Disorders involving stomach acid reflux, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), can be rather painful for the patient, especially in extreme cases. GERD can happen due to exercise too, from excessive contraction of stomach muscles. Some exercises cause the stomach acid to travel up towards the oesophagus, which ends in heartburn, shortly after those exercises have been completed.
4 Tips to Exercise Better
Even though there is a risk that you may experience heartburn either during or after you exercise, this certainly does not mean that you should not exercise. In fact, there are many ways in which you can prevent exercise-induced heartburn.
- Eat sensibly before exercising: Eat foods that are high in carbohydrates and low in fat and protein. Avoid foods such as beverages high in caffeine content, spicy and fatty foods, chocolates and citrus juice – these foods dramatically increase the risk of acid reflux.
- Avoid exercising directly after eating: Wait for one or two hours after you have eaten before engaging in exercise. Exercising on a full stomach puts pressure on the sphincter and increases the chance of acid reflux occurring. The sphincter,of course, is the circle of muscles between the stomach and the oesophagus.
- Drink a good amount of water during exercising to keep yourself well hydrated and to aid digestion. The amount of water you drink may change based on the intensity and length of your exercise.
- Tone down your exercise level by engaging in alternative exercises like walking, cycling and swimming. While many acid reflux disorders can be treated effectively with proper medication, patients can also benefit from practising breathing exercises associated with acid discomfort relief.
Deep Breathing for Relaxation
While acid reflux can come in different doses of severity, a major cause for reflux is experiencing a great deal of stress in one’s life. Research findings conclude that breathing is one aspect, which reduces stress in a great way and also limits the amount of acid reflux. Deep breathing exercises, using the diaphragm (the muscle membrane that controls the inhalation and exhalation of the lungs) to take deep breaths, help the lungs reach full oxygen capacity. This leads to lowering
anxiety and stress levels in a natural way. As a result, the stomach acid will also settle and will be less likely to rise through the oesophagus.
Abdominal Breathing While Seated
Another technique involves the practice of abdominal breathing while in a seated, relaxed position.
- Sit comfortably in a chair, with your chest and rib cage pushed out in front of the body (this can be done by extending the upper back).
- While placing one hand on the chest and another on the abdomen, take notice of how they both move during normal breaths.
- Once this natural pattern is noticed, focus primarily on breathing only from the abdomen (again using the diaphragm). This exercise allows the body to lower blood pressure, thereby increasing a feeling of overall calmness, and reducing the amount of lactic acid in the chest and stomach muscles.
According to Tian Dayton, the limbic system in the human body is responsible for emotion and stress response – and they can be affected by breathing. Limbic breathing holds numerous benefits for the patient, including the reduction of stress and acid reflux tendencies. As with other breathing techniques, limbic breathing is best done in a controlled, comfortable environment with little distraction. This practice is done by the intake of slow,deep breaths in a predetermined pattern/ rate while focusing on the heart rate. This advanced technique of breathing exercise is best done with the aid of a therapist or counsellor.