What is a Runners’ Stitch?

Runner’s stitch or also known as a side stitch or by the technical term exercise-related transient abdominal pain is the one condition that almost certainly experience by every runner at some time in either training or competitive circumstances. Runner’s stitch is a painful but entirely transient and correctable physical problem.

In some cases, the pain will also seem to radiate to the runner’s shoulder. Sometimes, the stitch will either slow the runner or immobilize him or her for a brief period while he or she endeavors to recover from the effects of the stitch.

In addition to the causes that have been identified as the potential reasons for a runner’s stitch, cold weather running is often cited as an aggravator of this condition, as is the consumption of food within one hour of a race or workout.


Pain can be relieved by removing or minimizing the applied force, by slowing or stopping the exercise and lying down until the pain subsides. Alternative cures are listed and exist in much the same context as the cure for hiccups; Altering the breathing pattern; short, shallow breaths place a different stress on the diaphragm than do deep regular breaths. Often, a period of slower speed running or walking while taking very pronounced deep breaths will correct a stitch.

 Preventing a Runners Stitch

  • Time your pre-race meal to allow it to digest prior to the event
  • Avoid drinking reconstituted fruit juices and beverages high in carbohydrate  before and during exercise
  • Stretching may relieve the pain of a stitch. Raise your right arm straight up and lean toward the left. Hold for 30 seconds, release, then stretch the other side.
  • Slow down your pace until pain lessens.
  • Massage or press on the area with pain. Bend forward to stretch the diaphragm and ease the pain.

* If you continue to experience pain, see your doctor.

Treating a Runners Stitch

Like any other muscle spasm, when a side stitch occurs it is important to stop the activity that brought the stitch on in the first place, or at the very least reduce the intensity of the activity.

Another effective treatment for a side stitch is to alter your breathing pattern. First concentrate on taking full, deep breathes and avoid shallow breathing. Then, if you are one of those people who exhale when your right foot hits the ground, try instead to exhale when your left foot hits the ground.

  1.  Reduce intensity of Activity
  2.  Deep breathing
  3.  Run on an empty stomach

Running Stitch is common the more you run and become a fitter runner the lesser you will experience it.

Cheers! (:

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