The less sporty among us tend to experience this painful sensation after merely a few minutes of physical effort. A stitch can cause such acute pain that it can take our breath away and force us to take a break. It demotivates people who only rarely exercise and it exasperates fit people who want to keep going with their exercise plan. The best way of avoiding them is to prevent them! All the same, we have also included a few tips for relieving them when they happen.
How can you prevent a stitch?
1) Don’t forget to warm up
You can’t ask your body to make a huge effort without having first warmed up the “machine”. So before going running or training, remember to warm up. It isn’t a waste of time or energy, but a way of getting your body into the right condition so that you can exercise in peace.
To warm up your diaphragm before exercising (which is what often causes the problem), breathe in sucking in your tummy, and breathe out while puffing it out.
2) Start slow, finish fast
Taking off like a bullet will do you no favours. Start at your own pace and gradually increase it.
3) Work on your breathing
Remember to breathe deeply while you exercise, especially remembering to breathe out deeply. We increase the out-breath with physical effort to prevent carbonic gases from accumulating. Breathing should remain constant. If possible, try to pace your breathing with your steps.
4) Don’t go running just after eating
Wait 3 hours after eating before going for a run or starting exercising, in order to ensure your digestion isn’t disrupted by impact on the intestines. Furthermore, the blood flows to the digestive organs during digestion, meaning the diaphragm has less blood flowing towards it, which can cause stitches.
It goes without saying that it is better not to eat unhealthy foods before exercising (in the 48 hours beforehand). Avoid excess fats and fibres, sugars, fizzy drinks and fermented foods.
Hydrate yourself with small sips every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise in order to take care of your body and avoid stitches.
How to relieve a stitch
1) A few simple steps
- Go slower to get your breath back.
- Lean forward. Breathe out the air contained in your lungs and stay there for a few seconds.
- Press on the stitch with your hands.
- Walk around taking deep, calm breaths.
- Stretch your body in the opposite direction of the pain.
- Grasp an object firmly in your hand, on the side of the stitch (a ball, a bottle, a small stone you find lying around, etc.).
2) Three step technique
Breathe in deeply. Keeping the air in your lungs, use your fingers to press on the place where you have the stitch (either on the liver on the right, or on the spleen in the left). Bend forwards and release all the air through your mouth.
3) Play around with your breathing
In order to get rid of the accumulated carbonic gases, cross your hands behind your back and breathe out 4 times for two breaths in. You can even do so while you continue running.