This site looks healthier in portrait mode.

Its real name is “exercise-related transient abdominal pain” (ETAP) and most of us have experienced it. But do you know what causes those running stitches?

There’s no conclusive evidence for the cause of that painful side stitch we sometimes get while exercising, but there are three main theories.

First, many researchers believe that it relates to what we drink beforehand. The first side stitch theory suggests that consuming sugary drinks (like fruit juice) or ones high in carbohydrates before a sprint could contribute to the sharp pain in your abdomen. So saving that sports drink for after your next jaunt may help stave off the stitch.

Running from Erick Flores Garnelo on Vimeo.

The pain also seems to be most common among runners and swimmers as a result of faster breathing. Therefore, another theory is based on spasms in the diaphragm that occur as a result of being under too much stress from motion and breathing. What to do? Stretching your torso beforehand and taking deeper breaths when you feel signs of a stitch may help alleviate the pain.

Still another theory suggests that the curvature of the spine might be what is putting you in stitches. People with kyphosis, a curvature of the upper spine, suffer more side stitches than those without this condition. Why? Experts say it is because of a nerve that runs from the spine to the diaphragm that is jolted and rotated when we run, swim, or ride a horse – three types of athletes most affected by stitches because of their spines.

Either way, if you’re concerned about pain, please click here to see a doctor!

Image: Running, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Rich Orris’s photostream.

No comments yet, be the first?

Close comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You might also like