Thursday, 4 August 2011

Word of advice...

...Never type in 'Running' and 'Stitch' into Google together, unless you have a subscription to ‘Sewing and Needlework Monthly'. To save you the trouble of trawling through page after page of  embroidery related sites I thought I would explain all the ins and outs of that pesky pain.

I have been getting increasingly frustrated with having to start, then stop, start then stop mid- run due to being in tremendous amounts of pain. I'm telling you now, if I didn't have to deal with this I would be up there with all the elite athletes (or at least I like to tell myself.)

Are you ready for the boring fact bit?

What is stitch, and why do we get it?

'The reason for stitch is simple. The inner organs are hanging from several ligaments, which, in turn, are fixed to the diaphragm, the muscular "plate" between chest and abdomen. Liver, spleen, stomach, small intestine and colon form a weight of several kilograms, hanging from the diaphragm. The impact of every step forces the inner organs to move downwards. Additionally, the diaphragm moves upwards on every expiration to force air out of the lungs. This continuous up/down stress may cause a cramp in the diaphragm: stitch. Stitch occurs most often on the right hand side because of the liver being the heaviest organ, and therefore the one stressing the diaphragm the most.

How to get rid of stitch?

Should you suffer from stitch, the first (and best) cure is to slow down or stop until the stitch is gone. If you do not want to stop, you can try to press your hand onto the part of your abdomen where the stitch is, and release the pressure on expiration. Repeat this several times.

·  Slow your pace slightly
·  Grasp your side where you feel the stitch just under the bottom rib and half way across      between the side and the belly button. Thumb to the rear and fingers to the front
·  Squeeze firmly and bend at the waist (45-90 degrees) while still running
·  After about 15 metres slowing straighten
·  The stitch should have gone

An alternative method based on the theory it is caused by the synchronisation of the movement of the organs and the diaphragm is to synchronise your breathing pattern with your running, and exhale/inhale when the foot on the non- hurting side strikes the ground.
For example: if you have stitch in your right hand side, change your breathing pattern so you exhale/inhale as your left foot strikes the ground'

OK, so keep an eye out for me on my next run. I will be the girl running at a snail's pace, bent double at a right angle, breathing erratically with my hand pushing firmly into my side. A sight for sore eyes.



  1. Hi ya!! Hope you don't mind me stopping by!!! I too and a fairly BEGINNER runner (only been at it a few years...and not too seriously until now.) I hate stitches. I used to get them all the time within the first few months of starting running. I don't get them as much now- I really focus on my breathing and that seems to help!!
    Come visit me @

  2. Aloha! That is funny about the results you will get if you google running stitch.

    Another tip that a coach told me years ago, but I haven't really had too many stitches to test it with but seems to help, is to straigten my body and stretch in the opposite direction of the stitch. So if the stitch is on the right, straighten your back and stretch back to the left. Worth giving it a try!