My female client likes to run marathons. It is truly her passion in exercise. Every time she runs long distances she suffers from intense diarrhea. I first thought it was her sports drinks, but it happens even if she drinks water. Any thoughts?
Sorry for the delay in this answer - I have been doing my homework to bring you some of the best suggestions there is to offer. I want to address this question with different possibilities. First, you mentioned that you tried different liquid sources and all of them seemed to give the same response. With that said, the next step is to go to the digestive tract. You mentioned she got checked out by a Western based doctor and there seemed to be nothing wrong.
I want to suggest a detox or cleansing routine. I would like to refer you to an article in the March/April issue of Life Experience magazine called Clean Sweep. It was written by Jane Alexander, author of 16 natural health books, including one called Detox for Mind Body Spirit. In the article and more in depth in her book, she discusses how people have toxins built up in their bodies that are not easily cleansed. With all the chemicals used in today’s world it isn’t surprising that our bodies need some help in cleansing them from our system. In fact, many of the chemicals around today were not even invented 50 years ago. That means our bodies have not yet adapted a way to efficiently rid our bodies naturally.
Alexander’s whole premise is that we need to help the body cleanse itself to become less toxic. Another big believer of naturpathic eating and living is Paul Chek. He has been talking about waste products in our bodies and the proper bowel movements for years! One of the major signs of toxic overload is stress in the digestive tract, which can also be an early symptom of an overloaded liver. Most diseases can take 15 to 20 years to develop into a full-blown condition. We need to listen to the early signs and take action to ensure our optimal health in the future. Making a ‘clean sweep’ may be the answer she is looking for.
The next idea I had is one that you had touched upon yourself. Some core training could help the problem. The reason core training can help might not be the reason you may have thought. Core training can help the digestive tract because many of the nerves that innervate the core musculature also innervate the digestive tract. I suggest you do a thorough movement and rotational screen on your client. It is very typical that long distance runners suffer from a posterior pelvic tilt and pronation distortion pattern stress overload. If she is stuck in a posterior pelvic tilt she could be impinging some of the vital nerves that help with digestion. Good posture is the most basic fundamental of optimal health. I cannot urge trainers enough that before doing anything with your clients you do an extensive screening process. It is always amazing to me how many things pop up when I do the full health history, movement screen and postural assessment.
When I am on the road lecturing some times students come up and ask me what is ‘wrong’ with them. I try to do the best I can on the spot, but it is never as effective as when I can sit down with them and get all of the information. The problem often stems from something simple that happened in their past. For example, I worked with a lady who couldn’t rotate efficiently to the right. I tried everything and could not figure it out. After the class we sat down and I got some health history on her. She had surgery 5 years ago where they cut through her abdominals! Unfortunately, she was not given any rehab any she hadn’t restored full mobility. Within 5 minutes of hearing the news we re-programmed her movements and she regained full rotation. The moral of the story is to always try to get a full background on someone before you work with them.
The last suggestion is just a Band-aid solution, but could keep her enjoying running for a while. Have her use an over the counter enema about an hour or so before her race. Have her then run and see if it still occurs. If the diarrhea comes back during the race, for the next race follow the enema with an anti- diarrhea medication like Immodium AD. Make sure she takes in plenty of fluids. The biggest immediate danger of diarrhea is dehydration. Coupled with the facts that she is running a marathon and losing high amounts of fluid, not to mention the anti-diarrhea medication will also dry her up. So be careful and be sure to test any method several times in training sessions. This is just one of those quick fixes that can help her ‘run the big race’ occasionally, but definitely not advised as a long term solution. Good luck, this was definitely an interesting question to answer.