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It’s Not Always The IBS That Stops You

When you’ve had IBS for a while, you get used to it slowing you down and stopping you from doing certain things. Because of that, you’ll often choose not to do something because you know it will trigger your IBS and then slow you down later. In some ways, avoiding potential triggers is a smart strategy because it helps to keep your IBS under control. But it’s important to remember that not everything will trigger your IBS, so it’s not always your IBS that will stop you.

When I started running, my IBS did slow me down at first

Earlier this year, I started running again and my goal was to complete a ‘Couch to 10K’ running program. When I first started, my IBS did slow me down. I had to gradually build up my distance at a slower rate because the running aggravated my belly. All that jiggling and movement felt terrible and I’d get symptoms the next day.

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But I refused to give up. So I added in abdominal exercises to improve my core muscles so that my belly wouldn’t jiggle around so much. That caused its own problems, though.

The one type of exercise that my body truly hates is core strengthening exercises, especially if I work really hard at them. My belly gets extremely bloated, even worse than after a food trigger, and I get constipated. So for a long time, I avoided doing core strengthening to avoid these side effects.

But if you want to run, you need a strong core, so I had to find a way to get past this problem. My strategy was to take it very slow. I went back to the simplest core exercises and kept my reps low enough so that I didn’t get symptoms. Then I gradually increased the reps and the difficulty of the exercises until my core was stronger. I never did extremely challenging exercises, but that’s okay. I only needed enough core strength to get me by, not to create a 6-pack.

But after I got used to it, it wasn’t IBS that slowed me down

Once my belly stopped jiggling around every time I ran, I was able to run without triggering my IBS. I got to the point where I was running for 25 minutes every second day without any gut problems. I was so happy.

Not only was my IBS not stopping me, but the running was also keeping my mental health stable. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to run… because intensive exercise decreases my stress, limits anxiety and keeps depression at bay, which also helps my IBS.

And then I ran into problems. Quite literally. I developed an overuse injury called patellofemoral pain syndrome. For me, this was caused by a muscular imbalance in my legs and hips. Some muscles weren’t strong enough and other muscles were compensating, causing incorrect movements that created pain in my knee.

So now it wasn’t the IBS slowing me down, but my knee. For now, I’m not allowed to run. I can walk and I have rehab exercises to correct my muscle imbalances, but I can’t do anything that will impact my knee. But I am allowed to strengthen the rest of my body, including my core. So I’m continuing to work on that (carefully) while my knee, legs, and hips fix themselves so that I can start running again.

My lesson from this was that I shouldn’t always make choices based on my IBS… because it’s not always IBS that stops you from doing the things that you want to.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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