While running, we sometimes get stitch/ cramps on one of the sides of stomach or lower side of the rib cage, especially on the left side. It is a really annoying pain which slows us down considerably or worse, force us to stop the physical activity. However, it is a very small problem as it goes away once we slow down or stop running completely. But it is very annoying!
Causes of side stitch
The accurate cause of a side stitch while running is still not clear. A side stitch is a sharp pain in the abdomen, usually to a side, just below the ribs.
1. As per NCBI research on side stitch on 10 runners, where they were made to undergo 5 minutes bouts of hard running with drinking 4 different kinds of liquid. They concluded that a possible cause of side stitch may be liquid filled gut which tugs at the visceral ligaments.
2. Another research by Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport states that a possible reason for side stitch may be spinal misalignment in the thoraic region. How crazy does it sound!
It is also seen that the problem of side stitch strikes a novice runner more than an experienced one. And eating a heavy meal or a fatty meal just before running have resulted in side stitch.
How to remove side stitch?
Follow any one or combination of the methods and see which one works for you :-
1. Forcefully breath out through nose using abdominal muscles i.e force the diaphragm down, as in Kapalbhati. This technique works for me.
2. Close the fist of both the hands, keeping the thumb in between. No scientific reason for this though. It has helped me a few times.
3. Slow down a bit and gently rub the area of stitch with fingers.
4. Try and change the breathing pattern. For eg. if you are breathing out on every left foot forward, then try to change it to right foot forward.
5. Try to maintain a good running posture and avoid hunching while running. IT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT.
6. Wear a scarf or a neck warmer during winters as breathing cold air may also induce side stitch. Again, there is no solid reasoning behind this.
7. Slow down and take deep controlled breaths.
8. Warm-up properly. Take time to warm up properly. Not only will it prevent injuries, it will also help avoid the side stitch.
9. Eat atleast an hour or two prior to running to give time for digestion. It is all, though, personal. One may eat just before running and not have a side stitch and one may eat 2 hours before and still have a side stitch. So, idea is to experiment and have small meals.
10. Be consistent with training. Mike ‘The Fruitarian’ Arnstien in one of his lectures at Woodstock Festival said that he never suffers from a side stitch. It may be because he is a consistent runner.
11. Tightening a waist belt or waist pack tightly around the abdomen may help sometimes.
Try these methods next time and see for yourself as to which one works for you. As a long term measure, try to be regular with running and strengthen the core muscles to avoid this irritating hindrance.
Till then stay fit and keep running.
Do you suffer this problem?
What do you do to alleviate this problem?