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How to Get Rid of and Prevent Side Stitches While Running

Updated on March 9, 2013

One of the single worst feelings when your running one of your best times yet is when you get a sharp pain in your side, called a side stitch. Side stitches are generally believed to be caused by the ligaments connecting your internal organs being strained and hurting from the impact of having your feet hit the ground, the most common example is your liver which is directly below your lowest right rib, or from your diaphragm becoming too tense do to poor breathing techniques. There are a few different ways to prevent getting side stitches the three most common sources of side stitches are when you don't drink enough water during the day leading up to your run, drinking too much water before your run, or eating much too close to your run. Personally I always drink two water bottles before all of my runs, but im always finished the last one at least 45 minutes before my run. In regards to food, never eat at least one hour before your run, and don't eat foods that are high in fiber or sugar because they are the hardest to digest. If the side stitch is on your left side, it's because you ate to close to taking our run, and if it is on your right side, then that is probably your ligaments being stretched.

In terms of curing, one of the easiest things to do is your natural instinct, which is to hold your side where it hurts, but instead of just your side, try to push "up" back up into your rib cage, it will help to alleviate the tension on your ligaments. Another thing you can do is poke into exactly where it hurts and do the largest exhale you can possible do, this will relax your diaphragm which can get very tense and cause pain. Next you should try to control your breathing by having you inhale and exhale when your foot opposite to the side where you are hurting strikes the ground, this is one of the most import tricks to learn because learning how to control your breathing is an instrumental part of running. If you get into the habit of running using quick breaths when running long distance, you aren't maximizing the capacity of your lungs and you are making it much harder on yourself. If the side stitch is too much to handle, sit down and do ten sit ups and then get back up and gradually go from walking to jogging and back to your running pace.The truly best way to prevent side stitches and never have to worry about that pain, is too frequently run and try to run through your side stitches whenever you have too, because once you get into really good or even average running condition, running becomes a lot easier and side stitches almost never occur.


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