I Feel Pain in My Lower Abdomen When Running as a Female

Lower abdomen pain when running as a female can be caused by pelvic floor dysfunction or a muscular strain, among other causes. In most cases, it’s best to see a healthcare professional about your stomach or pelvic pain–especially if it lasts longer than 24 hours.

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Pain in lower abdomen when running female can be scary. Read on to learn what to do if it happens to you.

Feeling pain in the lower abdomen when running as a female can be miserable…and scary. Afterall, your internal organs are housed there. Surprisingly and unfortunately, pain in the lower abdomen when running female is common – especially for women who have given birth.

Our lower abdomen includes the pelvic floor–a sling of muscles that hold the contents of our pelvis (aka our organs). This area, along with the deep core muscles, undergo a lot of changes during pregnancy and childbirth. They stretch and move to accommodate the growing fetus and birth of your baby.

And these changes don’t automatically reverse once you’ve had your baby. It takes months and often, rehabilitation, for these muscles to regain strength and function.

Related: Is 6 Weeks Too Soon to Return to Running After Having a Baby?

For this reason, when we return to running postpartum, these muscles may not be doing their jobs properly to transfer the impact or support your stride.

This is something that I learned recently—after battling injuries for almost 5 years postpartum. I saw a pelvic floor physical therapist and learned that I had ab separation that contributed to poor coordination of my core when running. I did not experience pain my lower abdomen when running as a female—but I did have lot so other pain elsewhere because of my pelvic floor.

Issues with your pelvic floor are a main culprit behind abdominal pain while running which is why I connected with Dr. Carrie Pagliano, a pelvic floor physical therapist, for this article. There are many other potential causes for lower abdominal pain when running, too.

Before I get to the causes of lower stomach pain after running and tips to pelvic pain after running, note that I am not a doctor, and you should talk to yours about any health concern you have.

Okay, let’s go!

pelvic pain pin
Do you feel pain in your lower abdomen when running? Figure out why your uterus hurts, and how you can strengthen with pelvic floor exercises for runners. Pin these tips for later.

Causes of Lower Abdominal Pain in Female Runners

Pelvic floor dysfunction.

Issues with your pelvic floor including lack of coordination of your pelvic floor, weakness, and tightness (aka a hypertonic pelvic floor that can’t relax) can lead to tender points that refer to the abdomen, notes Dr. Pagliano. For example, a too tight pelvic floor muscle may cause tightness or overcompensation elsewhere in your kinetic chain. Commonly, bulbospongiosus muscle pain female and ischiocavernosus muscle pain female contribute to pelvic floor dysfunction as these two small muscles are near the vaginal opening and the pudendal nerve.

Fibroids and cysts.

Uterine fibroids (growths in the uterus) and ovarian cysts (pockets of fluid on the ovaries) can also lead to pain in the lower abdomen, says Dr. Pagliano. Particularly, these issues may cause heaviness or pressure in your lower abdomen, especially when running. If you are thinking, “why does my uterus hurt when I run?”—this could be a reason.

Related: When to Start Pelvic Floor Therapy Postpartum?

Muscle strain.

It is possible for you to strain your abdominal muscles, especially your psoas (a long ropey muscle that connects from your spine to your pelvis) and your hip flexor muscles (notably, the iliacus which works to rotate your thigh) when running. This is especially common in new runners or runners who suffer from the “disease of more”—doing too much too soon. A muscle strain in your core or hip flexors is a common reason for lower stomach pain after running.

Inflammation of the pubic symphysis.

A common cause of lower abdomen pain in female and a sore pelvis after running is inflammation of the pubic symphysis, the joint where the pelvic bone meets. This is called osteomyelitis (inflammation of the joint where the pubic bone meets). I have had several friends have this, in fact. The joint is sensitive to the touch and can also cause pain around your hip joint and groin area.

Related: My Experience with Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy

Stress fractures of the pubic bone.

Stress fractures in the pubic area can also cause abdominal pain in runners. This area will also be sensitive to the touch.  

Sports hernia.

A sports hernia (also called athletic pubalgia) is an injury (usually a tear) in the muscles and/or tendons in your lower abdomen or groin that causes chronic pain. This pain is usually chronic.

Side stitch.

A side stitch or a diaphragmatic spasm is a common cause of stomach pain while running. This will be an intense pain in one side and happens when the diaphragm, a dome-shaped muscle in your stomach, spasms. It’s typically caused by running too fast too soon or eating or drinking too much too close to running.

This is not an exhaustive list of stomach pain after jogging—but it does include likely causes.

Related: How to Get Rid of Side Stitches

pelvic pain pin
Do you feel pain in your lower abdomen when running? Figure out why your uterus hurts, and how you can strengthen with pelvic floor exercises for runners. Pin these tips for later.

