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Preventing the Dreaded Runner’s Side Stitch

Imagine this, you’re half way through a neighborhood run you’ve done a dozen times when all of a sudden—a familiar dreaded, dull pain hits you and grows into a sharp stitch along your right side below your ribs.

According to research from the National Institutes of Health, roughly 70-percent of all runners deal with side stitches. The NIH experts call them bouts of ETAP (or exercise-related transient abdominal pain), which is believed to occur due to either irritation of the parietal peritoneum (the abdominal membrane) or a muscle spasm and ischemia (lack of blood flow) in the diaphragm. The good news is the more you run, the less frequently side stitches will occur. Until then, you can stop side stitches in their tracks with these five tips…


1. Don’t Forget to Breathe

New runners who constantly suffer side stitches might be forgetting to breathe, and breathe properly. To prevent stabbing side cramps, Runner’s World recommends concentrating on steady, even breathing and points to inconsistent or constricted breathing as the main reason you’re grasping at your side.

Instead, when you feel that telltale dull pain growing on your left or right abdomen, slow your running pace and steady your steps, then let your breathing slow and match your foot strikes. For example, if you’re side stitch is on the right, exhale each time your left foot hits the ground.


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