Are Side Stitches Putting Your Workout to a Halt?

Imagine this. You’re just trying to get a nice run in after a long day at work. The sun is out and there’s a nice breeze to keep you cool. Then, suddenly, you feel a slight pain beginning to form in your side. You think it’s just a cramp, so you keep running in hopes it will go away on its own. Minutes later, the pain gets worse. Then, your breathing shortens and you’re brought to a screeching halt, gasping for air. You’ve got a side stitch and that nice run doesn’t seem so nice anymore.

Side stitches are the last thing you want to worry about while you’re on a run. They’re painful and annoying. However, lucky for us, there are some ways to prevent the problem. Runner’s World explains “Four Ways to Stop the Dreaded Side Stitch” including a strategy for stopping the stitch in its tracks!

First, eat mindfully before you run. Side stitches can result from any number of reasons and one of them is what you eat, and when you eat, before you run. “Foods that are higher in fat and fiber take longer to digest.” This is not to say these are bad foods, however, if you eat them within 1-2 hours of a run they can really mess you up. So, try new foods, eat light, and give yourself plenty of time to digest!

If that doesn’t work, try to focus on a solid warm up before you run. “Going from sitting to running speed may save you time on the watch, but it can create irregular, rapid-fire breathing patterns, and a side stitch.” So, try and take 2-3 minutes to stretch and get your heart rate up. This will help you feel better throughout the run and ultimately decrease the likelihood of a side stitch.

Lastly, it is very important to regulate your breathing. “Use efficient breathing patterns that are in sync with your body.” Get into a rhythm and really listen to your body. Efficient breathing patterns won’t only prevent your side stitches but it will also improve your oxygen transport throughout the body.

And, if all this doesn’t work and you still get a stitch, try slowing down and exhaling to release the stitch. “Slow your pace and exhale as the foot on the opposite side of the stitch strikes the ground.” Apparently, through some sort of biology, it works! Get back to your workout and stop worrying about the dreaded side stitch. 

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