Avoid stitch pain during a running session

two runners in the street


What runner has never been victim of the famous side stitch. This pain, which usually appears in the upper abdomen, is the pain of all runners during exercise. The side stitch is often harmless, but it is often very painful and prevents further running.

By definition, the side point corresponds to a cramp in the diaphragm, a muscle that is very stressed by the breathing process. The side stitch often appears in people who are not very athletic, but the most expert runners are very often victims of it, too.

Muscular, respiratory, digestion, vascularization, the origins of the side stitch are diverse. Many risk factors must be taken into account before training like lack of preparation, a warm-up that is too short, and starting too fast. In order to avoid this inconvenience, we have some advice.

1. Manage your warm-up well

A good warm-up session is essential to fight against the appearance of a side stitch. This helps to prepare your muscles for exercise and thus promotes good breathing. Warming up allows the body to gradually trigger certain mechanisms to prepare the body for exercise, such as increasing body temperature, increasing the volume of oxygen, also called VO2, or activating muscle and neuromuscular activity. Thanks to a good warm-up session your body gets used to the effort and the risk of a side stitch appearing due to a too starting too quickly.

2. Manage your effort at the start of the session

Starting a session gradually is the best way to avoid suffering from side points a few minutes after the start. This way, the blood flow will be properly regulated during the first few minutes of the race.  The management of effort during a sport session can be learned over time and helps to improve endurance and therefore performance.


3. Breathe well

Breathing plays a major role in effort management and helps to block the appearance of side points during exercise. The side stitch may be the result of a poor breathing rhythm. A good way to manage your breathing is to listen and focus on your breathing. The right rhythm is a long inhalation followed by a deep exhalation, without exaggeration. The breathing rate must adapt to the rhythm of the activity and gradually increase.


4. Maintain a good running position

The stroke position is an important parameter that influences the stroke rate. A good position promotes good breathing and therefore an optimal running rhythm. Keeping your eyes forward, your chest straight and your arms at your hips are the key points to follow to adopt a good position.


5. Eat well and wait until digestion finishes 

Diet is a point not to be neglected during a sports session. Indeed, it is preferable to avoid any sports sessions during the digestion phase. Therefore, the last meal must be at least three hours ago. If you want to refuel during the race, be sure to drink in small sips and do not eat too much too quickly. The opposite could lead to the appearance of side stitches.



two runners on the beach


Finally, here are some tips on how to get rid of a side stitch along the way.

If the pain is bearable, slow down your pace while compressing the pain point until it disappears completely.  Once the pain has disappeared, continue running and concentrate on your breathing in order to regain a regular rhythm.

If the pain is too much, don’t hesitate to slow down considerably or even stop your run. If you are forced to stop running, don’t neglect the stretching session.

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