(2 minute read)
How often do you get that annoying pain in your side? Yes, most likely that’s a stitch! Should you be exercising through it?
What is a stitch?
The cause of a stitch isn’t completely understood. It is medically known as exercise-related transient abdominal pain (ETAP) and there are a few theories as to why and how a stitch starts.
Some specialists say it could be cramp in the diaphragm or a spasm in the oblique. Others say it could be a result of irritation to the membrane that lines the abdominal wall (helping to protect your organs).
Is it safe to exercise with a stitch?
It is pretty harmless, it may be uncomfortable, so slow down or even stop until you ride it out and it goes away. The good news is, it’s common to experience a stitch less as your fitness increases.
How to reduce stitches?
This may be different for each individual, however, if you get them often give these a go and see what works for you:
Before your workout:
Stay hydrated - sip water instead of drinking lots quickly.
Don’t eat a large meal just before you train, have a smaller meal that isn’t too high in fats as they are slower to digest and you may feel this a little more during your workout.
Avoid sugary drinks before you exercise, this includes fruit juices.
During your workout:
Take good big deep breaths to get the oxygen your body needs, this will also help stretch your diaphragm.
Slow down if you get a stitch and take deep breaths.
Stretch out your abdominal area to help relieve the pain.
A stitch is a sign that your body is under stress when exercising, however, it is pretty harmless and safe to exercise with a stitch, so don’t worry about it too much. However, if you do get pain often, you may want to seek advice from a healthcare professional to check it is not anything else.
Hope this helps with those stitches,
BSc Sports Science, Women’s Fitness Specialist and Personal Trainer