Dealing With Side Stitch Pain
Whether you're running or doing any kind of exercise, a very familiar sharp pain in your side can stop you. If you've ever experienced a lateral spot, also known as a muscle spot or exercise-related transient abdominal pain (ETAP), you know how upsetting and uncomfortable it can be.
Lateral points are common during many forms of exercise, particularly when running. In fact, a 2015 study estimated that up to 70% of runners had points in the previous year. Also, about one in five race participants will likely earn points.
Fortunately, ETAP is not a medical emergency, not even a reason to see a doctor. The causes of lateral sutures are not yet fully understood, but most people can handle an event that happens. Learn how to get rid of a side stitch so you can keep moving without discomfort.
What is a point?
You may have felt a side sting (also called a side cramp, side patch, or side pain) at some point during exercise. The main symptom of a suture is pain located on one side of the abdomen. This sharp, sudden pain is usually felt in the lower right part of the abdomen, just below the ribs. It is especially common among runners and swimmers. In older runners, spots typically occur on the right side twice as often as on the left.
While age appears to play a role in ETAP, and older adults are less subject to secondary points than children, adolescents, or young adults, a person's sex or body mass index does not. Virtually anyone, of any shape, size, or ability, can gain a side point from many different types of physical activity.
Research shows that people describe ETAP in different ways depending on the level of pain: sharp or sharp if it is severe, or as a muscle cramp or pulling sensation when it is less severe.
Although the exact causes may not be well understood, there are several known risk factors associated with PADD.
- Age: Younger runners are more likely to receive lateral stitches than older adults. But when older runners develop ETAP, they tend to rate the pain as less severe.
Eating and drinking before a race: Eating food or drinks before a race can increase your risk of getting poked. Certain types of food and drink seem to be more associated with ETAP, particularly those that are high in sugar or fat, some fruits and fruit juices, and dairy products.
- Low fitness level: People new to exercise may experience cramps, such as lateral stitches, if they are still working to develop and strengthen their abdominal muscles.
- High Intensity Exercises: On the other hand, exercising very hard, despite your fitness level, can increase the likelihood that you will receive stitches, especially if you are not warmed up.
- Do not heat: Proper warming up gets oxygen flowing through the body, which can help prevent stitches, especially in runners.
Running in cold weather: Some people find it more difficult to run in cold weather, as cold air can cause diaphragm spasms. If you can't breathe deeply, you may have cramps or stitches.
Causes of side stitches
Although secondary points have been well studied, researchers are not yet sure why they occur. While there are many possibilities, most of them are based on anecdotal evidence. Reasons you may receive a side stitch may include:
- Curvature of the spine (scoliosis): One study found a link between PADD and increased curvature of the spine.
- Drinking sweet beverages - Some research has shown that drinking sugary beverages before exercise increases the likelihood of points.
- Running Right After Eating - Runners sometimes find their stitches are more likely to itch if they are still full after a meal or pre-workout snack.
- Don't warm up before a race - Runners sometimes report that they are more likely to take lateral points if they start running without warming up.
- Shallow breathing: the lack of adequate breathing during the run was attributed to the lateral points.
How to get rid of a side stitch
Tips for interrupting a side stitch abound. While they may not work for everyone, none of them are harmful, and at least one of them can do the trick for you. The next time a stitch threatens to get in the way of your exercise, here is a sequence of steps to try before throwing in the towel:
Gently push your fingers into the painful area on the right side of your abdomen. This should help alleviate it to some extent.
Change your breathing pattern: breathe deeply as fast as you can; this will force your diaphragm down. Hold your breath for a few seconds and then exhale forcefully through pursed lips.
Try changing your breathing / stride pattern. If you always exhale when your right foot hits the ground, try exhaling with the strike of your left foot.
Try stretching the area. If you have a side stitch on the left side, raise your left arm above your head and lean over to the right side. This will help open up the muscles in the area of the seam.
If all else fails, slow down to a brisk walk and focus on deep breathing. When you pass the point, you can resume your activity.
How to avoid a side stitch
There are known risk factors for receiving stitches while running and exercising. Fortunately, if you take a few precautions, you may find that avoiding a point may be easier than making it go away. While some risk factors cannot be controlled, such as age or climate, there are some pros and cons that you can be aware of.
Know how to stock up
Avoid sugary drinks that are high in carbohydrates, including sports drinks, and drink only plain water for prehydration. Make sure you eat well too. Avoid heavy meals before exercise, especially protein-rich foods that can take longer to digest. While training, drink instead of fluids and avoid drinks with high concentrations of acid, added sugar (carbohydrates), or sodium.
Get oxygen to flow through your body before intensifying your exercise. Regulating your breathing is one of the most effective ways to avoid stitches.
Simply inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, taking deep breaths through your belly rather than your chest to take in more air.
If you are running, change your breathing pattern. Most runners follow a two-to-one breathing pattern, taking one breath for every two full steps. Consciously changing this pattern from time to time can reduce the stress placed on your abdomen and torso.
Strengthen your core
Incorporate yoga into your exercise routine. Practice will help you learn to breathe properly. Breathing techniques in yoga focus on deep abdominal breathing. Learn to breathe with your diaphragm, extending your abdomen during inhalations and pulling it inward as you exhale.
Certain yoga poses can strengthen your abdominal muscles. Incorporate core strength into your workout, including 8 boards, side boards, and V-sit.
Always warm up first - start with some dynamic stretches and a 5-10 minute walk or jog to get the blood pumping to your muscles before running. Make sure to avoid bending over, which will also allow you to breathe more deeply. Focus on maintaining good posture and proper running form.
Dress for the weather
If it's really cold outside and you're not dressed for it, you'll probably find it difficult to take a deep breath of the freezing air. Before going for a walk or run in the cold, put on a neck warmer, scarf, or wrap a scarf around your neck and lightly over your mouth and nose and breathe in and out through it.
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Source: Global Triathlon Network
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