In Stitches - How to Prevent Side Stitches

Side stitches are nothing to laugh about. What are they, and how to ease them?

What are Side Stitches?

The painful cramps most often hit runners on the right side of the body, just under the ribcage.

While no one’s certain of why the body spasms this way, the most likely theory is that the cramps are caused by stress to the ligaments that attach the liver, stomach and spleen to the diaphragm. As you run, your internal organs get jostled around, then, as you breath heavily and use your diaphragm, the attached ligaments get pulled in two different directions.

How to Prevent Side Stitches

  1. Don’t start your run off too fast. Get up to speed incrementally.
  2. Refrain from heavy meals or drinking a lot of water within 2-4 hours of your run.
  3. Strengthen your core.

Ease the Pain

  • Press your left hand into the pain as you raise your right arm. This should ease the pressure on your diaphragm.
  • Change to deep belly breathing that engages your stomach rather than your ribs.
  • Change your breathing rhythm to exhale when your left foot hits the ground.
  • Lie down with your hips elevated.

This article originally appeared on USAF FitFamily©, a publication of the U.S. Air Force. Republished with permission.

USAF FitFamily©

USAF FitFamily© is a web based goal incentive program. Families have the opportunity to set goals and monitor their progress. The FitFamily website provides resources, ideas and goal setting tools to help Air Force Families be active, make healthy nutrition choices and have fun in an effort to promote overall wellness. FitFamily is open to all active duty, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard, DoD and civilian families.