How To Stop The Dreaded Side Stitches
There's nothing worse than a stabbing, crippling stitch in your side that hits just as you're getting into your exercise stride. It can totally destroy the rhythm and quality of your work-out, so we've put together some ideas for beating the stealthy stitch.
What causes it
A stitch is defined as a side cramp or stabbing pain under the lower edge of the ribcage. Its occurrence is linked to strength and fitness levels, food and drink consumption, running technique, and the length and quality of your warm up.
How to stop it happening
To prevent a stitch in the future:
- Improve your fitness level
- Strengthen the diaphragm by using exercises such as those that aid respiratory rehabilitation
- Strengthen your core muscles
- Limit the consumption of food and drink to 2-3 hours before exercising. In particular, avoid drinks of high carbohydrate content and reconstituted fruit juices
- Drink water beforehand to prevent muscles cramps
- Warm up properly
- Gradually increase the exercise intensity
- Try exhaling when the left foot hits the ground, and inhale when the right foot hits the ground
- Run on softer surfaces
What to do if you do get another stitch
If you do experience a side stitch again, try the following possible treatments:
- Stop exercising and push into your stomach on the right side with your fingers, and then up under the rib cage. At the same time, forcefully exhale while holding your lips closely together.
- Bring your running speed down and focus on your breathing till the stitch eases.
- Try belly breathing, which means inhaling while pushing out your stomach and relaxing your stomach muscles on the exhale.
- Stop exercising and touch your toes with your fingers. This moves the liver away from the diaphragm.
- Breathe on different steps
- Reduce the frequency of breathing. For example, while jogging inhale for four steps and then exhale for four steps
- The quick success of the above treatments will depend on what has caused a particular stitch so try all the methods till you get one that works!