What is flatus and why does it occur?

what is flatus

Experiencing discomfort in the side of the abdomen while doing physical activities is a common occurrence that can alter our exercise routine. This sensation, commonly called flatus or point, is medically known as transient abdominal pain (TAD). TAD manifests during physical exertion and is an uncomfortable sensation of complex and uncertain origin, influenced by the unique traits of the athlete and the exercise environment.

In this article we are going to tell you What is flatus, how does it occur and how to avoid it?.

What is flatus


Many athletes experience a distressing condition known as flatus. This condition is characterized by a stabbing sensation that originates in the side of the abdomen and is often associated with repetitive movements of the torso. The origins of this discomfort are subject to multiple theories, but fortunately There are numerous methods available to relieve your symptoms and speed up their resolution.

Certain studies propose that flatus should be considered as a condition with different indicators that allow its identification and clinical diagnosis. Various theories associate flatus with its specific location, the type of physical activity performed, the severity of the symptoms or the consumption of fluids before or during exercise.

Why flatus appears

flatus when running

There are several potential factors that could contribute to this situation. Various studies have shed light on the possible factors that contribute to the appearance of this condition. The Andalusian Journal of Sports Medicine highlights some of these causes, among them:

  • The correlation between the spine and body posture, specifically in the upright and standing position, and its impact on temporary abdominal discomfort. Presence of excessive rigidity and increased muscle tension in the stabilizing muscles of the spine in certain athletes.
  • The risk of muscle cramps increases with the intensity of exercise. If a cramp occurs in the abdominal area, the pain is constant at all times due to the presence of muscle tissue in that region.
  • The impact of consuming food or beverages before or during participation in sports activities. Sports that involve competitive racing. After observing multiple sports, the prevalence was found to be as follows: swimming (75%), running (69%), horseback riding (62%), aerobics (52%), basketball (47%) and cycling (32%).
  • Irritation of the peritoneum and overload of the diaphragm are factors that could have important implications. It is worth noting the potential importance of this muscle in relation to these conditions.

The occurrence of flatus episodes is not influenced by an individual's sex or body mass index (BMI), but does correlate with age. In fact, there is an inverse relationship between age and the probability of suffering from flatus episodes. As you age, the risk of having flatus decreases.

Theories of the origin of flatus

Diaphragm and blood flow

The first theory is that flatus occurs because not enough blood reaches the diaphragm, the main muscle that guides our breathing. This happens because Blood is restricted to the diaphragm and spreads to the muscles involved in movement. All of this can cause pain and fatigue.

On the other hand, this theory also explains why we experience pain when we eat or drink. In this case, blood flow is diverted to the stomach and the diaphragm will not be able to receive the necessary blood flow, as happens when we perform physical exercise. This theory does not explain why flatus pain reaches the abdomen.

Ligament movement

Another favorite theory when explaining why flatus occurs is that of the movement of the ligaments that connect the stomach to the diaphragm. In this case it is said that due to the movement generated by running, These ligaments are pulled downward, and it is this "pull" that causes the pain.

Therefore, when we eat or drink, the stomach is fuller, so the oscillations are greater than normal and flatulence occurs.

Gastroperitoneal abrasion

The latest and most popular theory to explain why you experience flatus when running is an overload of the stomach. This overload can cause friction with the peritoneum (the small, extremely sensitive membrane that surrounds the stomach), causing irritation and therefore pain.

Tips to prevent it

pain when running

To ensure that flatus does not hinder sports performance, athletes susceptible to this condition should follow a series of preventive measures. Top recommendations include:

  • Modify your breathing technique. When pain arises, opt for a deep inhalation or perform abdominal breathing.
  • Performing various movements aimed at the abdominal region can effectively relieve the presence of flatus. Activities such as stretching the abdominal area, bending the trunk or applying manual pressure to the region can help eliminate gas. Besides, It is advisable to exert deliberate contractions on the rectus abdominis muscle to promote relief.
  • It's fundamental regulate the consumption of energy supplements, whether solid or liquid, as part of a balanced diet. Additionally, it may be beneficial to incorporate physical therapy into your routine, including exercises that focus on thoracic and spinal manipulation.
  • Avoid eating large amounts before exercising: Eating heavy or large foods shortly before intense physical activity can increase the risk of suffering from flatus. Try to eat light meals at least one to two hours before exercise.
  • Warm up properly: Warming up before starting your exercise routine can help prepare your muscles and reduce the likelihood of flatus. Include stretching exercises and light cardio in your warm-up.
  • Adjust the intensity of the exercise: If you are starting a new exercise regimen or increasing the intensity of your physical activity, do it gradually. This allows your body to adapt more effectively and can reduce the risk of flatus.
  • Avoid exercises that involve sudden movements: Some physical activities, such as running or jumping, can increase the likelihood of experiencing flatus due to repetitive, jerky movements. If you experience flatus frequently, consider exercise alternatives that are gentler on your abdomen.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about what flatus is, its characteristics and how to avoid it.