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!
Two things occur to me right off:
Fat old man PRs:
Apologies for my late response, and thank you for the advice!
I was frustrated and so I actually took some time off, and then started again with very low expectations. This allowed me to really slow down, and I varied my breathing more. Thankfully the stitches subsided for a while. I'm battling them again--they started up again recently--only this time they're consistently on the left side. And once again, they're showing up even when I'm not running (just walking around my house, etc.).
I'm doing my best to remain slow, vary my breathing, stay hydrated, and avoid eating for a while before the run. My hope is that as my fitness increases they'll go away again, but it's definitely been frustrating. I'm thinking of looking into digestive enzymes now as well, thinking that perhaps it's an issue with digestion (?).
Anyhow, thank you again, and I continue to welcome any additional advice should anyone have it!
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!
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:
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.