What Causes the Dreaded Side Stitch When You Are Running?

What Causes the Dreaded Side Stitch When You Are Running?

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Everyone hates it when that horrible twinge strikes. Delve into what causes stitches, how to relieve them, and how to avoid them while running.

Running causes internal pressure

No one is entirely sure what exactly causes side stitches when we run. There are a few specialists, who understand the physics of the body while running, who suggest that it is in fact the pressure from the legs on the diaphragm from below, and the pressure from rapid breathing from above, that results in blood and oxygen being cut off from the muscle.

Others suggest that stitches are caused by the ligaments attached to your internal organs, to keep them in place, being jostled and tugged. Either way, the pain is a nasty surprise – but it should not be something that spoils your love of running.

Two ways to stop the stitch in its tracks

Tone down your pace

Stitches often happen when we push ourselves too hard – especially in new runners. If you get a stitch while you are running slow your pace a bit and see if that helps. Stopping and stretching for a while may relieve a bit of the pain too.

Change your breathing

Symmetrical breathing might be the cog in the works. Because symmetrical breathing relies on your footfall counting how long to inhale or exhale, inhaling on the same foot every cycle can cause tension on that side and result in a stitch. If you get a stitch while you are running, change your breathing pattern to follow a 2:3 or 3:2 cycle instead. Breathe in for two steps, and out for three, or visa versa.

Preventing side stitches during running

Check your glucose intake

Energy drinks might be the reason for your side stitches. You can prevent the likelihood of getting stitches when you are running by keeping track of how much glucose you take in normally. If you get a stitch when you have changed the brand of energy supplement, or how much you are using, that might be the cause. Switch back to a brand that works for you, or dilute your energy drinks.

Plank the pain away

Add more planking to your warm-up routine if you are prone to stitches. Planking strengthens the muscles in your sides so that any strain put on them during running is dealt with better.