During the midst of your run, you increasingly feel a stingy pain on the side of the lower edge of your ribcage and wonder what exactly is this piercing sensation that is preventing you from pushing on? In most cases, that stabbing, annoying pain is known as a “Side Stitch”.

Causes of side stitch

While some might blame themselves for eating too much before a run or perhaps even the hot weather, the real cause to this pain still remains a mystery till date.

According to an interview with Australian scientist, Darren Morton, his research shows that the stitch afflicts about one in five participants in a typical distance race. Although the pain can be rather intense when one tries to continue running against it, the stitch is not life-threatening and does not result in severe injury or death, according to sports experts.

Image credit: Howcast
Image credit: Howcast

Is there a remedy or treatment?

Side stitches apparently require no medicine for recovery because it often disappears after a period of continued activity. Morton had also found of that side stitches also occur in motorcycle riders and equestrians as well.

Tips to reduce side stitch:

Improve core and stamina

Studies have also shown that beginner runners or people who run on a less frequent basis tend to experience this pain as compared to veterans. As such, one way to reduce these cramps from affecting your performance is to strengthen your core muscles and stamina by doing other forms of core exercises.

Sufficient hydration

Hydrating yourself sufficiently and doing proper stretching before race, can possibly aid in reducing the impact felt by side stitches during a run. In addition, while this does not apply to everyone, there have been feedback from some runners that eating bananas before a race resulted in a side-stitch, while apples did not. This could possibly result from undesirable interactions among the food and liquid contents in our digestive system.

Food intake time before race

Eating way too close to the starting race time might possibly play a part in inducing that pain. Therefore, runners are advised to take note of your meal time before a race. Most runners recommend a 2.5 to 3 hours time gap between your meal time and race starting time. When experiencing side-stiches during the run itself, you can try to take deeper and more frequent breaths to increase your oxygen intake. This process has been known to reduce the pain resulting from the cramp.

Mind over body

Image credit: Pinterest
Image credit: Pinterest

While it is hard to predict when and how the side-stitch interferes runners during a race, it is pretty much a mind-over-body issue because it is an unavoidable problem that many runners face. And yet, this does not stop runners such as Deena Kastor, an Olympic bronze medalist, and a U.S woman marathon record-holder, from emerging victoriously in both national and international competitions.

So the next time you experience side stitch, do not panic and try your best to endure or take a break from your run! It is totally normal and every runner will encounter this at some part of their trainings – Keep calm, and Just Run Lah!