How to avoid Side Stitch

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side stitch 1

I get strong pain on the right side of my lower abdomen while running. What is it? Why does it happen?

Pain felt on either side of the abdomen, mainly the right side while running is known as a side stitch. This is what runners feel especially beginners. It is also known as Exercise-related Transient Abdominal Pain (ETAP). While running one may feel cramps, a dull pain, a pulling sensation, or even a sharp stabbing pain.

Why does it Happen?

Frankly, science is not clear as to why it happens. However studying the history of runners and the stage when it occurs, one can conclude to a few probable reasons. The explanation may range from:

  • the poor blood supply in the diaphragm area
  • irritation in the abdominal organ area
  • poor oxygen supply to the diaphragm.


The most accepted explanation could be that when we run, our internal organs move with every step. As the diaphragm moves when we breathe in and out, it creates tension in the body and cramps occur in that area.
Although the side stitch is harmless, it is quite a pain to run with. It may lead to one dropping out of a race.

Major reasons can be nervousness, improper breathing technique, wrong running posture, accelerating too quickly, weak abdominal muscles, running with a full stomach, and wrong running style.

How to Prevent it?

Science today is not clear about the exact physiological reasons for this pain, however certain things help avoid it:

  • Light eating before running.
  • Warming up well before a run.
  • Slowly increasing pace and keeping upper body upright.
  • Looking about 30 to 40 feet ahead while running.
  • Controlling one’s breath.
  • Ensuring that shallow breathing is avoided.
  • Building core and abdominal muscles

These are a few of the options one should adopt to run happily.

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How to Cure it?

Once a side stitch happens while running, one can take the following measures:

  • To apply pressure in that area, slow down a bit.
  • Stop for a while and bend your upper body.
  • Stretching of the area or walk a bit and allow the pain to go away.
  • Some people use a technique to press a nerve in the middle of the palm with the middle finger of the same hand. This technique has come up from Sujok.

Article by: Capt Jitender Harjai Fitness expert H2F Care

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