How do you Stop a Side Stitch while Running


You woke up early today, had a quick drink, and headed out the door.  As the morning fog is lifting and the early workers are driving by, you are enjoying your morning run.  Just as you get going good, though, a side stitch starts creeping in.  This stabbing pain can quickly have you doubled over in pain and frantically trying to figure out what to do.  You’re lucky, though, because we can help you understand what the problem is and what you can do about it.

What Is A Side Stitch?

A side stitch is that dreadful pain in your side, just under your ribcage.  It happens while exercising and it is officially known as Exercise Related Transient Abdominal Pain, or ETAP.  There isn’t any serious medical condition associated with it, so don’t worry, but nevertheless it is problematic when you are trying to get your morning started off right.

How On Earth Can You Stop It?

Stopping a side stitch is troublesome, but preventing them in the first place is even more important.  Let’s look at a few ways to prevent side stitches first.

-Always stay hydrated.  Anytime you are exercising you should be drinking plenty of water.  There is no harm in drinking extra, but a long list of side effects associated with not drinking enough.

-Limit the amount of food and drink you take in before your run.  A lot of carbonated beverages can cause your muscles to cramp in this area.

-ALWAYS BE SURE TO WARM UP!  We’ve all seen studies saying that you should either always warm up or never warm up, but if side stitches are a problem you have no excuse.

-Slow down and run for longer periods of time.

-Take full breaths in and out while you run.  Avoid the urge to take short, fast breaths.

Now, if you want to stop a side stitch once it is already here you need to know these solutions like the back of your hand.

-Stretching can help.  Not always, but in many cases.  Reaching up with one arm and stretching to the opposite side, before switching, can help.

-Stop running, or slow to a jog, until the pain has passed.

-Raise both of your hands and inhale as deep as possible.  The goal is to expand your abdomen cavity to maximum capacity.  Exhale completely until you are forced to tighten your abdominal muscles to exhale any farther.  Doing this a few times can alleviate a good deal of the pain.

-Gently (or strenuously if the situation calls for it) massage the pain riddled area.  Bending forward while you do this can help to soothe it even more, but it can also undo any stretching that you have done.

Is There One Answer?

Unfortunately, I can’t give you one answer that will solve the problem for good.  The best thing to do is take note of the preventive measures that I mentioned and try a few of the cures if you still end up with a stabbing pain.  For a lot of runners, this is just something that seems to happen at some point no matter how much they try to prevent it.  In the end, there is a simple solution for you, but it is for you alone.  Take the time to figure out what works best.  It’s worth it.

This article was written for by James S., a guest author