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FITNESS

Your Bod

"Ouch! Why do I get side stitches when I work out?"

Whether you're #gymlife or just finished your first-ever fitness class, you may have noticed the side of your stomach sometimes hurts when you work out. This intense stabbing pain under the lower edge of the rib cage is called a side stitch. But, um, why does it happen and how can you stop it from derailing your workouts?

Why am I having a side stitch?
First off, know that side stitches can happen to anyone. Side stitches usually happen on the right side during cardio exercise or an activity that involves twisting motions in the torso, like basketball, cycling, horseback riding, running and swimming.

Some experts say it's the result of a cramp in the diaphragm due to your body not getting enough blood. Shallow inhaling and exhaling could also cause a side stitch, since your diaphragm is the muscle beneath your lungs.

How can I prevent this? Relieve it?
While side stitches come and go, they can be uncomfortable and frustrating when you're trying to get fit. So, having proper posture and strengthening your core with ab workouts may reduce the chance of a stitch. However, they typically go away the more you do the exercise.

It's smart to stop the activity when you first experience the pain. Then, try to press the pain down and bend over to the opposite side. Continue to walk and take deep breaths until the stitch is calm.

What should I do...before I exercise?
It's important to warmup and stretch before a workout. Always avoid a heavy meal before a workout. Staying hydrated is key, but don't sip so much that you feel overly full.

...during my workout?
Once you start your activity, find your rhythm to help you focus on even and steady breathing. Some people constrict their breath du ring exercise, which may lead to a side stitch in no time.

If you're running and don't want to stop when you feel pain (even though, you should), slow down and exhale as your opposite foot touches the ground. Lastly, take breaks and drink water in between to make sure you don't get dehydrated.

Take that, side stitch!

What do you do when you experience a side stitch? Let us know below!

We want to hear from you! Send us your weirdest body questions here (seriously, we'll answer anything!) and it just might get featured.

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by Kelly Zheng | 7/23/2018
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