Has anyone heard of "shunting"?

Leauxra
Leauxra Posts: 18 Member
A year ago I started running and if my HR was high, I would get these lower abdominal cramps. They felt like MS cramps but so bad I would literally collapse in pain crying. Then my HR would come down and they'd just go away like they never happened.

It happens whenever I work on my speed and it's a pain in the *kitten*. I went to the doctor and he said it was called "shunting" and it was normal. Apparently when you work out really hard your body diverts oxygenated blood away from the less important organs (digestive, reproductive) to the heart, lungs, and extremities. Then sometimes your less important organs freak out and hurt like crazy.

He said it should get better as I get fitter, and it did a little, but it's still terrible.

Has anyone heard of or experienced this? What did you do about it?

Replies

  • hill8570
    hill8570 Posts: 1,466 Member
    I've had more than my share of side stitches and abdominal cramps over the years (which, at least by some theories, are caused by the shunting effect), but never to the degree of pain that you describe. Do a search on "Exercise-related Transient Abdominal Pain" (the technical term for stitches) and see if any of the literature describes pain in the location and to the extreme that you experience.
  • Leauxra
    Leauxra Posts: 18 Member
    I went to the gyno a few months ago. She did a pelvic and a TV ultrasound and she said it all looked good.

    It doesn't feel like a side stitch. I burst an ovarian cyst once and it feels kinda like that, except only for like 15 minutes tops.

    Basically like really intense uterine cramps.

    It just sounds so crazy that your body would deoxygenate your own organs to that extent.
  • lorrpb
    lorrpb Posts: 11,465 Member
    Sounds horrible. Maybe you could try to pace yourself during to workouts to prevent this;.
  • Leauxra
    Leauxra Posts: 18 Member
    Yeah. That's what I'm gonna do
  • jimmmer
    jimmmer Posts: 3,535 Member
    You should probably pitch your running intensity/duration lower so that your HR isn't so high that blood is diverted from organ support....

    ... how are you measuring/progressing your training? Are you just winging it with the intensity/vol/freq or are you on some sort of controlled progression?
  • msf74
    msf74 Posts: 3,498 Member
    Sure, as your doc says its normal. It's why you sometimes see people trying to take on gels or whatever during races and then immediately throwing them back up. The body says a big fat "nope" to digestion as it is diverting its resources to the intense demands of the exercise.

    It's not something which affects me because I have learned to manage intensity through trial and error.

    If you don't have a structured training plan in place then get one and look up methods to help keep intensity at reasonable levels for most of the time (running at a conversational pace, the Maffetone method or whatever floats your boat.)
  • Cherimoose
    Cherimoose Posts: 5,210 Member
    Leauxra wrote: »
    I went to the doctor and he said it was called "shunting" and it was normal. Apparently when you work out really hard your body diverts oxygenated blood away from the less important organs (digestive, reproductive) to the heart, lungs, and extremities.

    During shunting, my understanding is your hands would get cooler and you'd have a weaker radial pulse. Is that the case with you?

    Try cycling at the same HR and see if you get the pain. That would rule out physical irritation from the running movement, like with some side stitches. :+1:

  • jmaidan
    jmaidan Posts: 93 Member
    Jeez that really doesn't sound normal no matter what the doc says. Never had anything like that and have put myself through some extremely brutal workouts