What is a Side Stitch and Why Won’t It Go Away?

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Email
Print

Side Stitch

If you run, you’ve likely experienced a side stitch. If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky! A side stitch is a cramp-like sensation occurring toward the bottom of the rib cage area and usually on the right side of the body. The sensations can range from slightly annoying to a more severe stabbing-type pain.

WHAT THE HELL IS IT?

The nerdy name for a side stitch is ‘Exercise-Related Transient Abdominal Pain,’ or ETAP, for short. While there are many theories out there as to the exact cause, no one singular cause for ETAP has been identified.

Of the many theories, below are some of the more common ones:

  • Lack of electrolytes
  • Increased blood flow to spleen/liver
  • Stretching of ligaments associated with the diaphragm
  • Shallow breathing
  • Excessive back flexion (rounding of the back)

Some runners also experience pain in the shoulder (usually right-hand side) when running. This is thought to be referred pain from the diaphragm via the phrenic nerve.

While ETAP is not dangerous, it likely causes frequent breaks to stretch, reduced pace or even cessation of a run.

CAN I PREVENT IT?

While some people seem more susceptible than others to ETAP, below are five things that may help:

  1. Strengthen inner-core musculature (deep core muscles)
  2. Gradually increase running mileage and intensity
  3. Increase fitness level
  4. Get a proper warm-up
  5. Pay attention to pre-run hydration/food intake to see if there is a correlation with ETAP

HOW CAN I MAKE IT GO AWAY?

As noted above, when ETAP occurs, common ways to reduce or eliminate it is to slow down, stretch, stop running and to focus on deep breathing.

 

Muir, Brad (2009-12-01). “Exercise related transient abdominal pain: a case report and review of the literature”. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association. 53 (4): 251–260.

Morton, DP; Callister, R (September 2010). “Influence of posture and body type on the experience of exercise-related transient abdominal pain.”. Journal of science and medicine in sport / Sports Medicine Australia. 13 (5): 485–8.

Plunkett, BT; Hopkins, WG (August 1999). “Investigation of the side pain “stitch” induced by running after fluid ingestion.”. Medicine and science in sports and exercise. 31 (8): 1169–75.

Morton, DP; Callister, R (2000 Feb). “Characteristics and etiology of exercise related transient abdominal pain.”. Medicine and science in sports and exercise 32 (2): 432–8.

Rick Prince

Rick Prince

Founder/Director of United Endurance Sports Coaching Academy (UESCA).

Leave a Reply

Become a Certified Cycling Coach

UESCA Cycling Certification Please enter your email below to receive our newsletter and Cycling Certification course overview/syllabus… oh, and a link to get $50 off the certification price!


Recent Posts

Become a Certified Running Coach

Running Coach Certification

Please enter your email below to receive our newsletter and Running Certification course overview/syllabus… oh, and a link to get $50 off the certification price!





What People Are Saying

Brandon Fravel
Brandon Fravel
Running
Read More
"The running certification from UESCA was amazing! This certification provided detailed running modules that included images and videos. After I got my certification, I started my own running business and expended my clientele. Without all the help from UESCA, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today!"
Jennifer Prong
Jennifer Prong
Running
Read More
"The UESCA Running Coach Certification program was very well-rounded, detailed and captivating! It was very convenient to be able to study on my own schedule which allowed me to finish my certification in a timely manner."
Will Weidman
Will Weidman
Ultrarunning
Read More
“UESCA and Jason Koop have put together the definitive source of knowledge for ultra marathons. As a coach and veteran of 70+ ultras, I learned a tremendous amount and can’t wait to put it into action personally and for my athletes!”
Deborah Livingston
Deborah Livingston
Ultrarunning
Read More
The UESCA Ultra-running Certification is packed with extremely informative and useful information to enhance an endurance running coach's knowledge base. I found the modules engaging with the newest information and thoughts in the ultra-running world. I really enjoyed the studies, charts and videos that solidified and clarified the information given.
Julian Fernandez
Julian Fernandez
Ultrarunning
Read More
If I was able to shave close to one hour from my 50K PR after I applied UESCA’s General Running Coach certification to my training, I can only imagine what I will be able to help my athletes achieve when applying the more specific Ultra Running certification principles to their training.
Previous
Next

Become a Certified Triathlon Coach

Triathlon Coaching Certification
Please enter your email below to receive our newsletter and Triathlon Certification course overview/syllabus… oh, and a link to get $50 off the certification price!

Follow Us