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by Idalis Velazquez
updated October 9, 2020
posted in

How To Prevent a Side Stitch

You lace up, went outside for your run and a few minutes in you feel a sharp, stabbing pain that hits below the ribs. You know that annoying pain that makes us slow down and even can stop us at times. A side stitch can be cause by improper breathing, posture problems, starting off too quickly, weak abdominal muscles, a full stomach, or the wrong running style can provoke a side stitch.

Here are some tips that can be beneficial on helping you prevent them as you conquer 30 Day Breakaway.

1. Focus on Your Breathing

If breathing is too shallow, it doesn’t provide adequate oxygen to working muscles, including the diaphragm. Inhaling and exhaling fully and deeply can help reduce the occurrence of side stitches. Try  inhaling for two steps as exhale for one step to increase  the depth of breath.

2. Eat Wisely

What and when you eat before a run may contribute to side stitches. If your body is still digesting food, there will be less blood flowing to the diaphragm, which can induce spasms. Foods that are high in fat and fiber take longer to digest, and so should be avoided one to two hours before you run. Also avoid beverages that are high in sugar. You can keep a log of the foods and drinks you consume prerun and when you experience a stitch so you can recognize triggers.

3. Strengthen Your Core

As you strengthen your core these can also disappear since it reduces rotational movements in the trunk of the body. I often cue you guys during the run to avoid rotating your torso. But for those with a weaker core it can be more challenging to do. That's why we train our core effectively during 30 Day Breakaway. This way your internal organs are actively supported and you are less prone to cramps. 

How to Handle Side Stitches Mid-run

1. Slow Down

If a side stitch strikes, slow  your pace or take a walking break until it starts to feel better. Sometimes it even helps to put your hand over the area that’s painful and do some resisted exhaling—take a deep breath in, press hard with your hand over the stitch, and blow out the breath through pursed lips, and repeat this pattern a few times.

2. Adjust Your Breathing

If there’s no chance you can stop or slow (say, during a race), pay attention to your breathing pattern, making sure your breaths are uneven. 

Idalis Velazquez
Idalis is a wife, proud mom of three girls and an internationally recognized and trusted fitness & lifestyle expert. She is a Beachbody Super Trainer, a bilingual Fitness Influencer and Fitness and Wellness content creator for publications like Women’s Health Magazine, Men’s Health, GQ Magazine and others. She is also a Nordictrack and an iFit International trainer.

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