Side stitches-cross posted from B&B (Read 67 times)


    I have been running for close to 3 years.  I have run race distances between 5k and the marathon.  I average about 40 miles per week.  I am not fast by any means.


    I have had issues with side stitches in every 5k I have ever run.  What I have finally figured out is that whether or not I get a side stitch is directly related to the speed I am running.  If I run anything under about 8:50 minute miles, I will inevitably get a side stitch.  My 5k pr is 26:01 which is about a 8:22 average.  It could be faster, but I always have to stop running or slow down considerably at about mile 2 of any 5k to dig my fist into my side to be able to continue on.


    There are a million theories on the internet about what causes side stitches and what to do about them, but I haven't been able to find anything that works.  This is getting extremely frustrating because my legs and my lungs are willing and able to go faster, but my abdomen, apparently, is not.  I was wondering if anyone has found anything that consistently works for them or knows why this only happens when I hit a certain speed.  I have no trouble with this when I run long, just when I run fast.  Eating, not eating, eating a little, eating well, eating poorly hasn't made a difference.


    Help, advice or commisuration would be greatly appreciated! 

      My amateurish guess is that is has to do with how you breathe when you are running that pace. Are your shoulders tense, is your breathing shallow and not making it all the way down to your belly? Do those questions even make sense Smile my suggestion: if you run intervals as part of your training, try using a few of those sessions to focus on your form & breathing at a relaxed-but-fast pace. Or do the same with  easy fartlek, if you're not in an interval place.


        Have you been doing core exercises?  Strengthening your stomach muscles might help.

          I too have a similar problem.  I noticed that I only get side stitches if I go out too fast.  I also noticed that if I do a proper warm up first, then I won't get side stitches.  For a 5k, I would run a mile or two right before the race, gradually speeding up toward the end of the warm up with a few sprints.  If you could afford the extra miles before the race, perhaps you give that a try.

            First, the more years you run the less likely you will experience stitches.


            Which side is the stitch?  If it's on the left, you probably have too much in your stomach. If it's on the right, it's probably related to the bouncing of your internals tugging on the diaphragm. Try exhaling as your left foot hits the ground. Not a joke. You don't always need to breathe out with that pattern, but try it when you feel a stitch coming on.


            This works for some people. It's a physics thing related to the position of the body upon impact and that the guts of the body are not symmetrical.


              Thanks for the good advice, all.  I do hate core work with a passion, but am willing to try anything, so will try to do more of that to see if it helps.


              The pain always starts on my right side and then sort of drifts to just to the right of middle if that makes sense.  I have tried to change to breathing on the left foot but am uncoordinated so it sort of becomes a comedy.  I will try to be more aware of that, though.


              I always do at least a mile warmup before a race, but have generally been doing it pretty slowly.  Next time I will try to pick it up more toward the end to sort of "warm up" my abdominal area and see if that helps.


              Thanks so much for the responses!