Whether you are a seasoned runner or a weekend warrior there is a good chance you have encountered the side stitch. The side stitch is personified by a sharp pain on the side of the abdomen during a run, it typically presents on the right side at the base of the ribcage and is only relieved by slowing down or stopping and stretching. With these simple tips hopefully one can decrease that pain or even eliminate it completely.
We know the side stitch is brought on by a stressful run and as a runner you know all to well how to push yourself through pain. What else can cause the side stitch though? Research shows that eating a high carb meal or a drink with a high osmolarity (high sugar content like a fruit juice) within an hour of a run, can be a major cause. So eat light before a run as your body does need a source of energy.
Another major causes of the stitch is breathing patterns and understanding them is a key to helping prevent pain. Often times those who encounter the side stitch are shallow breathers, in other words they take short quick breathes. One technique to alleviate the pain is to slow down your breathing by taking longer, deeper breathes. As you regain your speed in the run try to make a conscious effort to take a deep breath every so often, this has been proven to work with a number of runners. Another suggestion the research makes is to exhale when you strike your foot on the side of pain. So if you were to have right sided pain, try to breathe out when you land on your right foot. This strategy may only serve to change your breathing pattern, but in any case it has been shown to be effective.
Posturing is another factor that contributes to side pain during a run. If you run hunched over, leaned back or tilted to either side there is a chance you are putting undo stress on your ribcage. Besides making obvious changes of a more balanced posture, it may be beneficial to work on those changes before the run. For instance doing crunches to improve abdominal strength is a fantastic way to improve ones overall posture, which would then carry over into ones training.
Whether you are bothered by side pain every time you train or it rarely bothers you, hopefully you will be prepared to combat this intense pain. There is no substitute for a good training regimen and ones endurance will ultimately help put an end to this pain, but if in that quest you should encounter the stitch remember to control your breathing and pay attention to your pre-run meal.