Side stitches are a common complaint among athletes and can dramatically affect their performance. While they are not overly dangerous, a stitch at the wrong time can mean the difference between winning and losing.
What Causes A Side Stitch?
Everyone has experienced the sharp pain of a stitch while going for a run or a brisk walk, but the exact cause of a stitch is unknown.
Pain usually occurs during strenuous exercise that involves the repetitive movement of the upper body, especially swimming and running.
The pain caused by a side stitch is localised and most commonly occurs on the right side of the body, directly below the ribs.
Stitches are primarily thought to be caused by friction between tissue layers in the stomach. A full stomach is also thought to contribute to this friction.
A side stitch is characterised by a sharp or sudden pain directly below one of the ribcages (usually the on the right side). Pain usually occurs during exercise and will generally subside when the activity stops.
How To Treat A Side Stitch:
Improving your posture while exercising can help prevent a side stitch. A physiotherapist can help you to improve your posture while exercising by observing your techniques.
A side stitch will usually go away on their own once you have stopped exercising, however, you can ease the pain by:
- Slowing down or stopping exercise, bending forward and pushing your finger into the painful area.
- Deep breathing: Inhale deeply and exhale slowly until the pain subsides.
- Stretching your abdominal muscles by reaching your arms above your head, hold this position until the pain goes away.
How To Prevent A Side Stitch:
You can prevent a side stitch by:
- Waiting at least two hours after eating a meal before you exercise.
- Avoiding high-fat or high-fibre foods before exercising.
- Do not drink high-sugar or large amounts of any liquids immediately before exercising.
- Improving your posture while exercising with the help of a physiotherapist.
- Decreasing the intensity of your workout, but increasing its duration.
If side stitches are holding back your game you should contact your doctor or call us for more information on how we can treat you. Make an appointment by calling 03 9470 1010.