1

Side stitches due to breathing? (Read 134 times)

xbotak


    Hi, I am entering the military soon and I have to take a fitness test which includes a 1.5 mile run. It is my weakest station because of my side stitches problems that occur quite frequently. I am thinking my side stitches strikes me because of irregular breathing. But I can't fix my breathing as I have difficulty breathing in through my nose (can't feel any air going into my lungs) and can only breathe through my mouth and out from my mouth which some people says causes the stitch and dehydrates you faster. How can I get past this side stitches barrier? I have 2 weeks left before my test and I don't want to have another attack on that day.

    In desperate need of advice, thanks!

     

      When I first started running in high school I had side stitches a lot, but they stopped occurring with regular running. I wouldn't say that breathing in your mouth is the problem. I think most people run with their mouths gaped open and just try to get as much air as possible. There are breathing techniques to get rid of side stitches once you get them, but that involves breathing out in relation to when your feet are hitting the ground depending on which side your stitch is on. I believe the reasoning behind that is that you are constricting your abdomen muscles to absorb some of the impact of your foot strike when you breathe out.

       

      I would just try to get out there and keep running a lot until your test. Also, on test day don't eat anywhere close to your run and don't drink a bunch of water right before you start. If I run with a bunch of food or water in my stomach, it's a guaranteed side stitch at some point. Give yourself plenty of time to digest the last meal, 3-4 hours. Eat light. Don't eat anything heavy the night before either. Try to just go with pasta since it digests quickly. If it still happens and breathing with your foot strikes doesn't work, then I would just jam your fingers into where it hurts and push on it. That can help temporarily. You'll be done the run before you know it. I would say slow down, but that probably isn't an option. Overall I still say just keep running regularly and you won't get them as much if at all eventually.

      Runner's High® - Endurance Nutrition

      www.runnershighnutrition.com


      Not dead. Yet.

        Like Vin mentioned be cognizant of what you ingest before your runs.  It took me a while, but I finally figured out that drinking cold water before my runs was causing the side stitches.  Room temp water was fine...it was the cold causing the problem.  Once you get them, you can definitely get rid of them in short order by changing your breathing pattern.  I don't have the patience to count left or right, so I just speed it up intentionally until they go away.  Something like two breaths for every one.

        How can we know our limits if we don't test them?

          Many cases of "side stitch" is caused by diaphragm being over-used.  Happens to a starting runner because you'll be sucking oxygen a lot and breathing a lot.  Diaphragm is a muscle, just like your arms and legs, and, when over-worked, gets tired.  So it's not so much of "irregular" breathing per se but more like hard breathing.  The only way to overcome it is to "steadily" work on breathing.  I emphasize "steadily" because extra over-working (i.e., more faster running) is not the way to go about.  You might notice many people here at RA suggest to run a lot and run nice and easily.  Your diaphragm would develop with a lot of work, not a very hard work in a short period of time--which many people wish for.  Chances are, you are trying to run 1.5 mile within a certain target time and you are probably trying to run that speed day in and day out; which is exactly what I am suggesting against.  You would need to settle down at STEADY pace for a long period of time.  Only THEN you can insert some faster runs to get yourself ready for the target pace.  So, unfortunately, there's no quick fix or short-cut.

           

          Whether you breathe through your nose or mouth has very little to do with it--you'd still need a lot of oxygen so your body would breathe through ears if it can.  Restricting to breathe through your nose or mouth would not only help but will most likely slow you down because of the unnatural restriction.  Dehydration has more to do with sweating; not breathing or getting a stitch.

          Hi, I am entering the military soon and I have to take a fitness test which includes a 1.5 mile run. It is my weakest station because of my side stitches problems that occur quite frequently. I am thinking my side stitches strikes me because of irregular breathing. But I can't fix my breathing as I have difficulty breathing in through my nose (can't feel any air going into my lungs) and can only breathe through my mouth and out from my mouth which some people says causes the stitch and dehydrates you faster. How can I get past this side stitches barrier? I have 2 weeks left before my test and I don't want to have another attack on that day.

          In desperate need of advice, thanks!

           

            Yes, rapid breathing is a main cause of side stitches.  Try not to start too hard (pace yourself). Also, don't worry about breathing through your mouth.  It's not going to "dry you out" and you're not going to get seriously dehydrated on a 1.5 mile run anyway.  Lack of oxygen is a bigger problem.  Just try to stat relaxed and breathe as best as you can.  Good luck

            xbotak


              When I first started running in high school I had side stitches a lot, but they stopped occurring with regular running. I wouldn't say that breathing in your mouth is the problem. I think most people run with their mouths gaped open and just try to get as much air as possible. There are breathing techniques to get rid of side stitches once you get them, but that involves breathing out in relation to when your feet are hitting the ground depending on which side your stitch is on. I believe the reasoning behind that is that you are constricting your abdomen muscles to absorb some of the impact of your foot strike when you breathe out.

