Side Stitches

Fall is here and the weather is perfect for lacing up the shoes and hitting the pavement. A lot of people suffer from side stitches or pain in the lower right or left abdomen similar to cramps while running. Although no one seems to know for sure, one cause of this may be consuming too much carbohydrates before you go out for a run. Another theory is that it is caused by the stretching of the ligaments that connect the diaphragm to other internal organs, especially the liver. As the organs bounce around, they strain the diaphragm as it moves up while exhaling. Additionally many runners synchronize their breathing with their steps, so exhalation occurs when the same foot hits the ground on the same side continuously causing a side stitch on that side.

There are a few ways to try to avoid developing a side stitch. The first one is obviously to not eat a large meal before going out for a run. Another is to avoid shallow chest breaths and take more deep "belly breaths" causing the diaphragm to fully lower. Finally, periodically change which foot strikes the ground during exhalation.

Although no one really seems to know what exactly causes side stitches, try these techniques and see if they help for you. Happy running!


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