How to Prevent / Stop Side Stitches

Nick Davies

A great run can quickly turn for the worse once you feel pain shoot up your side bringing you to a halt. Side stitches can ruin any run but how do we stop them from doing so, or even better how do we prevent them? Lucky for you we have some great tips to help keep you moving so you can keep chasing that new PR.

What causes a side stitch?

There are a few different theories on what causes side stitches ranging from poor blood supply in the diaphragm resulting in cramps, to irritation of the peritoneum, the serum lining in the abdominal cavity. Shock to your internal organs and nervousness have also been correlated to side stitches. Whatever the cause is we think it is best to just avoid the stitches all together and run pain free. Here are a few ways to help you avoid those pesky stitches.

Watch What You Eat

You will want to avoid foods that are higher in fat and fiber as they will take longer to digest. Eating these types of foods before a run can wreak havoc, upsetting your stomach, potentially giving you stitches, and ruining your run. Stick to lightweight meals that are low in fiber and fat.

RUSEEN Reflective Apparel - Side Stitch Prevention - Eating Healthy

Another good practice to keep in mind is to eat 2 - 3 hours before you go for your run so that everything is already digesting through. If needed a small snack beforehand is fine but keep it light.

Warm Up Properly

A warm up is key to preparing your body for the workout to come. Going from sitting to running can create irregular, rapid fire breathing patterns. Invest in a few minutes of brisk walking to gradually work your body into a running pace. This will help warm up the body and lungs preparing them to work harder.

RUSEEN Reflective Apparel - Side Stitch Prevention - Proper Warm-Up / Stretching

Control Your Breathing

Once your lungs are warmed up and you are moving along pay attention to your breathing. Proper breathing can contribute to relaxation of the diaphragm and respiratory muscles. Follow the rhythm of your run and breath in two steps, breath out the third. Taking a deep breath from the abdomen can be especially helpful in relieving a side stitch.

Strengthen Your Abdominals

A great way to prevent getting a side stitch is by strengthening your core. A well trained core reduces rotational movements in the trunk of the body. The internal organs are actively supported and you are less prone to cramps.

RUSEEN Reflective Apparel - Side Stitch Prevention - Core Strengthening

Prevention is a No-Go - Relieve the Pain

If you still end up with a side stitch there are always ways to try and relieve the pain so you can keep moving. Here are a few ways to get rid of your side stitch.

  1. If a stitch starts coming on slow down to a jog or walk and focus on your breathing. If the pain still persists try taking a moment to stop and stretch out your side. Just lean your upper body to the side and stretch a little further with each exhalation.
  2. Try putting your arms above your head while inhaling & then lean your upper body forward while exhaling and just let your arms dangle.
  3. On the side that is in pain put your arm out above your head and stretch out that side, then take a deep breath and stomp your leg on the opposite side of your body. (Sounds odd but my coworker swears this works! 😂)

Hope these tips help keep you on the move, cheers!

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