Healthy Blog

Stitch Free Running

Monday, April 11, 2016

How to avoid getting a stitch on your next run

5 tips to avoid getting a stitch on your next run.

Stitch-free running

Whether you’re a novice or a marathon runner, being struck down with a stitch just when you hit your stride, is not only painful but can add precious seconds or minutes to your time.  

Stitches are caused by a contraction or spasm of the diaphragm, often due to the tugging and pulling of the muscles when we move up and down. The body also demands more oxygen when we’re exercising which means we tend to breathe harder, shallower and gulp air.

It can feel like stitches strike at random, appearing out of nowhere, but there are a number of ways you can reduce your risk of falling victim to a stitch.

How to avoid getting a stitch on your next run:

Tip 1: Make sure you maintain good core strength
Follow a strength program that includes exercises such as planks, push-ups and mountain climbers to help you build your core strength. The stronger your core is, the more solid you are when you hit the ground, making you a more economical runner.

Tip 2: Make sure you’re hydrated before you run.
Drink 2 cups of fluid, 1-2 hours before you run. This gives your kidneys enough time to process the liquids. Having a lot of liquid in your stomach just before you run will be uncomfortable and may increase your chance of a stitch. So stick to a few mouthfuls of water before you start.

Tip 3: Keep your breathing pattern steady and equal.
Breathe deeply through the belly and the diaphragm, inhaling for two steps and exhaling for three. This technique will allow your next breathe to start on the opposite foot. This helps the muscles in your diaphragm move the air around your lungs equally.
Avoid shallow breathing through the upper chest and lifting your shoulders when you run.

Tip 4: Warm up
Warm up your muscles before you run with a short 2-3 minute walk and dynamic movements such as high knees, walking lunges, hip circles, arm swings. This type of warm up will also reduce your risk of getting a running injury.

Tip 5: Maintain correct posture and running form
After you’ve been running for a while you may start to sink into a hunch position which will make your muscles work harder. Stay mindful of your posture and running form.  Aim for shoulders down, head up, a relatively straight back with only a slight bend forward.

Still getting a stitch?

Try these 5 techniques to treat a stitch:

  1. Mix up your breathing – take two quick deep breathes in to push your diaphragm down.
  2. Hold your breath for 3 seconds and exhale through pursed lips.
  3. Raise the same arm as the side of your stitch and place your hand behind your head –this will help stretch out your diaphragm.
  4. Bend over for a 5 seconds and touch your toes.
  5. Massage the affected area with a few fingers to stimulate blood flow.

If you would like to have your running style assessed, come in and have a biomechanical assessment done by one of our team on the treadmill we can give you specific advice tailored to you.