Stitch When Running – What Can You Do About It?
If you have ever felt stitch when running, you are not the only one. More than 80% of runners experience stitch each year.
For most runners, mild stitch disappears relatively quickly and usually doesn’t affect running too much. However, if you have ever experienced a more serious stitch you will understand how painful it can be. This type of stitch is called transient abdominal pain (ETAP), and mostly affects runners on one side of the abdomen. IT usually consists of sharp pain and cramping that typically brings a runner to a halt.
No matter how strong the stitch is, you may be wondering why you get stitch when you are running and how to prevent it.
In this article, we discuss side stitch when running and what causes it. As well as how to prevent it from happening again. So continue reading to find out more.
What is Side Stitch?
A side stitch is a sharp pain that is usually localized to the side of the abdomen. It is generally felt by those participating in running, cycling, or swimming. However, it can sometimes affect people in team sports like football, basketball, and hockey.
The pain and discomfort often affect performance and can sometimes take some time to disappear. T
The cause of stitch is still somewhat unknown. However, what we do know is that it can be caused by the movement of blood to the diaphragm and muscles. It can also be caused by food that has not yet been digested 100%.
The feeling most people experience when having stitch is:
– Pain in the side of the abdominal muscles
– A cramping sensation
– Sharp pain that is localized
Depending on how bad it is, it may make you stop completely when running or slow down your speed for a short amount of time.
Either way, if you experience stitch for the first time running it is going to be a painful experience that will probably send you to a halt. However, don’t be scared as it will usually pass within a few minutes.
How to Get Rid of Stitch When Running?
Luckily if you get stitch on a run there are a few ways to help beat the pain and discomfort. So, how do you get rid of stitch when running? Well for most people the first way to stop it is to slow down. However, this doesn’t mean stopping. By continuing to move (slowly) you can keep the blood flowing and help relieve pressure from the side of the abdominal muscles.
Another way is to move to belly breathing. By belly breathing, you are moving to diaphragmatic breathing which can help relax the abdominals, thus reducing the pain from stitch.
Last but not least is to stretch. Slowing down and stretching can help reduce pain and relieve discomfort. You can do this by pretending to pick up grass as you run. Alternatively, if that doesn’t help you can stop and stretch the side of your abdominals.
How to Avoid Stitch When Running?
If you know already about stitch you probably know how to avoid stitch when running. But for those who don’t, there are some key ways to avoid stitch altogether.
One of the most common preventions is to increase the time between eating and running. That means giving the body at least 90 minutes to digest food before going out running. This will provide ample time for the body to process the food you just ate. However, if you still experience stitch from eating food before your run, try to reduce the amount of fat or fiber in the meal.
Another way to prevent stitch when running is to practice belly breathing before your run. Doing so will help relax your diaphragm and abdominal muscles. Making them more relaxed and supple before heading out for a run. It will also help to improve your breathing while running, which can also benefit your performance by lowering your heart rate and making you more efficient.
What Causes a Stitch When Not Exercising?
If you are unfortunate, you may have experienced the same side pain when not exercising. While this may sound strange, it is more common than not. So, what causes a stitch when not exercising?
Stitch and side stitch when not exercising is caused by abdominal cramps. This is usually then caused by poor posture, dehydration, or overexertion. For many runners, it is not uncommon to feel stitch after a run. However, if it lasts for more than 1 hour it is recommended you seek medical advice, as it can also be a more serious matter.
Just like before and during a run, there are a few ways to get rid of side stitch. Belly breathing, abdominal massage, and a hot shower are all ways to help relax the stomach muscles. Which in turn will help relieve any pain felt in the side of the abdominals.
Alternatively, if this is something that is happening regularly, it is recommended that you spend some time strengthening your core muscles. By doing so, there is a less likely chance that the stitch will be caused by overexertion.