9 Tips for Preventing Stomach Pain After Jogging

1. See a doctor.

If you have lower abdomen pain while running or after running, see a healthcare professional. Rule out medical issues first, says Dr. Pagliano. If you’ve been cleared of issues such as fibroids or a hernia, it may be time to see a running-informed pelvic floor physical therapist.

2. Strengthen your pelvic floor.

As noted, if you don’t have medical issues causing your abdominal pain, it’s likely worthwhile to focus on strengthening your pelvic floor with the guidance of a pelvic floor physical therapist. A pelvic floor physical therapist will guide you in how to strengthen, coordinate, and relax your pelvic floor muscles.

They may also ask you to get a pelvic wand such as the Intimate Rose which can help loose tight spots in your pelvic floor. I used a pelvic wand regularly for several weeks, and I can say it helped a lot with my hip pain!

Related: How to Relax Tight Pelvic Floor Muscles

Now, since running is a full-body strength exercise, you may be wondering: does running strengthen pelvic floor? Sadly, the answer is no—not really. Pelvic floor strengthening requires very intentional (often tiny) movements that running does not entail.

Some pelvic floor exercises for runners your pelvic floor physical therapist may prescribe could include:

3. Strengthen your core.

Since abdominal pain can come from muscle strains while running, it is smart to strengthen your core muscles. I recommend runners incorporate core exercises into their dynamic warm-up to habituate their core work.

A pelvic floor physical therapist can guide you in what core exercises are best for your body. If you have diastasis recti, you do not want to perform ab exercises that cause your stomach to cone or dome. Some safe core exercises for runners could include:

Related: Transform Your Postpartum Abs with These Key Moves

4. Hydrate (but not too much).

To prevent a side stitch which is often caused by dehydration, make sure you stay hydrated. Carry a water bottle with you and sip on it throughout the day. However, do not over-hydrate before you head out the door. The sloshing around of liquid in your stomach can cause abdominal pain when running. Instead, aim to drink about 16 ounces of water or a sports drink about 30 minutes before your run. And, aim to drink that amount for every hour or running.

Related: Runner’s Hydration Guide

5. Leave time for digestion.

Eating unfamiliar foods, or foods that are heavy, greasy, spicy, fibrous, or fatty, can lead to side stitches. Eating a lot of food too soon before running can also trigger side stitches. Your best bet is to stick to simple carbs about 2 hours before running. Any heavy meals should be eaten at least 4 hours before running. Leave plenty of time for digestion.

6. Run tall.

Practicing good running form where your head is over your shoulders, your shoulders stacked over your hips, and hips over knees with a slight lean forward will help you avoid stomach pain while running. Practice good posture with your shoulders back and your spine straight, no hunching. Every mile, do a body check where you ensure you are “running tall.” Running slouched can cause side stitches and muscle strains!

7. Control your breath.

Shallow, quick breaths may also cause diaphragmatic spasms. If you start to notice abdominal pain while running, slow your breath. Slow down and inhale and exhale for 4 counts each. This will help relax your diaphragm and any other muscles that may have tensed.

8. Stretch.

Stretching your torso and hip flexors before running can help you avoid pain in your abdomen while running. Try these stretches:

  • Stand tall with your arm up overhead. Lean to one side and feel a stretch in your side. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the other side.
  • In a kneeling position, lift your arms overhead as you push your hip forward feeling a stretch in your hip flexors. Hold for 2-3 seconds. Repeat 10 times on both sides.
  • Sitting cross-legged, twist your torso so that you are looking over one shoulder with one hand on your knee and on the floor behind your back. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 2-3 time son each side.

You can also release your diaphragm, psoas, and iliacus muscles using a foam roller or lacrosse ball. It’s best to ask a physical therapist about how to do this.

9. Get a running coach.

Running injuries often happen when a runner does too much too soon or doesn’t listen to their body to heed signs that it needs a step back or a break. A running coach (like me!) can help you stay accountable, safely increase volume, introduce speed, balance strength training and running, run the right pace for your fitness level, and balance your rest and training days (to name a few).

Learn more about my run coaching services »

Prudent steps can prevent pelvic pain!

When to Seek Medical Advice

In most cases of inexplicable pain when running, including pain in the lower abdomen when running or after running, it’s smart to talk to your health care professional.

This is especially true if the pain is severe; lasts longer than 24 hours; is accompanied with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or bloating; is worsening; and is strange (isn’t an obvious muscular strain, for example).

Avoid Pelvic Pain After Running

The best way to avoid pelvic pain after running is to strengthen your pelvic floor and core, follow an intentional running plan, and have proper nutrition and hydration for your run training. All these tenants support a career of healthy and successful running!

Get more inspiration to run while pregnant »

If you’d like assistance with your running journey, check out my run coaching services and my other free training plans:


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