Stomach cramps are also known as side stitches. They are very common among athletes, especially soccer players. It can simply be explained as a pain usually felt around the groin area of the body which can either be mild or so intense that it can stop you from engaging in any regular activity.
Stomach cramps are hard to predict, they usually ensue without any warning signs or prior symptoms, a soccer player can be playing effortlessly in one minute, and in the next minute, they might be growling in intense pain without any prior complaints.
The data on record shows that a good number of professional athletes have experienced stomach cramps during their careers. Stomach cramps usually occur on the upper right side of the stomach, in the same position where two ligaments connect the diaphragm and the liver.
The severity of your stomach pain doesn’t always mirror how serious the cause of the pain is. Something as trivial as intestinal gas or a natural factor like menstruation among females can cause a severe stomach cramp.
A stomach cramp may be out of the ordinary but it often resolves by itself in most cases after a brief rest. In other words, the majority of people that experience stomach cramps will not need medication or therapy to feel better.
Stomach cramps can also be an indication of early signs of serious ailments especially when it is recurrent and must be taken seriously by consulting a health professional.
But, are stomach cramps avoidable? Are there things you eat, drink, or lifestyles that exacerbate the situation? All the answers to your questions are down below.
How to avoid stomach cramps while playing soccer?
Getting stomach injuries while playing soccer isn’t as common as other contact-sport-related injuries such as fractures, bruises, and concussions, but you can strain your groin area by performing certain actions like jumping and diving while playing soccer.
Playing soccer with even the slightest stomach cramp can be very uncomfortable and might lead to other severe complications. Although stomach cramps can be managed while playing soccer, it is advisable to halt play whenever you feel pain around the groin area.
Physiologists don’t have a direct explanation as to why most athletes have stomach cramps while engaging in sporting activities but experts say it may be caused by the rigorous movements of the body organs while an athlete engages in sports.
Stomach cramps can occur while playing soccer due to some of the reasons listed below:
Playing soccer on a full stomach
Consuming a large quantity of fluid or eating 2 to 4 hours before playing soccer can upset your stomach and cause pain. When the weather is warm or sunny, this action will not only cause cramps but can also make you very ill.
Although excess feeding before games can cause stomach cramps, dehydration can also be a major reason for recurring stomach cramps.
Perhaps, this explains why taking little sips of water or Gatorade at intervals during soccer games or training can help prevent cramps from happening—and soccer players do this a lot.
For soccer players that cook their meals, make sure to always check packaged food contents before purchasing them. Some packaged food contains ingredients that can cause gastrointestinal distress.
In order words, you need to pay attention to your body to know the ingredients that trigger your cramp and try to avoid them.
Foods that can cause stomach cramps
Feeling butterflies in your tummy after chatting with your high school crush isn’t the same as getting stomach cramps. Stomach cramps aren’t fun at all especially while playing soccer, we will be showing you some food varieties that can trigger stomach cramps.
- Spicy Foods: Although capsaicin present in spicy foods can promote good health by increasing metabolism, it can also be responsible for stomach cramps and diarrhea. You may develop heartburn after eating spicy foods because it increases acid secretion in your abdomen.
- Carbonated Drinks: Carbon dioxide used in producing carbonated drinks can cause stomach cramps and swelling. When beverages are carbonated, the bubbles in them can cause your stomach to gas.
- Butter: Butter, being high in saturated fat is capable of causing bowel problems such as constipation and diarrhea which leads to stomach cramps. Experts say using coconut oil or olive oil in our meals is better than using creams or butter.
- Dairy: Exempting natural probiotic yogurts from the list, dairy products are capable of irritating the stomach and causing stomach cramps. People who are lactose intolerant will find it difficult to break down lactose that is contained in dairy products.
- Gluten: Gluten products are very common but you might not be aware that they are capable of causing diarrhea, abnormal bowel movements, and stomach cramps. People with Celiac disease can develop complications after consuming gluten products like pasta, beer, cereals, and bread, to name a few.
Inadequate stretch before playing soccer
Soccer coaches insist on proper stretching before training and matches because stretching helps in flexing inactive body muscles and loosens the joints before players start battling for the ball.
Adequate warming up prepares the body for the challenging requirements of soccer. Insufficient stretching before training or soccer matches leaves soccer players susceptible to stomach cramps and even injuries.
There are several stretches you can engage in such as ballistic stretch, dynamic stretch, and static stretch which can help in activating your muscles in preparation for a soccer match or training.
- Ballistic Stretch: This type of stretch involves extending the body muscles to very comfortable levels, it must be done with strict adherence to instructions or by guidance from a qualified physiotherapist.
- Dynamic Stretch: This stretch is the most common type of stretch among soccer players. It involves drills that require a player to stretch the muscles by swinging their legs while hopping around the soccer pitch.
- Static Stretch: Static stretch also called isometric stretch can be explained as a type of stretch which involves flexing the muscles until a slight pull is felt on the muscle. Each particular stretch shouldn’t take less than 10 seconds.
Sprinting without taking random deep breaths
When players are chasing after soccer balls most times on the pitch, they become too focused on winning the ball that they forget to take deep breaths which facilitate normal body function and blood circulation.
Getting a stomach cramp while breathing can be because of some uncommon factors which include, pleurisy, acid reflux, and hiatal hernia. Changing your breathing technique on the soccer pitch can help prevent getting stomach cramps.
While running, you can slowly reduce your speed while whizzing in a few deep breathes of air into your lungs.
You can also practice the popular two-step exhale and three-step inhale breathing technique, making sure you bloat your stomach during any deep inhale and relax it during an exhale.
Foods that can prevent stomach cramps
There are food varieties that can help prevent stomach cramps, most of which can be easily found at local stores and supermarkets near you.
Below is a compiled list of foods which you can choose from:
- Kale: Kale is an awesome remedy for stomach cramps, it has a high content of magnesium and calcium. Adding Kale to your smoothie or frying them wouldn’t only minimize your chances of getting cramps but also increase your immunity.
- Broccoli: Broccoli contains iron and is also high in fiber, it is known to help enormously in preventing stomach cramps.
- Watermelon: Most people love eating watermelon because of its red color and sweet taste but very few people know that it is a good remedy for stomach cramps. Watermelons contain natural sugar which seamlessly goes into the bloodstream and prevents stomach cramps.
- Oranges: Oranges are common to find but most important of all, they contain a good amount of vitamin C, vitamin D, potassium, and magnesium. These nutrients have proven effective in the prevention of stomach cramps.
- Bananas: Bananas are sweet and common. They contain high levels of magnesium and are rich in fiber, they also help in easy bowel movement. Bananas help a lot in preventing stomach cramps from occurring.
It is advisable as a soccer player to always pay close attention to what you eat or drink and the kind of physical exercises you engage in. It is possible to prevent or manage stomach cramps if you avoid taking food or liquids that serve as triggers.
Sometimes it may be important to work with a dietician and your physicians to come up with a list of things you can or cannot eat or drink as well as activities you can or cannot do. This is particularly important if your stomach cramp occurs regularly.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
The Pitch is Ours is a new beginning for me and a stepping stone to prepare before retiring from the professional soccer team. Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!