The Side Stitch

Not easy to see, impossible to anticipate, the stitch is still the fellow of many runners.

It’s usually located along the ribs, most often on the left flank. However, it’s possible to have a stitch along the acromion. Be careful! You mustn’t confuse the different zones. Indeed, a stitch is located on the left side (the breath) whereas a pain on the right side is a liver one.

But where does it come from?


Origins of the stitch


Side stitch - woman runner side cramps. Marathon.


Despite advanced studies, the causes that encourage the emergence of the pain are still unknown. The diaphragm muscle cramps, due to an oxygenation default throughout a physical effort, (if you chat with your pal while running for example) have been held responsible for a long time. But recent studies have shown that there weren’t any growth of spams along the diaphragm when a runner suffer from a stitch.






A new theory states that a bad posture could result in a stitch. Indeed, an excessive camber of the spine could spearhead breathing issues, which can lend to its emergence (we did tell you to stand straight…). However, this information has to be taken for what it’s worth: it’s still an assumption!


It is also possible that its emergence could be due to massive blood surge along the spleen and the liver, leading to a breathing mechanism disorder.


So basically, its origin isn’t very clear. But we do know a few things for sure:


  • Nutrition can be an influencing factor of the emergence of a side stitch. Indeed, a diet that is rich in fat and fibre can encourage their development. To be safe, you should follow the 3 hours rule: it’s the time you should after a meal, before making an effort (as in, running or working out -don’t make it an excuse to be lazy ;)). That will ensure a good digestion and avoid these types of pains.


  • The warm up has to be done It is advisable to start with a fast walk before gently increasing your speed to reach the desired pace. This is especially important during cold weather and for beginners. Your warm up should last for about 10 minutes in order to avoid having a stitch.



So, how can you avoid them?


stitch point

There are several methods you can use to get rid of this inconvenience:


  • Breath in and out through the mouth: the breathing must be coming from the stomach, not the chest. Get that belly out!


  • Try to avoid jerky inhale and exhale breathing! Have a regular breathing, whatever the speed or the intensity of the effort are.


  • If the stitch is still here, stop running for 5 minutes and walk instead; the stitch will eventually disappear and you’ll be able to run again slowly.


  • Otherwise, stop running and exhale all the way out in order to void all the air from your lungs. Your side stitch should be gone. If the pain persists, you should consult your doctor as it may be due to a heart issue.


This article is now finished! I hope you enjoyed it and have learned a few things to avoid this bad boy!


What are your techniques to get rid of your stitch? Make sure to share your tips 😉


See you soon, you running maniacs!


Source: our amazing biomechanics team.

3 thoughts on “The Side Stitch”

  1. Your style is so unique compared to other people I’ve read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I’ll just book mark this blog.

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