               

              I would just try to get out there and keep running a lot until your test. Also, on test day don't eat anywhere close to your run and don't drink a bunch of water right before you start. If I run with a bunch of food or water in my stomach, it's a guaranteed side stitch at some point. Give yourself plenty of time to digest the last meal, 3-4 hours. Eat light. Don't eat anything heavy the night before either. Try to just go with pasta since it digests quickly. If it still happens and breathing with your foot strikes doesn't work, then I would just jam your fingers into where it hurts and push on it. That can help temporarily. You'll be done the run before you know it. I would say slow down, but that probably isn't an option. Overall I still say just keep running regularly and you won't get them as much if at all eventually.

              Regular running like everyday or on alternate days? So breathing in and out through your mouth is not a concern for stitches? If so, then that is good to hear! I am not sure if I have enough time to recover from a stitch when it hits in a middle of a run because I have to run 1.5 miles in under 11.50minutes (minimum passing time) and when the stitch hits I will have to slow down really bad almost to walking speed which is not a good thing since the timer will keep going.

               

              I agree with you. I am going to start running but not sure if I should do it everyday or on alternate days until my test day. On my previous test day, I had to run at 7.30am. I woke up at 4am to eat my breakfast (peanut butter with bread, banana and a cup of hot milo) and I still got hit with stitches when I ran but it might probably be because I drank a cup of water 15minutes before. I felt really thirsty and my lips were cracking back then. Should I still drink water if I feel thirsty and my lips are all dried up?

               

              I sure hope I don't get hit with another stitch on my next test day. Prevention is the best cure as they say. I will start experimenting with my breathing during runs to see if it's really the problem behind my stitches. Thanks for the advice!

               

              Like Vin mentioned be cognizant of what you ingest before your runs.  It took me a while, but I finally figured out that drinking cold water before my runs was causing the side stitches.  Room temp water was fine...it was the cold causing the problem.  Once you get them, you can definitely get rid of them in short order by changing your breathing pattern.  I don't have the patience to count left or right, so I just speed it up intentionally until they go away.  Something like two breaths for every one.

              I did drink a small cup of water 15minutes before on my previous test and that hit me with me a stitch although I am not entirely sure. I find it harder to breathe when I actually try and change my breathing pattern.

               

              Many cases of "side stitch" is caused by diaphragm being over-used.  Happens to a starting runner because you'll be sucking oxygen a lot and breathing a lot.  Diaphragm is a muscle, just like your arms and legs, and, when over-worked, gets tired.  So it's not so much of "irregular" breathing per se but more like hard breathing.  The only way to overcome it is to "steadily" work on breathing.  I emphasize "steadily" because extra over-working (i.e., more faster running) is not the way to go about.  You might notice many people here at RA suggest to run a lot and run nice and easily.  Your diaphragm would develop with a lot of work, not a very hard work in a short period of time--which many people wish for.  Chances are, you are trying to run 1.5 mile within a certain target time and you are probably trying to run that speed day in and day out; which is exactly what I am suggesting against.  You would need to settle down at STEADY pace for a long period of time.  Only THEN you can insert some faster runs to get yourself ready for the target pace.  So, unfortunately, there's no quick fix or short-cut.

               

              Whether you breathe through your nose or mouth has very little to do with it--you'd still need a lot of oxygen so your body would breathe through ears if it can.  Restricting to breathe through your nose or mouth would not only help but will most likely slow you down because of the unnatural restriction.  Dehydration has more to do with sweating; not breathing or getting a stitch.

              Thanks for the clear explanation of a side stitch. Yes, I am trying to run 1.5 mile in under 11.50 minutes and I am doing exactly what you are against. But I only have 2 weeks until my next test, what would you suggest me to do? I have to hit at least 1.50mins per lap for a total of 6 laps around the stadium to pass.

               

              Yes, rapid breathing is a main cause of side stitches.  Try not to start too hard (pace yourself). Also, don't worry about breathing through your mouth.  It's not going to "dry you out" and you're not going to get seriously dehydrated on a 1.5 mile run anyway.  Lack of oxygen is a bigger problem.  Just try to stat relaxed and breathe as best as you can.  Good luck

               

              How do you reckon I should tackle this 1.5mile? I have to run 6 laps around a stadium at around 1.50mins per lap. Should I start out strong or slow? Short or long strides?  I need more tips on how to clear this without any issue. Thanks, I will need it Smile.


              flatland mountaineer

                This sounds weird but try it. Breathe out deeply when you left foot strikes the ground. If you are running fast maybe every other time it hits the ground.

                The whole world said I shoulda used red but it looked good to Charlene in John Deere Green!!

