The Dreaded Stitch

We’ve all been victim to the dreaded stitch! And as with muscle soreness, exhaustion and injury, they are more common amongst those just starting out exercising, running in particular. As you build your cardio fitness and gain more control over your breathing, you will experience less frequent stitches.

Contrary to common thought, stitches are not caused by drinking whilst running. It is a topic that has been studied extensively, yet a solid cause is yet to be identified. The following are steps you can take to reduce your chances of a stitch creeping up and ruining your flow.

Avoid eating at least an hour before working out – The body will struggle to function at peak level if it is trying to digest food.

Fuel your body with the right stuff – Studies have shown that drinking sugary drinks before a workout contributes to higher occurrences of stitches among runners. If your body is running on the right stuff, it will give you the best results.

Take regular breaths as much as you can – Shallow breathing can cause the diaphragm to spasm. Pace yourself and try to take regular breaths.

Maintain your posture while exercising – A hunched over torso stunts the body’s internal functions (not to mention strains your back), increasing the likelihood of stitching up. Keep your posture straight and slow down if your form compromises.

But what do I do if I get a stitch?
Unfortunately some stitches are unavoidable, but they don’t mean that you should finish your workout. Slow down to a steady pace, perhaps a brisk walk and concentrate on taking a few deep breaths. This will put more stretch and movement through your diaphragm, releasing the muscles that have tensed up. Take your time to recover. You’ll be back to speeding along in no time!


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