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3195 Views 5 Replies Latest reply: Jul 23, 2014 3:38 PM by lenzlaw
shotsjr Rookie 2 posts since
Apr 22, 2008
Currently Being Moderated

May 9, 2014 1:08 PM

Looking for advice on terrible side stitches

Hi there--I'm an on-again-off-again runner, hoping to get back into the habit and stay there. I'm currently doing Hal Higdon's beginner 10k training, and normally run anywhere from 2-4 miles 3x/week. A few weeks ago I started getting hit with terrible side stitches during my runs. It would come on within the first mile of the run, and was the classic sharp pain on my right side just at the bottom of my rib cage. I tried slowing down, stopping, massaging that side, sticking my fingers into the spot that hurt and forcefully blowing air out, etc., but as soon as I'd start trying to run again it would come back just as strong as when I'd stopped. Worse, even after my run I'd feel it creeping in when I was just walking around the house or climbing my stairs. After doing some reading I thought I'd found a combination of tricks that worked: I ate lots of bananas (potassium!); drank plenty of water; didn't eat or drink within an hour or more of running; focused on my breathing and always exhaled on my left footfall; made very slight changes to how I was carrying myself (which direction I was leaning while running). It appears as though my tricks don't work anymore, since my last 2 runs were plagued by stitches again. Just as before, they don't go away when I stop or slow down, and when tried to run through my last one it actually spread to a tight sharp pain across my entire abdomen. Any advice or things I'm not thinking of? Thanks so much in advance!

  • shipo Legend 499 posts since
    Aug 9, 2013
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. May 9, 2014 5:25 PM (in response to shotsjr)
    Looking for advice on terrible side stitches

    Two things occur to me right off:

    1. Start your workouts slow, slow as in make your first mile barely faster than a fast walk.
    2. Vary your breathing; rigid breathing regimens (i.e. "...always exhaled on my left footfall...") have been known to cause and/or exacerbate side stitches.

    Fat old man PRs:

    • 1-mile (point to point, gravity assist): 5:50
    • 2-mile: 13:49
    • 5K (gravity assist last mile): 21:31
    • 5-Mile: 37:24
    • 10K (first 10K of my Half Marathon): 48:16
    • 10-Mile (first 10 miles of my Half Marathon): 1:17:40
    • Half Marathon: 1:42:13
  • Mattgalvin11 Rookie 3 posts since
    Jul 15, 2014
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Jul 16, 2014 11:48 AM (in response to shotsjr)
    Looking for advice on terrible side stitches

    It sounds simple but always works for me. If I ever get a side sitch I stop and press down and hold with both hands on that area for 30 seconds to a minute and the sitch generally goes away!

  • db_woodall Amateur 16 posts since
    Mar 15, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. Jul 23, 2014 6:57 AM (in response to shotsjr)
    Looking for advice on terrible side stitches



    I've read that side stitches are usually caused by breathing too quickly and/or too shallow.  Breathing has been a hot topic recently in Runner's World, even to the point of discussing rhythmic breathing to avoid injury.  Here are some good links:




  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,539 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. Jul 23, 2014 3:38 PM (in response to db_woodall)
    Looking for advice on terrible side stitches

    Belly-breathing?  That's what worked for me.  Though I must admit I never had a big problem with stitches.  The biggest problem in my mind is once you get one during a run, you don't really get rid of it, even with slowing and all the other tricks.  The real trick is not to get them in the first place (same with shin splints).  Running slower from the get-go often works, and as I said "belly-breathing" worked for me.  Basically, I think, it's a matter of conditioning.  If you're running too fast for your level of conditioning, you will be prone to both side-stitches and shin splints.


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