Side stitch


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Side stitch
powerful stabbing pain under the lower edge of the ribcage

Side stitch is a powerful stabbing pain under the lower edge of the ribcage that occurs while one is exercising. It is at times referred to as exercise related transient abdominal pain, side ache, side cramp or side sticker.

Others think that abdominal pain may be a result of internal organs pulling downwards on the diaphragm yet this is inconsistent with the frequency of occurrence during swimming as here, it involves almost no downward force on such organs like liver and stomach. If the pain is only present during exercise and not at rest, in an otherwise healthy person, it is benign and does not require investigation.

Side Stitch Causes

The real cause is and has been studied and debated yet there is still no definite answer. Some research has shown that drinking high-sugar beverages before going for exercises increases the likelihood of stitches. Some runners notice they get stitches when they eat too close to their run or they start out their run too quickly. Contrary to common belief, drinking while running does not cause side stitches.

Side Stitch Risk factors

Runners are more vulnerable than walkers; women more apt to get side stitches than men; younger people more than older exercisers; and less trained runners more than well trained ones. The pain also begins to build up evenly during the first, middle, and final part of the race, so warming up or not warming up does not appear to have a consequence. The amount of food eaten prior to exercise may make a person more prone to side stitches. Runners who eat the most during two hours before running event are most likely to experience pain.

Side Stitch Symptoms

It is manifested through a temporary stabbing pain on the lower right side of one’s stomach which subsides almost instantly after exercise stops.

Side Stitch Prevention

To prevent side stitch, drink water or fluids beforehand as dehydration is a general cause of side stitches, start off slow then gradually get faster as you jog or run, Improve fitness, strengthen core muscles such as those in the abdomen and lower back, limit consumption of food and drink, two to three hours before exercising, do proper warm up, run on soft surfaces and gradually increase exercise intensity when running.

Side Stitch Treatment

When an individual feel pain during an exercise, slowly stop the exercise and lie down until the pain subsides. Stretching may also reduce the pain of a stitch. Raise the right arm straight up and lean toward the left, then hold for a few seconds then release, stretch the other side. Slow down the pace until pain reduces. Massage the area with pain. Bend forward to stretch the diaphragm and relieve the pain  lift both hands above the head and breath in fully, expanding abdominal and thoracic cavities, then fully breathe out, tightening the center muscles, to do so until the side stitch ache subsides.

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