Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Side Stitches

Have you ever had a near unbearable pain in your side while running? What do you call it? Side pain? Side stitch?
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No matter what you call it, side stitches hurt--I'm not talking about getting sewn up after a kidney transplant. A side stitch is an acute pain, which until recently has been mostly unexplained.

I, like many others, used to think it was caused by a spasm in the diaphragm muscles. It turns out that's not the case. Instead, it's believed to be caused by a tightening in the parietal peritoneum--a membrane that wraps around the body like a corset, connecting back muscles to the abdomen. Read more about it in, "Solving the Mystery of Side Stitches in Runners" from

During my training for the Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon in 2010, I began to suffer from side stitches on nearly every run. Nothing I tried seemed to helped, but "Solving the Mystery of Side Stitches in Runners" gives some practical advice for avoided and dealing with side stitches. The following information definitely would have helped me out in 2010:
  • Eating and drinking a large amount within two hours of running correlates to side pain
  • Deep breathing when a side stitch hits has shown some success
  • Stretching the affected side or grabbing the affected side helps some runners
What will help for you? I have no idea. Now when I run, I occasionally stop to stretch my chest and back--mostly because of neck and back pain. I also haven't had a side stitch in about a year. Is the stretching and lack of side stitches related? Again, I have no idea.

If you suffer from side stitches and one of the above tips work for you, awesome. If not, keep trying. You are an experiment of one.

Run well.

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