Bloating During Racing and Training

author : AMSSM
comments : 1

Member Question from Artist

"To follow up with the question about hands swelling: When I run tri's or exert hard over a period of time my whole body looks bloated. I also have tried to keep up the fluids during hard activity. I was using sport beans for help with the electrolytes, but it seemed to make things worse. I am overweight, but look much less than the scale says except after vigorous exercise. Should I try more electrolytes, water or something else?"

Answer from Chris Koutures, MD

Member AMSSM

Hello Artist,

Feeling bloated is a common concern with endurance sports like triathlon.  Some individuals have a greater tendency to retain fluids during exercise. While some fluid intake is important during long exercise bouts, either taking in too much fluid or not taking in enough salt with the fluid can lead to overload and a bloated feeling. Salt helps keep fluid in the blood vessels.  When there is either too much fluid or not enough salt in the body, fluid tends to escape blood vessels and travels to other parts of the body. While this bloated feeling can be a big nuisance, it can also lead to precariously low blood sodium, an increased risk for seizures, and potentially life-threatening swelling in the brain and lungs.

In the past, many authorities incorrectly recommended endurance athletes drink large quantities of fluids every 15 minutes.  Now, the sports medical community recommends drinking fluids only when thirsty and not on a forced schedule. In addition, consumption of water is discouraged in place of electrolyte-containing sport beverages at minimum coupled with the intake of pretzels, chips, and other significant salt-containing foods in individuals who might need more salt.

How can you tell if you are drinking too much fluid or not getting enough salt?  Check your weight before exercise and then again after you are finished. If your weight is up- even a pound or two- that likely represents excessive fluid intake. In addition, look for swelling of fingers and hands (check fit of watches and rings) or the foot and ankles (sock marks are a tell-tale sign). If you notice any of these findings, work on either limiting overall fluid intake or focus on taking in additional salt during your workout.

Also, some people are “salty sweaters” who lose salt and thus have more trouble keeping fluids in proper places.  Common signs of a salty sweater include having sweat with a heavy bitter or “salty taste” along with heavy white “salt marks” on exercise clothing.  Many “salty sweaters” need to increase salt intake both during exercise and also in daily food and beverage intake.  However, since higher salt intake can increase blood pressure and potentially contribute to other health concerns, check with your physician before making an increase in dietary salt intake.

In summary, I recommend watching your fluid intake, and if necessary, replacing water with substances that contain more salt. Don’t feel there is a need to drink fluids on a preconceived or forced schedule, rather take them in as your thirst and body signal the need.

Here is a great set of recommendations for endurance athletes: http://www.aimsworldrunning.org/guidelines_fluid_replacement.htm

There might be other health issues that are not as common but can lead to a bloated feeling after exercise. If the above fluid and salt adjustments do not help, or especially if you are noticing a significant drop off in your ability to finish workouts or compete at your usual level, make an appointment with your physician or a local sports medicine doctor to review your overall health and training capabilities.

Good luck!

Chris Koutures, MD, FAAP
Pediatrics and Sports Medicine
Anaheim Hills, CA
Medical Team Physician, Cal State Fullerton and USA National Volleyball Teams
www.kouturessportsandartsmed.com

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date: January 20, 2011

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AMSSM

The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) was formed in 1991 to fill a void that has existed in sports medicine from its earliest beginnings. The founders most recognized and expert sports medicine specialists realized that while there are several physician organizations which support sports medicine, there has not been a forum specific for primary care non-surgical sports medicine physicians.

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avatarAMSSM

The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) was formed in 1991 to fill a void that has existed in sports medicine from its earliest beginnings. The founders most recognized and expert sports medicine specialists realized that while there are several physician organizations which support sports medicine, there has not been a forum specific for primary care non-surgical sports medicine physicians.

FIND A SPORTS MEDICINE DOCTOR

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