The dreaded stitch is what most runners or anyone looking to do cardio dreads happening. You have finally managed to motivate yourself into doing either the run or swim and then that sharp pain in your side kicks in. But what is a stitch? What causes it? How do I get rid of it? These are all the three questions that I am going to be answering to help you have a clear mind for if this does happen to you.
What Is A Stitch?
During exercise, our blood is needed to pump oxygen around the body. Blood is moved away from the diaphragm and to the limbs that are being used. The diaphragm is the muscle that separates the stomach and abdomen from the heart and the lungs. Therefore the throbbing pain in each person’s side is considered to be the reduction in blood supply to the diaphragm.
How To Avoid A Stitch
✓ Make sure that you are well hydrated and are drinking plenty of water during and before a workout. In the two hours after a workout ensure that you are only drinking little amount so that you stay hydrated but you don’t become bloated.
✓ Don’t eat large volumes of food at least two hours before exercise. Also choosing a high carbohydrate, low fat with moderate protein is an excellent option for a pre-running meal.
✓ Avoid very sugary drinks, before or during your exercise. Sugary food like sweets. When consuming sugary drinks the amount of fluid between the two layers of the stomach reduces. The sugary drinks draw out the fluid from these spaces triggering the pain. Sports drinks, which contain around 6% sugars (usually 11% in fruit juice) don’t have this effect – in fact, have the same effect as water.
✓ Invest in a solid warm up. If you are going to go from standing to running speed then this may save you time in your start but it will increase the risk of a stitch. Try to spend two to three minutes having a brisk walk and gradually getting yourself prepared for your running pace.
✓ Regulate your breathing – by trying to match your breathing with you strides this is going to enable you to have a good rhythm of breathing. Not only does this improve your breathing efficiency but it will improve the efficiency of your oxygen transport.
How To Get Rid Of A Stitch
✓ Please do not panic! It is only a temporary cramp that will eventually go away
✓ Focus on maintaining relaxed and take deep breaths to health with the oxygen and blood circulation
✓ Slow the pace a little and push your hand on the area that hurts to try and stretch the affected area
✓ Stay calm and the pain will eventually subside