How to relieve a side stitch when running

Are side stitches cramping your running style? They were for me last week when I began training for the half-marathon. But after a little research I learned that you can actually overcome them with a few basic tricks.

Medically speaking, a side stitch is a spasm or cramp of the diaphragm muscle. There are many reasons a side stitch can occur including dehydration, bad running form or just general fatigue. For me I think it could be dehydration but according to many of the blogs and message boards I’ve read, side stitches tend to occur early on in a runner’s career. I’ve only been really running since March so that could also be the reason.

Whatever the cause, there are easy cures for side stitches. The For Beginners Only blog on the website for Runner’s World suggests massaging the area in pain. As always with a side stitch, you should stop running first, then:

“… press your first two fingers in and slightly upward directly where it hurts and hold for about 10 seconds. While pressing in and up, take more deep breaths. You can continue this process of pressing in and up, all around the edge of your ribs up to your sternum.”

Another technique I used last week that worked was to slow my pace, or come to a walking pace, and stretch my right arm over my head to stretch out the right side of my abdomen. If the stitch is on your left side, use your left arm. This worked well and helped relieve the pain so I could continue running.

The best news about side stitches is that with continued exercise and running, they should go away altogether. So, stay hydrated, stretch before a run and hit the pavement!

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