How to Prevent & Treat a Side Stitch

A Side Stitch or “Transient Abdominal Pain” is a sharp, intense pain under the lower edge of the rib cage, more often on the left side. They are usually a result of starting out a run too fast.

Here are some techniques to prevent a side stitch:

  1. Eating too close to your run – avoid eating within an hour of your run. Stick to plain water for pre-hydration and avoid sugary, carbonated drinks.
  2. Warm up before your run. Dynamic Stretches and 5 minutes of walking
    or an easy jog.
  3. Avoid shallow breathing. Make sure your breathing in and out through your mouth when you are running. Breath deeply from your belly, not your chest. Deep Belly breathing allows you to take in more air.
  4. Running in extreme cold temperatures may induce side stitches, if you are running in cold weather, try breathing deeply through a scarf.
  5. Good Running Form – Good Posture, no hunching over. If you are leaning over it is harder to take deep breaths.

Here is how you can treat a side stitch on your run:

  1. First, gently push your fingers into the area where you’re feeling the stitch. Then, to get rid of the side stitch, try altering your breathing pattern.
  2. Take a deep breath in as quickly as you can, to force the diaphragm down. Hold your breath for a couple of seconds and then forcibly exhale through pursed lips.
  3. If you get a cramp in the middle of a run, you might want to try changing your breathing/striding pattern. If you always exhale when your right foot strikes the ground, try exhaling with the left foot strike
  4. If all else fails, you may have to stop and walk briskly for a few seconds while concentrating on deep breathing. Continue running after the stitch is gone.


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