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What to Do When You Get a Side Stitch While Running

Author: L Posted on: 06/02/2024

We've all been there – you're in the middle of a great run, feeling the wind in your hair and the ground beneath your feet, when suddenly, a sharp pain hits your side. Side stitches, also known as side cramps or side aches, are a common issue for runners. But what causes them, and more importantly, how can you get rid of them quickly? Let's dive into it.

A side stitch is a sharp pain, usually felt just below the ribs. It can occur on either side of the body and is often accompanied by a cramp-like sensation. The exact cause isn't entirely understood, but it's believed to be related to the diaphragm, the muscle that helps with breathing. When you run, especially if you're breathing rapidly or shallowly, your diaphragm can experience a spasm, leading to that familiar stabbing pain.

Immediate Actions to Relieve a Side Stitch

  1. Slow Down or Stop: If you feel a side stitch coming on, the first thing to do is reduce your pace. Slow down to a walk or stop completely if needed. This helps reduce the stress on your diaphragm.

  2. Deep Breathing: Focus on deep, belly breathing. Inhale deeply through your nose, filling your lungs fully, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. This can help relax your diaphragm and alleviate the pain.

  3. Stretch the Affected Area: Raise your arm on the side where you feel the stitch and lean away from it. This stretches the muscles in your side and can help relieve the cramp.

  4. Apply Pressure: Some runners find relief by gently pressing their fingers into the area where they feel the stitch. Apply steady pressure while continuing to breathe deeply.

  5. Adjust Your Breathing Pattern: Try to synchronize your breathing with your steps. For example, inhale for three steps and exhale for two. This can create a more rhythmic breathing pattern that might reduce diaphragm stress.

Preventing Side Stitches

  1. Warm-Up Properly: Before you start running, ensure you warm up adequately. This prepares your muscles, including your diaphragm, for the increased activity.

  2. Monitor Your Diet: Avoid eating large meals or drinking too much fluid right before running. Give your body time to digest before you hit the road.

  3. Strengthen Your Core: A strong core can help support your diaphragm and reduce the likelihood of side stitches. Incorporate core-strengthening exercises like planks, sit-ups, and leg raises into your routine.

  4. Practice Deep Breathing: Regularly practicing deep breathing exercises can train your diaphragm to handle the demands of running more effectively.

Using Runtopia to Enhance Your Training

If you're serious about improving your running and avoiding side stitches, consider using an app like Runtopia. Runtopia offers features that can help track your runs, monitor your progress, and provide you with personalized training plans. By keeping a detailed log of your runs and any side stitch occurrences, you can identify patterns and adjust your training accordingly. The app also provides breathing exercises and core-strengthening workouts, which are essential for preventing side stitches.

Side stitches are an annoying but common part of running. By understanding what causes them and taking immediate action, you can reduce their impact and continue enjoying your runs. Remember to incorporate preventive measures into your routine and use tools like Runtopia to optimize your training. Happy running!

What to Do When You Get a Side Stitch While Running

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