A Running Stitch

Stan 14/05/2012 0
A Running Stitch

Good afternoon folks,

I tweeted the other week that I’d recently ran and suffered a side stitch. In fact, I’ve ran a handful of times lately and I suffered stitches in most of them! I’ve had this post in draft format for a few weeks now so here it is.

I’ve never suffered with them before so I wasn’t sure why I was getting them all of a sudden. They’ve all been in the same place, on the right hand side under my ribs. The pain was unbelievable, it stopped me in my tracks as every time I breathed it was so painful. I’ve lost a few minutes on these runs because of the stitch, but my times are still respectable. I thought initially that it was because I got out of the blocks too quickly so I took it easy the following week but I got the same result. I then started looking at my breakfast as it’s common sense to not eat too near performing exercise. The run is at 9, so I was having one slice of toast at around 7:30. I thought this was loads of time to allow the food to digest and it was only a slice. I’d been doing this for numerous weeks prior so I didn’t think it could be that.

Since having a running stitch, I’ve done a bit of research online and it seems no-one knows the exact cause of a stitch. The majority of the researchers believe that it has a lot to do with what we eat before we exercise so I decided to leave breakfast out completely on my next run. This worked, although I did reduced my pace by quite a bit too. I didn’t really want to run on empty but I had my breakfast as soon as I got back in.

I did find another explanation online which was put forth by some researchers.They said a side stitch is caused by stretching the ligaments that extend from the diaphragm to the internal organs. I always warm-up correctly before any exercise so I don’t think this was the case for me.

How to get rid of a stitch in your side
If you do find you get a running stitch in your side, here are some pointers to relieve the pain:

  • Stop running
  • Place your hand on your belly and press hard
  • As you run again, take deep even breaths

How to prevent a running stitch
If you do find you’re getting a running stitch like me, here’s my advise taking into account my story so far:

  • Time your pre-race meal to allow it to digest properly
  • Avoid drinking fruit juices and beverages high in carbohydrate before and during exercise
  • Stretching may prevent and relieve the pain of a running stitch
  • Slow down your pace until pain lessens
  • Massage or press on the area with pain

If you’ve tried the above and you continue to experience pain, please see your doctor. It may be something more serious than a running stitch so get it checked out.

My most recent run was on Saturday morning and I got a PB by over a minute. Again I had no breakfast and again, no stitch. Although I did feel something halfway through my run so I pulled back a bit and it passed. I have a 10k to run in the morning, a 5k to run on Saturday morning and a 12k to run on Sunday morning. I’ll be having no breakfast before either and my pace will be normal. Let’s watch this space.

It may be a pain in my side but it’s a pain in the neck!

Stay fit and healthy folks,

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