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The Painful Running Side Stitch - Can It Be Prevented?

Ever had a running side stitch?

Then you know it can be quite painful.

Brought on by running, the pain under your rib cage is quite irritating and can occur on both sides.

Normally the side stitch occurs on the right side, starts right under the rib cage and radiates downward.

Running is normally the cause of a side stitch but other excessive exercise can cause it as well.

Although it is not recognized as a sports injury, the side stitch occurs more often in sports that are vigorous such as running and jumping.

Side Stitch and Your Breathing

A side stitch is caused when the diaphragm muscle spasms. You usually have a fixed, certain way of breathing when you run. Seventy percent of people exhale when their left foot goes down.
When you inhale the diaphragm is forced downward by the lungs filling with air. Then exhaling air is forced out of the lungs and the diaphragm rises. A big organ like your liver (located on the right hand side of your body) will pull the diaphragm down When your foot hits the ground. Suppose you are exhaling (diaphragm rising) when your right foot hits the ground (liver downwards), then we have got two movements, opposite to eachother going on at the same time. This stretches the diaphragm, causing pain.

What To Do Immediately When You Are Struck by a Side Stitch

The best thing to do when this happens is to stop whatever activity you are doing. The next best thing is to decrease the force with which you are doing the activity. Although the side stitch pain is quite intense, stopping the exercise usually helps.

How to Prevent a Side Stitch

Changing the way you breathe is another way to prevent a side stitch. Pay attention to the way you breathe and if you exhale when the right foot goes down, try exhaling as your left foot goes down. There are other methods which can be utilized for preventing a side stitch. Instead of breathing little short breaths, try deep breathing.

A few other things to do are to make sure you have had a proper warm up before getting into your exercise program and to make sure you do not ask too much of your body. So increase your mileage safely in order to build up your cardiovascular health gradually.

Also consider to build up a strong core. This is generally good to prevent a running injury but definitely aslo good to prevent a side stitch. So implement some exercises that target the back, abdominal and oblique muscles. This will help to keep your body from rebelling and causing many areas to start hurting.

It is also best not to eat before your run and keeping yourself hydrated is very important. Drinking plenty of water or other beverages that contain vitamins and minerals is one way to replenish the body. When running you perspire and this can cause loss of minerals. By replenishing these minerals you will help to keep your body is top shape. This can help to prevent a side stitch and other problems.

Exercise is very important to your health.

However, you must know the proper way to start to avoid causing problems that are painful and may prevent you from future exercise.

A side stitch is very painful and preventing it can be achieved if you follow a few simple procedures before, during and after running.

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Go from Side Stitch Page to Running Injuries Page

Go from Side Stitch Page to Best Running Tips Homepage

Running Injuries
Running Injury Prevention
Foot Injuries: Foot Pain | Black Toenail | Stress Fractures | Posterior Tibial Tendonitis |
Heel Injuries: Heel Pain | Achilles Tendinitis | Heel Spur / Plantar Fasciitis |
Knee Injuries: Knee Pain | Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITB) |
Leg Injuries: Leg / Calf Cramps | Shin Splints | Hamstring Injury | Hip Pain
Upper Body Injuries: Nipple Chafing | Side Stitch | Back Pain | Chest Pain

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