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Side stitches while running

I've been experiencing intensely painful side stitches while running, and sometimes even just fast walking, particularly on the treadmill. I've been "speed walking" long distances for years, but am only an occasional runner. Regardless, this pain thing is pretty new. I've heard water and fast exhalations work for some, but apparently not for me. Does anyone else have this problem? And if so, any suggestions on what could help?

Sat. Jun 2, 12:11am

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007, 8:34 PM

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try staying very hydrated all day and long deep breaths- breathe through your nose and out your mouth... that's always helped me

Tuesday, June 05, 2007, 8:36 PM

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I occasionally got those side stiches when I was running a lot. I second the breathing. If I remember my Runner's World suggestion (a great online resource, btw) exhaling forcefully seems to help.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007, 8:55 PM

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i've found that running for a bit with my arms raised above my head helps. sure, i look like a fool, but such i life. CGS

Tuesday, June 05, 2007, 9:29 PM

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What causes the side pains anyway? Is it related to your breathing? I try to keep my breathing even and that seems to ward it off for me. I'll have to try the hands above my head next time! I'm not afraid to look like an idiot if it makes me feel better! ;-)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007, 9:36 PM

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Runner's World

Here's an excerpt from an article I recently read on RW's website (which someone else mentioned on here too). The fist in the side thing actually DOES work (feels really awkward, but gets rid of it pretty quickly!)

A sharp pain usually felt just below the rib cage (though sometimes farther up the torso), caused by a cramp in the diaphragm, gas in the intestines or food in the stomach. Stitches normally come on during hard workouts or races.

If you get a stitch on your right side (which is more common),
slow down for 30 seconds or so and exhale forcefully each time your left foot hits the ground. If the stitch is on the left, exhale hard when your right foot lands. Continue until pain recedes. If this doesn't help, try slow, deep "belly breathing" (your abdomen should go in and out with each breath). Or run with your hands on top of your head and your elbows back while you breathe deeply from your belly.

Another remedy is to take your fist and dig it under your ribcage, push the fist in with your other arm and bend your torso over almost to 90 degrees. Run like this for 10 steps. This stretches the diaphragm, and most stitches are caused by a spasm of the diaphragm. If none of these techniques work, stop and walk until the pain subsides.

And here's a no-brainer: to prevent stitches caused by food in the stomach, don't eat before you run.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007, 9:46 PM

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OP here

Thank you so much for the Runner's World advice. This problem has been seriously hampering my workouts, so I really appreciate any proposed remedy :)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007, 12:07 AM

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