                Support Ethanol, drink the best, burn the rest.

                Run for fun? What the hell kind of recreation is that?  quote from Back to the Fut III

                  Also make sure you're not arching your back.

                  Runners run.

                    But I only have 2 weeks until my next test, what would you suggest me to do? I have to hit at least 1.50mins per lap for a total of 6 laps around the stadium to pass.

                     

                    Do as Nobby recommends, and keep all your practice runs well under side-stitch effort.  Do them every day if possible, and maybe somewhat more than 1.5 miles.  Then on test day, don't eat too much to close to test time, and when you run it, stay relaxed but keep your strides quick.  And, don't over-think it; just do it. Smile  You can do it!  Let us know how it goes.

                    Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject.

                    xbotak


                      This sounds weird but try it. Breathe out deeply when you left foot strikes the ground. If you are running fast maybe every other time it hits the ground.

                      I will try. I notice that it gets harder for me to concentrate on my breathing like controlling my breathing when my left foot hits the ground etc. But I will still try and see how it goes.

                       

                      Also make sure you're not arching your back.

                      Always had my back straight but not sure if that's fine or should I be leaning forward a little?

                       

                       

                      Do as Nobby recommends, and keep all your practice runs well under side-stitch effort.  Do them every day if possible, and maybe somewhat more than 1.5 miles.  Then on test day, don't eat too much to close to test time, and when you run it, stay relaxed but keep your strides quick.  And, don't over-think it; just do it. Smile  You can do it!  Let us know how it goes.

                      I will. Every day sounds good but not sure if my body can handle it.  Is peanut butter with bread, a banana and a cup of hot milo OK for my breakfast 3 hours before my run? I gotta eat at 4 am and run at 7.30 am. Thanks for the encouragement man. This is my last chance to try it! Gotta pass it!!

                        I will. Every day sounds good but not sure if my body can handle it.  Is peanut butter with bread, a banana and a cup of hot milo OK for my breakfast 3 hours before my run? I gotta eat at 4 am and run at 7.30 am. Thanks for the encouragement man. This is my last chance to try it! Gotta pass it!!

                         

                        Well, the last bit of advice is to listen to your body.  It will tell you whether you can run every day, or if you're running too much or too fast.  Likewise with the eating.  If you have three hours between eating and running, I would think you'd be okay.  Maybe some juice a half hour before your run will help keep your blood sugar up, but don't do anything significantly different than your training.

                        Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject.

                        Song


                          Here's what works for me:

                           

                          2-2 breathing: Assuming your stitch is on the right side, breathe out when the left foot strikes the ground, breathe in the next time the left foot strikes the ground. If your cadence is too low, you may find that you're not sucking enough air.

                           

                          Stay hydrated. I train in the tropics. If I don't drink enough before I run, I almost always get a stitch. Drinking some and a few minutes of slow running usually helps.

                           

                          When breathing out, make a small opening with the mouth so that it takes more effort to blow out. Some describe it as blowing a balloon.

                           

                          Stretch. When running, stretch the affected side. Probably not useful during the test itself.

                           

                          Food: what you eat before the test probably doesn't help much (for purposes of providing you energy for the run)  because 2.4km is quite short. But it might be a problem if I eat too near to a run.

                           

                          When I was in high school I ran a 2.4km test so hard that my stitches persisted for 3 weeks after the run. The doctor said I strained my diaphragm.

                           

                          Hope that helps. Tell us how the test goes.

                           

                           

                          ~Song

                            Regular running like everyday or on alternate days? So breathing in and out through your mouth is not a concern for stitches? If so, then that is good to hear! I am not sure if I have enough time to recover from a stitch when it hits in a middle of a run because I have to run 1.5 miles in under 11.50minutes (minimum passing time) and when the stitch hits I will have to slow down really bad almost to walking speed which is not a good thing since the timer will keep going.

                             

                            I agree with you. I am going to start running but not sure if I should do it everyday or on alternate days until my test day. On my previous test day, I had to run at 7.30am. I woke up at 4am to eat my breakfast (peanut butter with bread, banana and a cup of hot milo) and I still got hit with stitches when I ran but it might probably be because I drank a cup of water 15minutes before. I felt really thirsty and my lips were cracking back then. Should I still drink water if I feel thirsty and my lips are all dried up?

                             

                            I sure hope I don't get hit with another stitch on my next test day. Prevention is the best cure as they say. I will start experimenting with my breathing during runs to see if it's really the problem behind my stitches. Thanks for the advice!

                             

                            I did drink a small cup of water 15minutes before on my previous test and that hit me with me a stitch although I am not entirely sure. I find it harder to breathe when I actually try and change my breathing pattern.

