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Exercise-induced Abdominal Pain ‘Stitch’ Level 3

Effects 20k
Severity 3/5
Likelihood 3/5

What triggers stitches?
No one is immune to stitches! Whether you’re embarking upon your first 10k training plan or are an experienced ultramarathoner, you may experience the dreaded muscle stitch on a run. But there are some things that seem to increase your chances of getting one while out on a run.

Not warming up properly
We can all be guilty of it sometimes – we just want to get out there and get on with our miles, whether we’re doing a quick speed session or a long run. But fail to warm up properly and you could run the risk of muscle stitches. A good warm up will warm up your body and promote proper breathing, getting you into a good rhythm for your run.

You should read more about knee pain level 1

Eating right before your run
If you eat too much, too soon before your run could be another trigger for stitches. Try to avoid eating a heavy meal 1–2 hours before your run, as this can activate your GI system – resulting in less oxygen to your diaphragm. And if your diaphragm is getting less oxygen than it needs while you’re trying to push it hard on a run, you may end up with a stitch.

Starting too hard = stitches
Sprinting from the off may lead to side pains, as you haven’t given your body enough time to adjust. Take it easy for the first mile or so on your run to let your body settle into it, before you start to push the pace.

Not breathing properly
If you take shallow breaths when you run, then there’s a chance your muscles won’t get enough oxygen. This could mean that they become overly tired, causing cramps and stitches. Instead of shallow chest breathing, try taking belly breaths when you run. This type of breathing engages your diaphragm, allowing your lungs to expand fully and take in more oxygen.