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April 23, 2017

Running with a Stoma Bag – An Ostomy Runners Guide to Achieving Your Personal Best

Spring has arrived in Canada (sort of) and everywhere you see runners and joggers hitting the local track, trail, park or seawall to leave their problems behind while burning a few calories in the process. However, those that have received a stoma procedure in the past year (or two) may be uncertain about their ability to return to the activity they love best. Do you have to hang up your favorite cross trainers? Certainly not! Running remains to be one of the best ways to maintain your cardiovascular health and you should not rob yourself of it. That being said, we understand your trepidation. Today, InnerGood is stepping up to provide you with a few helpful tips to get you back on track, literally.

5 Tips to Running and Jogging While Living with an Ostomy

1. Wear the Right Gear

Before you begin your new running regime, make sure you have the right appliance. The type of ostomy pouch you wear will make or break your session. Those with a colostomy, ileostomy, or urostomy need bags best suited to them. Otherwise, complications (leaking and chaffing) can occur while on the run. Follow these tips on how to choose an ostomy bag. 

You may have to try out various pouch systems until you find one that fits you best. If it’s not 100% comfortable in your day to day activities it will feel ten times worse while pounding the concrete or rugged trail. Once you’ve found one that is comfortable around the home, office, and gym (etc.), chances are it will fare just fine on your run. But your ostomy running gear requirements don’t stop there. 

You will also want to keep your pouch secure with an ostomy belt, and even a wrap depending on what you wear while running. If you prefer loose fitting clothes then the latter (an ostomy wrap) will come in handy. 

Clothing will be instrumental in your comfort too. Some ostomates prefer form-fitting high-waisted track pants to keep everything more secure, while others don’t want to draw attention to their stoma bag, and opt for a loose fit (addressed above). 

Before joining the local run club, find your comfort zone as it applies to your gear by going out on a few solo runs. Once you do, you’ll be ready to join the flock (if that’s your thing).

2. Fuel for Ostomy Runners

Smart nutrition is essential to a successful run. Given that ostomates have unique nutritional deficiencies, be sure to improve your eating habits accordingly. For example, let’s consider potassium. This mineral works with sodium to balance the fluids and electrolyte levels in your body. Since steady fluid levels help regulate your heartbeat and prevent muscle cramping, potassium is of significance to runners. Given that potassium deficiencies are common to ostomates, you need to be especially mindful to eat accordingly (bananas, oranges, kale, avocado, etc.) and supplement (with physician permission) with potassium before each and every run. Other nutritional supplements that ostomy runners will want to consider include B-12 (necessary for energy maintenance), Vitamin C (aids in the growth and repair of tissues), and B Vitamin Folic Acid (also helps repair and build muscle).

3. Stay Hydrated – Run with a Bottle or Hydration System

Ostomates are at a greater risk of dehydration. Every runner knows to stay hydrated while on a run, but as an ostomate, you need to be more mindful. That means packing an extra bottle if there are no drinking fountains along your path. It’s a good idea to invest in a runner’s backpack or belt with a hydration system so that you’re not double-fisting bottles on every trek. Many runners don’t bother to bring water on short (ten to fifteen-minute) sessions. This does not apply to you. You must always bring water.

4. Avoid Bursting Your Bag While Running

You may be concerned about ballooning and bursting your stoma bag while running. While not a common occurrence, we understand your concern. A few helpful tips will abate this. Stay away from gas-inducing food and drink before a run (a good idea for everyone). In addition, monitor your breathing habits while running. If you’re gulping in air (as opposed to properly inhaling and exhaling) you increase the risk for ballooning. Be sure to breathe deeply during your run, taking a very deep breath in intervals and forcefully exhaling to push all the air out of your lungs. Follow these additional tips to prevent your ostomy bag from bursting while running.

5. Get Fit for Running

Overall fitness is the key to your return to that track, trail, park or seawall. You will need to rebuild your core after receiving a stoma. This will involve core fitness exercises in the gym, along with some light to moderate weight training. Get clearance from your physician and proceed to reference this guide to being #OSTOFIT and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your personal best.

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