                             

                            Thanks for the clear explanation of a side stitch. Yes, I am trying to run 1.5 mile in under 11.50 minutes and I am doing exactly what you are against. But I only have 2 weeks until my next test, what would you suggest me to do? I have to hit at least 1.50mins per lap for a total of 6 laps around the stadium to pass.

                             

                             

                            How do you reckon I should tackle this 1.5mile? I have to run 6 laps around a stadium at around 1.50mins per lap. Should I start out strong or slow? Short or long strides?  I need more tips on how to clear this without any issue. Thanks, I will need it Smile.

                             

                            Try to run even pace.  You should feel relaxed at first and work slightly harder each lap.  You'll need to work harder just to maintain the same pace as you get tired.  Don't worry about starting too slow. You won't.  You'll be plenty spent at the finish.  You're not going to finish and wish you had started faster.

                            xbotak


                               

                              Well, the last bit of advice is to listen to your body.  It will tell you whether you can run every day, or if you're running too much or too fast.  Likewise with the eating.  If you have three hours between eating and running, I would think you'd be okay.  Maybe some juice a half hour before your run will help keep your blood sugar up, but don't do anything significantly different than your training.

                               

                              I kind of try and force myself to run even if my leg hurts (muscle ache) because I only have 2 weeks left but I am scared that if I push myself too hard it may end up doing more harm than good. Eating 3 hours before seems to work for me the other time but I am probably not gonna touch any liquid since I got hit by a stitch the other time I drank a cup of water 15 minutes before a run. Once bitten twice shy Big grin!

                               

                               

                              Here's what works for me:

                               

                              2-2 breathing: Assuming your stitch is on the right side, breathe out when the left foot strikes the ground, breathe in the next time the left foot strikes the ground. If your cadence is too low, you may find that you're not sucking enough air.

                               

                              Stay hydrated. I train in the tropics. If I don't drink enough before I run, I almost always get a stitch. Drinking some and a few minutes of slow running usually helps.

                               

                              When breathing out, make a small opening with the mouth so that it takes more effort to blow out. Some describe it as blowing a balloon.

                               

                              Stretch. When running, stretch the affected side. Probably not useful during the test itself.

                               

                              Food: what you eat before the test probably doesn't help much (for purposes of providing you energy for the run)  because 2.4km is quite short. But it might be a problem if I eat too near to a run.

                               

                              When I was in high school I ran a 2.4km test so hard that my stitches persisted for 3 weeks after the run. The doctor said I strained my diaphragm.

                               

                              Hope that helps. Tell us how the test goes.

                               

                               

                              ~Song

                              That breathing technique is only when the stitch hits? TBH, I don't really notice my breathing pattern during runs mainly because all that's in my mind is to RUN, but of course, that is impossible when I get a side stitch.

                               

                              How much water would you suggest I should drink like 3 hours before a run? Having trouble finding the right amount. It's either too much or too little.

                               

                              I get what ya mean by that. Will try it!

                               

                              Yeah, not gonna have enough time to do it because the timer won't stop running.

                               

                              I wouldn't mind having a stitch for 3 weeks if it allows me to pass my test because passing it basically means I can go in 2 months later. Failing the test means you'd have to go in 2 months earlier to go through what we call a PTP (Physical Training Phase), all you do every day for 2 months is PT which sucks for me. Will update everyone how it goes and hopefully everything goes smoothly and not a single stitch Smile!

                               

                               

                              Try to run even pace.  You should feel relaxed at first and work slightly harder each lap.  You'll need to work harder just to maintain the same pace as you get tired.  Don't worry about starting too slow. You won't.  You'll be plenty spent at the finish.  You're not going to finish and wish you had started faster.

                               

                              I find it hard to run at a slow pace. For some reasons my knees will keep banging into each other if I run at slow paces. I usually don't keep a steady/even pace throughout the run. It's steady>slow>fast for me but I will work on that and try to make it steady 1min50secs for each lap and then sprint for the last lap. Thanks for the advice!

                              ba-YRT


                                I've run for years, and still get side stitches occasionally.  I skimmed the other posts, but did anyone mention sit ups/ core exercises?  Pete McGill's website used to have a nice article on avoiding stitches through regular core exercises, but I think they've taken the blog article down.  Can't hurt, but probably won't help you right now.

                                 

                                If all the other breathing technique voodoo doesn't work for you, I have one other thing you might try.  I raise my arm (same side as the stitch) over my head while I'm running & trying to breathe in a relaxed, regular fashion.  Yes, I look like a bigger fool than normal.  But I found it will make it go away pretty quick.  Sometimes it happens on the treadmill, and I'll just put my hand on my shoulder & raise my elbow up to shoulder height to draw less attention... and that works about as well.

                                 

                                I offer no valid reason why that works, but it does for me.  It's something you can try that doesn't require stopping your run.

                                 

                                Good luck!

                                1