How to avoid side stitches

Side stitches are sharp pains that occur right under the ribcage area. A side stitch will oftentimes happen very suddenly, and will often result in in a lot of pain. Most commonly, side stiches are caused by a muscle spasm in the diaphragm, and usually occur during intense bouts of swimming or running.

Unfortunately, there is no definite consensus pertaining to the cause (although some people believe it is diet related) of side stitches. However, there are a few ways to help prepare the diaphragm before exercise, which will greatly reduce the chances of an occurrence.

Take deep breaths

A side stich is like to occur from shallow breathing. When you exercise, try to take deeper breaths and ensure you are not holding your breaths in for too long. Some runners have also found that it can be beneficial to exhale through pursed lips during an intense run.

Take It Slow

Ramping up your intensity quickly can easily cause you to slip into a rhythm of short and shallow breaths, resulting in a side stitch. Try to gradually increase the intensity in accordance with your overall fitness level.

Develop a stronger core

Having strong abdominal muscles can be beneficial in preventing side stitches. If you are not a fan of crunches, consider doing something fun like Pilates a few times a week.

Plan your meals

You will often find that exercising on a full stomach is likely to cause side stiches. Additionally, consuming high sugar beverages during your workout can bring about a side stitch. Practice a low sugar diet with frequent smaller meals throughout the day.

Consider A Heart Rate Monitor

Heart rate monitors are devices that attach to your cheat or wrist and can actively monitor your heart rate. Keeping close track of your heart rate will allow you to push your limits without going overboard, which can reduce the chances of suffering a muscle spasm since there will be less stress placed on the diaphragm.=

Serious Signs

One thing to note is that sometimes you can experience pain in the side that also radiates down your arm. This is a sign that something else is wrong, and you should immediately stop your exercise and consult a doctor


Running can be a fun way to stay in shape. Don’t let pain get in the way of your fitness goals. Although they can be painful, side stiches are not serious and relief will generally come pretty quickly. To speed up the recovery process, its best to slow down your exercise routine and stretch do a quick stretch by leaning away from the effected side. Try massaging the area too, as this can help free up fascia and relax the muscles a bit.

This post was written by Alex Fischer, creator of Activity Tracker World. Alex is a full time blogger who writes about fitness and technology, and is passionate about healthy eating and living an active lifestyle.

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