Side stitches are a common problem for many runners, both young and old. A stitch is actually a cramp or spasm in the diaphragm muscle and occurs due to a variety of issues including, but not limited to, hydration, posture, muscle strength, strain, and fatigue. While immediately painful, there’s a few helpful tips that can help reduce pain and increase muscle strength to avoid this dreaded cramp in the future. Here are a few helpful tips!
Make sure you (or your child) is properly hydrated. Hydrated muscles react more quickly and are less prone to cramping thank dehydrated muscles. Make sure you front end your workout by drinking water or sports drink throughout the day, not just during activities or when you get thirsty.
Check your posture. A hunched back or shoulders can lead to cramping muscles. A short arm swing or turning torso can also have an effect on muscle cramping. Check and re-check your posture frequently, and aim for a 90 degree arm bend and swing at hip level. Shorter intervals of running posture technique practice will help. If working with your child, have them sprint short intervals and check and re-check their posture. As they become more body-aware, you can increase length of the interval.
Try to synchronize breathing, and work toward the classic ‘in through the nose, out through the mouth’ technique. This can take some practice to master, but by making a conscious effort to do so during slower running will lead towards making this a habit, even during harder efforts.