Nothing hinders a good run like the dreaded side stitch. That dull pain or sharp cramp in your abdomen is something over 70% of runners experience. What causes side stitches is vastly unknown. They could creep up after a lack of blood flow reaches your diaphragm during your run, thanks to your rapid breathing pattern. They could also be the result of irritation of the membranes which line your abdominal wall, but that hasn't been proven either. So how do you stop these killer cramps or prevent them from even making an appearance? Prevent Them:
- No fatty or high-fibre snacks. Foods that are harder to digest can cause cramping and put pressure on your diaphragm.
- Warm-up. Studies have shown that a good warm-up routine can prevent side stitches. Getting your heart rate up pre-run is always effective.
- Skip the fruit juice. Fruit juice has been shown to cause more instances of side stitches because of it is high carb and highly concentrated.
- Stop, breathe, stretch. Stricken with a cramp? Take time out to breathe deeply and stretch your body to the opposite side of the stitch.
- Find a rhythm. Slow down and develop a system of inhaling as your foot raises and exhaling as it hits the ground. This can help relieve the pain and balance your breathing.
- Bring some salt. Running long distances can cause our bodies to lose electrolytes, so bring along a salt packet and take a taste when you feel a cramp coming on. This can help restore your body's electrolytes and stop the stitch in its tracks.