Women’s health: Why do I get severe stomach cramps after H.I.I.T exercise?

H.I.I.T high intensity training is short bursts of exercise work outs. Aside from rebounding I believe H.I.I.T to be the best exercise for lymphatic circulation and blood flow. Therefore effecting overall health of all organs, tissues and cells. It is also a brilliant way to increase muscle and burn fat. However when there is inflammation, lymph is blocked or there is stagnation in the reproductive or digestive system problems can occur much as cramping. Pain is the bodies mechanism for telling us something needs addressing.

 There are many reason for cramping during or after exercise relating to removal of lactic acid, of which I describe below. Nutrient depletion and hormone imbalances are also common reasons for uterine or lower abdominal pain during exercise. 

The below is an example I hear often in clinical practice:

“I took the pill for years and didn’t get any stomach cramps after running.  I stopped taking it about 6 months again and I am now  back to how I was in my pre pill years as a teenage runner.  I am fine if I don’t push myself, but if I do interval training I am fine until I stop and then get intense lower stomach cramps which lead to vomiting and visits to the toilet.  It takes about 15 minutes to go away and then doesn’t come back when I go back to the treadmill.  I wish there was a solution as it makes you think twice about wanting to push yourself in your training.”
 
The most common oral contraceptive pills contains oestrogen and progesterone. The pill can mask underlying imbalances in these hormones. Imbalances produce dis-ease states like cysts on the ovaries. These can be caused by diet or lifestyle choices.  
 
A perfect balance between estrogen and progesterone is essential for the healthy functioning of the female reproductive system. Progesterone is a natural anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant. It is the natural surge in progesterone levels that cause the uterine lining to shed allowing for monthly menstruation to occur.
 
Low levels of progesterone can induce contractions of the uterine muscles, which in turn, would cause cramping.. While mild cramping is normal during menstruation, severe cramping must not be ignored. Women, who have been grappling with the problem of irregular menstruation or often suffer from severe cramping during exercise, must seek medical advice and get their progesterone levels tested.
 
Do you experience lower abdominal cramping that normally comes on 20 minutes after exercise?
 
As a naturopath I often refer to medical doctors for hormonal blood tests. Upon diagnostic testing from these referrals, I found that many girls and women had underlying conditions that lowered progesterone.
When we look at progesterone we must also look at oestrogen as the two need a harmonic relationship. Oestrogen dominant conditions that lower progesterone can be diet and lifestyle related but also include health conditions such as endometriosis, fibroid cysts and endometriosis. More chronic conditions include pituitary gland abnormalities.
Other possible causes of pain after exercise are pelvic inflammatory disease, diverticulitis, and kidney stones. If symptoms persist after making diet and lifestyle changes or if symptoms are already severe, you must seek medical advice from your doctor.
 
  • Fibroids: Fibroids can be found in the uterus via an ultrasound test. The body can naturally dissolve these but if they get too big it is advisable to have them removed surgically.
  • PCOS polycystic ovaries: it is estimated that 70% of women have cysts on their ovaries. They are found via an ultrasound test. They are only a cause for concern if the get too big. 
  • Endometriosis: this is hard to diagnose as it can only be officially detected with a laparoscopy (key hole surgery into the womb with a tiny camera). Naturopaths however who specialise in women’s reproductive health can usually give direction through advanced naturopathic questioning and testing prior to a referral this invasive surgery.  
Sign up to the RN Cleanse guide and support forum for FREE to remove inflammatory foods from the diet and allow the body to heal naturally. Check out this page on how to clear excess oestrogen OR Book a online naturo medicine appointment here
 
Diet and Lifestyle choices that lower progesterone and cause oestrogen dominance:
 
  • drinking coffee
  • environmental toxins: high plastics use, pesticides and endocrine disruptor chemicals in the air (pollution), chemicals in beauty products.
  • stagnation or excess weight around uterus area
  • insulin resistance
  • high carbohydrate, low fat diet
  • smoking
  • unmanaged stress
  • food intolerances; especially wheat

The good news: SOLUTIONS

  1. Break up cysts or fibroid mass with a simple castor oil poultice. This is magic. See video.  
  2. Replace coffee with green tea. It has a smaller amount of caffeine. Large amounts of caffeine deplete the body of minerals such as magnesium. Natural muscle relaxants. It has antioxidant and anti-ageing benefits too.
  3. Eat low carb, high fibre, high fats. See the Naturopathic diet.
  4. Make sure that you are not constipated. You should be going to the toilet 3x a day if you eat 3 full meals a day. See natural treatment for constipation article for more solutions. 
  5. Drink 1.5litre of water a day away form food. Stay sufficiently hydrated by adding a teaspoon of himalayan salt or celtic salt to 500ml of water before your workout. Salt helps water to penetrate into the cells.
  6. Regularly increase circulation to the area with lower abdominal massage, womb breath and belly dancing
  7. Increase magnesium rich foods to lower the effects of stress; sweet potato, almonds, bananas, avocados, spinach. Magnesium is a natural anti inflammatory.

Confused or need more support? Speak to a natural health expert today 01223 911773

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