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