The pain you experience in the lower abdomen from running is probably harmless, but you may also consider seeing a doctor about it.

“Lower left, or lower right for that matter, pain can be from something as typical as a muscle ‘stitch,’” says Marc I. Leavey, MD, a primary care physician with 40+ years of experience.

What is the runner’s stitch?

Dr. Leavey explains, “This is a muscle cramp of the abdominal muscles caused by vigorous exercise without good preparation.

“Dropping back to a slower rate, exercising the area, and being sure that you are in good condition and well-hydrated are mainstays of preventing this issue.”

Drink water before you go on your run, as this will help prevent the pain in the lower abdomen. Even if you’re not thirsty, drink that water.

Don’t wait till the cramp comes on to do it. If the lower stomach pain occurs while you’re running, slow to a walk and take out the water, warming down with the walk, then stop and drink up.

Other Possible Causes of Lower Stomach Pain when Running

“However, there are a plethora of issues that can arise apart from this which can cause very similar pains,” says Dr. Leavey.

“Abdominal or inguinal hernias, issues with the intestines or GI tract, and gynecologic problems can also cause pain with running, often indistinguishable from a simple stitch.

“So, if you are having pain, and it does not easily resolve, or if there are any questions at all, you really should see your physician to be sure that nothing serious is going on.”

Women should head first to their gynecologist, even though it may seem logical to head first to the gastroenterologist.

A problem with the ovaries could cause pain in the lower abdomen that may become more apparent when running.

Dr. Leavey was formerly with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD, where his focus was primary care and internal medicine. He has a blog, STRING OF MEDICAL PEARLS.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.