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Includes Expert Content
Running Issues
VT802 posted:
So I have a question for all you runners out there. I just started running again a few weeks ago and have been experiencing an interesting problem. Its most noticeable when Im doing very hard hill sprints, but still shows up when I go jogging. Toward the end of the workout and for about 10-20 mins after I feel an intense pain in my lower left side, just above the hip bone. The best way to describe the feeling is the very real and intense sensation of something falling out. At its worst I feel like I have to hold that "something" in. Have no idea what is wrong, wondering if anyone knew anything about it. Thanks
Rich Weil, MEd, CDE responded:
You may be having a stitch, although usually they are between the ribs. Stitches are sharp pains like cramps that occur during exercise (particularly running like you are experiencing). Sometimes they can get so bad that a runner has to stop and wait it out. There is not a good explanation for why they occur, and there is not a very good cure either. Some people believe it has to do with a small area of ischemia where blood and oxygen get cut off to a small area of muscle which leads to a spasm or cramp. Things you can do when they occur is massage the area, stretch, slow down the exercise, take deep breaths into your belly, or stop exercising. You'll have to experiment and see what works best. You may also want to start with a slow warmup run for 4-5 minutes, followed by a stretch of the upper body, and then go on and start playing, and try not to increase the speed too quickly. They are not dangerous, just painful, so you can continue to run if you like and try some of the above interventions when they occur. If they continue then you might want to check it out with your doctor. Post back and let us know if you figure out if it's a stitch.

From Runner's World Magazine
Q & A
Do you have a trick for preventing side stitches?

"I've found a really good stretch to help avoid this. Cross your arms loosely forearm to forearm directly over your head. Then straighten your elbows and stretch your arms upwards. Try to feel an involuntary movement of the diaphragm and a consequent tiny draw of air into the chest." - Dan Hughes

"Try switching which foot you breath on, or try two strides exhale, three strides inhale. Side stitches are breathing and motion related, so change up on how you breathe relative to how your feet strike the ground." - Karl Tebeau

"At the first sign, pinch the soft tissue between the thumb and the index finger on the same side as the stitch with the opposite hand and massage vigorously for a few seconds. Repeat this procedure a few times. The stitch should resolve in less than a minute." - Bill Longstreth

"When I feel a stitch coming on I immediately alter my breathing and over-emphasize a full breathe intake. I imagining that the breath is actually filling the stomach as well as the lungs. By over-emphasizing the breath and extending the stomach it only takes a minute or so to
clear the stitch." -Wayne

Take care,

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