By Melanie Chisnall
What is a stitch?
A stitch is a side pain that hits just below the ribs. It feels sharp and stabbing – sometimes painful enough to stop you in your tracks.
This annoying, but common running cramp usually happens when you just start running, or if you’re upping your regular pace or distance.
Ditch your stitch before it happens
To avoid getting a stitch you need to strengthen your diaphragm – this will help it become more resilient and less likely to cramp.
Regular yoga or Pilates are two great exercises that do this. You could also practise just 10 minutes of core-strengthening moves (like planks and donkey kicks) three times a week.
What to do when a stitch strikes
If, despite your best efforts, you feel a cramp coming on while you’re running, do this instead of stopping to a halt:
- Slow down your pace to a light jog or a walk
- Exhale as the foot on the opposite side of your stitch hits the ground
- Keep your exhales in sync with this movement until the pain decreases
- Increase your pace gradually once the pain recedes
- Don’t forget to focus on your breath