Defeat the Dreaded Side Stitch!

Defeat the Dreaded Side Stitch!

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Have you ever been out jogging, and all of a sudden you are struck by a sharp pain in your side that stops you in your tracks? The dreaded side stitch strikes many new runners, and can be so discouraging and debilitating that it can lead people to abandon running all together. It’s so common, in fact, that there is even a super science-y name for it: exercise-related transient abdominal pain (ETAP). Like many things related to health, there is great debate among experts on what exactly causes this pain. Dehydration, shallow breathing, and going to fast and hard too soon are all culprits.

The good news is there are several things you can do to prevent the side side and to deal with it once it starts happening:

Make sure you are properly hydrated; even an experienced runner can be stitched if they haven’t had enough water.

Focus on your breathing. You want to try to take as deep and as relaxed breaths as you can manage, even as you become a bit fatigued. Shallow breathing never allows your diaphragm to fully relax, so the muscle is constantly stressed and more likely to spasm. Not only will controlled breaths help prevent ETAP, but deep breathing will make your entire jogging experience easier because your body will get the oxygen it needs to keep you in motion.

If you’ve already been struck:

Slow down. Breathe deeply. Relax. The pain will pass.

Push up on your right side below your ribcage. If you are like most people, you breathe out when your right foot hits the ground (pay attention next time you go for a jog).When you exhale your diaphragm goes up, and at the same time, the force of your foot strike causes your liver to go down. When this happens, the ligaments that connect your diaphragm to your liver are stretched, resulting in the stabbing side pain.

Try a side bend. Arch your right arm over your head and bend to the left. Hold this position for at least 20 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

How do you deal when a side stitch hits?


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