Health & Lifestyle


Running with a stitch

We’ve all had one! But what are they and how do we avoid getting them? Here’s Mel to tell us exactly that:

What is a stitch?

Stitch is normally felt in the upper right abdomen. It may radiate to upper or lower regions of the body. It is more likely to occur in insufficiently trained people or to novices.

What causes stitch?

The inner organs are hanging from several ligaments which, in turn, are fixed to the diaphragm (the muscular plate between chest and abdomen). The liver, spleen, stomach, small intestine and colon comprise a weight of several kgs, hanging from the diaphragm. Every step forces the inner organs to move downwards. In addition the diaphragm moves upwards on every expiration to force air from the lungs. This continuous up and down stress can cause a cramp in the diaphragm (stitch). The reason it occurs mostly on the right hand side is that the liver is situated there and is the heaviest organ.

How to avoid stitch

Strengthen the abdominal muscles, do not exercise too soon after meals and practice abdominal breathing.

Can I relieve stitch and continue running?

Try holding your breath for a few strides. You will then be forced to breathe in and out vigorously. Repeated 4 or 5 times it has been found that this can eventually relieve stitch to a certain extent.

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