I wasn’t sure what I was going to blog about today when, suddenly, it hit me: the dreaded side stitch.
I cannot tell you the last time I’ve had a stitch in my side while running. So what gives?
Well, I read up and realized it can be any number of things. In my case, I think it’s a combo of all of the above, well, all of the below. See what you think:
- Be mindful of what you eat before your run. Foods high in fat or fiber can cause the side stitch nuisance, as they are tough to digest. Keep tabs on what you’re taking in a couple of hours before you run. I don’t think this was the culprit for me today, but it’s good advice, nonetheless.
- Get in a good warm up. Without a solid warm-up, your breathing can be too sporadic, causing a side stitch. I thought I warmed up fairly well, but honestly, I didn’t walk as long I usually do to warm up — and I definitely didn’t ease into my pace. I went for a full on pace run a little too quickly. There’s nothing wrong with easing into things. It’s better for the body; better for the breathing; better all around.
- Make sure you regulate your breathing. This one’s somewhat of an offshoot of the issue above. Jump right in without a good warm-up and your breathing will likely be all over the place, as well. I can attest to that — and think this coupled with No. 3 are to blame for my recent side stitch.
- And, if you’re looking for a way to relieve it, try this top from Runner’s World:
Slow down and exhale to release the stitch. If you still get another side stitch, implement this strategy and it will go away in seconds (I promise). Slow your pace and exhale as the foot on the opposite side of the stitch strikes the ground. This doesn’t mean every time that foot hits the ground, but as you exhale, do so in sync with that opposite side. When you exhale, you use the muscles of your diaphragm. When this happens in unison with your foot striking the ground, the impact forces travel up the body and through your core (your side too) and exacerbate (piss off) the muscles in spasm creating that stitch. When you change the side of the landing, it forces to the opposite side, the tension causing the stitch releases. For example, your stitch is in your right side. You slow your pace, and exhale as your left foot is hitting the ground. Voila! Side stitch is history and you’re running without swearing…
Lesson learned: I think I just dove in too quickly today. I sat at my desk all day at work, came home, smooched on my girls, then tried to cram in a fast, pace run before making dinner (My husband took the girls to taekwondo, so I had about two hours after work to run and cook). On top of all that, my legs felt like jello from a busy weekend of running — a training run, followed by family running fun.
What’s your best running tip to rid yourself of side stitches — or whatever else might plague your training from time to time?