a schedule.

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