Athletes And Acid Reflux: Why Those With Active Lifestyles Get GERD

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Having acid reflux issues is an extremely irritating feeling, as it often entails being unable to keep food settled in the stomach and uncomfortable sensations of vomiting, and many others. While many people experience heartburn issues or illnesses such as gastroesophageal reflux diseases (GERD), it has been reported that these issues are more common with athletes. 

For people with active lifestyles and extremely demanding physical activities being required from them daily to keep fit, GERD is not something that an athlete wants to get. Asides from the fact that it is hard to do anything physical when discomforts are felt, athletes need to be able to consume large amounts of food to fuel their bodies and keep them in shape. 

Around 81 percent of distance runners experience GERD, which may be shocking to many as these runners are some of the fittest people on the planet. Shouldn’t fit people be practically immune to diseases? Well, not really, so here is why athletes are at risk of developing GERD:

Why Athletes?

Research has found that exercise may reduce the flow of blood and its circulation to the digestive system. This is because of the body pumping blood into muscles and limbs, as well as the lungs for cardiovascular assistance. Doing this extremely often and with intensity can change the hormones that help run the digestive system. With some exercise positions placing your body in constrained positions, this can change the way the stomach rests inside your body, along with how the esophagus and muscles work together, which changes the pressure in the abdominal cavity. It was also found that more intense and extended exercise sessions gave greater chances of experiencing GERD in people, which explains why athletes are victims of it. 

The Unmistakable Symptoms Of GERD

GERD makes it difficult to swallow food and drink, leaves a sour taste in the mouth, nausea and vomiting as well as breathing difficulties. This is not only painful and irritating but can also affect the way we workout by reducing our performance because of these symptoms lingering. Feeling even the slightest bit unwell during a workout or sports activity is enough to throw even the greatest athletes off of their A-Game, so GERD will definitely affect any kind of athlete. 

Methods To Avoid Exercise-Induced GERD

One of the simplest ways to prevent GERD is to check the timing of your workout and eating patterns. Avoid exercising heavily within three hours of eating a major meal like breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Eat good pre-workout foods like carbs with low-fat, low-protein, and non-spicy food. 

Always keep your bowels empty before a workout to clear your digestive tract, which will prevent any discomfort and possibly help to reduce the possibility of GERD.

Hydrate constantly to avoid your digestive tract from getting damaged. Always drink around 10 ounces of fluids, preferably water every 20 minutes in the gym or during a workout. Avoid sugary sports and energy drinks and pre-workout mixes, as these ingredients make GERD symptoms elevated. 

Be sure to know your workout limits and only push yourself a little bit further if you are an experienced athlete. Reducing the intensity of your workout will help curb symptoms. Additionally, be aware of your workout posture and form, as some workouts can be damaging to your digestive system when done incorrectly or for extended periods of time. 

Do not stop exercising, as exercise is the best way to combat weight gain. When you let go of your exercise habits, you will end up eating more and will likely exacerbate your GERD symptoms.  


Be sure to keep your body limits in check when you workout, as overexerting yourself can cause acid reflux problems and affect your athletic performance. It may be difficult to deal with exercising with discomfort but always make sure to sneak in light workouts whenever possible. If you cannot handle the discomforts, or they seem to be getting worse, seek professional help.

Reflux Away is your premier source for digestive tract information and on ways to combat acid reflux and other ailments. We are your best heartburn resource and can offer you guides to feeling better in no time. To treat your acid reflux, visit our Heartburn No More website today to see how we can help!