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Ace the mile (and skip the stitch)

You keep tryin’ to get into running, but before you can really get going, your bod stops ya short with a stitch in your side. Don’t worry – if you keep workin’ on your fitness, you’ll stop running into as many stitches. But ‘til then, here’s how to avoid those pesky pains and why they’re so common:


The Source of Stitches

Stitches in your side happen when your diaphragm isn’t getting enough blood and oxygen. While running, your legs are pushing up on your abs, which then squish your diaphragm. And your lungs are workin’ like crazy, so they’re pushin’ down on your diaphragm. With pressure from all sides, that blood and oxygen just can’t get through, and then your muscles start hurting ‘cause their cells can’t do their jobs.


Stop ‘Em Before They Start

There are a few good prevention techniques that can cut down on the frequency of your side stitches. First, don’t eat a bunch of fatty, heavy food during the 2 hours leading up to your run. Next, make sure that you’re staying hydrated throughout the day and that you’re warmed up before your imaginary starting gun goes off. You can also try this move to strengthen your diaphragm: Lay down on a bench with your back pressed flat against it. Hold a dumbbell with both hands, and slowly raise it over your head. Keep going ‘til your back starts to lift off the bench. Then press your back down and hold it there while you take four deep breaths. Return the dumbbell to your lap, and repeat the entire exercise five times.


Too Late!

The stitch has struck, and you can’t take another step. That’s okay – stop running, and breathe deeply a few times. Then press two fingers in and slightly up on the spot that hurts for about 10 seconds. Do that a few times ‘til the pain passes. You can also try some side stretches to open up your diaphragm. Lift your right arm over your head, and bend to your left as far as is comfortable. Then do the same on the opposite side. Most importantly, don’t sprint off the second your stitch passes ‘cause it’ll be waiting for you right around the next corner. So when you restart, take it slow and build back up to a fast pace.


Do you have a sports secret that helps you avoid or treat side stitches? Spill!

BY CARRIE RUPPERT ON 9/4/2012 3:31:00 PM


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