Nothing is worse than having a good routine down and then having to put things on hold because of an IBS Flare-up.
As an avid runner and exercise enthusiast having an IBS flare-up is at all too many times inevitable. So what do you do if you like to exercise and you’ve just had a flare-up? Of course, you are probably nervous about how your stomach will react to exercise. I want you to know that you are not alone, and there are some steps you can take.
When I am recovering from an active flare-up I always have to have a plan before heading out. The best thing you can do is ease yourself back in and make sure you keep the appropriate items on hand. What does that mean though? Let’s talk about location, gear, and most importantly how you are nourishing yourself.
Let’s talk location and gear first.
Whether you go to the gym or go out for a walk, bike, or run there are some important things to keep in mind. If you are at the gym- locate all the bathrooms. My husband makes fun of me because I know the location of the bathroom everywhere we go. Yet, knowing where the bathroom is can put your mind at ease so in the event there is an emergent need you know exactly where to go.
Try to wear loose fitting clothing and nothing that constricts your stomach. I also wear dark clothes. Listen, you never know what’s going to happen and I would rather not show the world if I can't make it to the locker room. Bring a change of clothes and keep some baby wipes in your gym bag as well as some gallon size Ziploc bags- just in case.
Avoid doing high impact exercise which can work like a natural laxative. What are high impact exercises? Running, jumping, abdominal exercises. These can aggravate your stomach and make your workout miserable. Ultimately, you know your body and what you can handle. I have learned through experience what I can and cannot do based on what my stomach is doing.
If you are a runner, like myself- know where the bathrooms are on your route. I have a flip belt, which is this cool addition to my gear. I wear it around my waist and I can keep my phone, baby wipes, and any other essentials I may need.
Now that we have discussed location and gear- let’s talk food and nutrition.
I always recommend choosing foods that are easily digestible and lower in complex fiber, especially right before starting your workout. Sometimes it is trial and error with the foods you eat before exercise. I like to eat oatmeal, cereal, toast, banana, or other fruit since these are easily digestible and stay settled in my stomach. I also avoid dairy and fats before I run or workout as these foods have a tendency to upset my stomach and feel unsettled.
One thing I have also discovered is the time of day you are exercising. If it is morning it is much easier to have something light, that you can digest and head out the door. Afternoon and evening workouts can be a bit trickier as you have eaten throughout the day.
On days I know I am going to be doing higher impact exercise like running, I try to have a lunch that is not high fat, doesn’t contain gas producing vegetables, and is lower in fiber. Foods I avoid on these days before working out are beef, salads, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, etc. I save these foods for after my post-workout meal, if everything feels good with my stomach. Again, there is a bit of trial and error to this, but I have never regretted being over cautious when first getting back at it.