About 60% of active people know what a side stitch is. It’s an exercise-stopping, stabbing pain in the abdomen that can bring you to a standstill. Because getting a side stitch is unpredictable—that is, one day you might get one, and the next day you don’t—they are hard to research.
While we aren’t 100% sure what causes a side stitch, the popular theory is exercise creates stress on the ligaments that connect the abdominal organs to the diaphragm. That’s why wearing a tight belt might help the problem; it supports the organs from getting jostled. Eating lots of food or drinking lots of water might contribute to a side stitch, but each athlete’s body responds differently to food and exercise.
If you are plagued by side stitches, you might want to record your food and beverage intake. Perhaps you can detect triggers such as too much pre-exercise water or too large a pre-exercise meal. Then, with repeated efforts, you can hopefully determine a comfortable dose of pre-exercise fuel for your body.
What should you do once you get a side stitch? Many athletes bend forward, stretch the affected side, breathe deeply from the belly, push on the affected area, tighten the abdominal muscles, and/or change from “shallow” to “deep” breathing. (Pretend you are blowing out candles while exhaling with pursed lips.)
Have you found a solution that diffuses side stitches in your body? I’d love to hear your tips!
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