3 Causes of Bloating After Running & Ways to Feel Better

Bloating after running is an uncomfortable feeling, but it is a common occurrence among distance runners. Bloating can happen to someone who is new to running, returning from a hiatus, or increasing training intensity

Exercise is a stressful activity for the body, and here is the process of how the body reacts to exercise-related stress:

  • Stress from exercise prompts adrenal gland to release cortisol, a stress hormone
  • The stress hormone disturbs fluids, propelling it to retain water, which leads to making you feel bloated

 The good news is the bloating disappears up to two weeks from starting a training routine.

If it continues after the two week period, there is likely another cause of the bloating. Those other causes include (but not limited to) water retention issues, medications, and dietary factors.

Water Retention After Running 

There are certain medications that would make a person sweat or urinate more.

Some examples of medications with these side effects are antidepressants and birth control pills. Just like a lack of sodium, some medicines, such as birth control, trigger the body to retain water. 

Another common side effect of medicines that would cause bloating is an increase in appetite. Make sure you eat! 

Dietary factors can contribute to bloating after a run. One of those dietary factors is an intolerance to certain food items, such as dairy. Intolerance to food and exercise can aggravate the stomach and digestive issues.

Eating before running is another factor of bloating because the food is not properly digested.

Undigested food and the jostling from running interrupts the course the food wants to take in the digestive tract. Another factor includes increased appetite due to increased intensity or training.

These are some common causes of bloating after running. The first step to relieving and prevention is finding out what is causing the bloating.

Once the culprit is noted, here are some tips to help make you feel better and prevent bloating after running from happening again. 

Drink Tea

Drinking the appropriate teas helps alleviate bloating naturally. Debloating teas have relaxant and antispasmodic properties. Here are some teas that help rid of bloating:

  • Peppermint is part of the mint family and admired for both medicinal and fragrance properties. The leaves and stems of the peppermint plant contain menthol. Menthol has healing properties that help with digestive discomforts, such as gas and bloating.
  • Lemon balm is another plant in the mint family. It is a common natural remedy for multiple ailments, which includes digestion issues. It has volatile oils called terpenes and eugenol, and these compounds are responsible for easing spasms in the digestion tract, bloating, and gas.
  • Fennel seeds help promote healthy digestion. It has a long history of clearing flatulence because of a compound called sodium bicarbonate.
  • Dandelion root comes from the common dandelion plant. There are two functions the dandelion root performs in regards to alleviating bloating. The first function is it acts as a diuretic, and it increases urination and rids of water retention. The second function is to address other digestive issues, such as bloating and gas, due to several compounds. Those compound are potassium, magnesium, calcium, and iron.

To prepare any of these teas, scoop a 1-1.5 teaspoon serving of leaves or seeds.

Add it to one cup of boiling water, and let it steep for 10min. Then, strain the leaves, and enjoy the tea. The other option is picking up this highly recommended tea for bloating. 

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Maintain Sodium Levels

As stated in this article, low sodium levels are the common cause of bloating after running.

Sodium counts from food can be calculated in many fitness/nutrition apps, such as MyFitnessPal. The amount of sodium a person needs per day is 1500-2300 mg.
When it comes to adding the appropriate amounts of salt in food, there is one thing to keep in mind.

Salt contains 40% sodium and 60% chlorine. Three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt contains 1500mg of sodium, and 1 teaspoon equals 2300 mg of sodium.

Stay Properly Hydrated

Proper hydration is the key to a successful workout. The amount of water to drink per day is two liters. For long distance runners, training while dehydrated and consuming sports gels and bars aggravates intestinal distress.

The distress comes from the lack of blood flow to the digestion tract because of dehydration. The blood flow helps the stomach absorb what is put in it.

For proper absorption of sports gels, drink 6-8 ounces of water within 20-30 min of consumption.

Drink sports drinks with caution because it puts the digestive environment in danger of over-concentration.

Eliminate Food Intolerances

It is best to avoid any food items that cause intolerances before a training session or race. Food intolerances and stress from exercise can flare up digestive issues and create bloating.

Reduce Intensity

Bloating from intense workouts leads to water retention due to elevated levels of cortisol.

Reducing intensity does not necessarily mean turn down the intensity of the workouts. It includes incorporating another rest day.

This technique is a way to allow the body to adjust to a new routine. Other ways to reduce intensity are meditation and journaling.


These are some common tips to remedy and prevent bloating after running.

These tips are more on the natural side of rectifying bloating. There are over the counter drugs, such as lactase supplements and simethicone, that help with bloating and gas.

Knowing the basics of what causes bloating after running is the best form of prevention.

Last update on 2021-05-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API