Just when you think you’ve gotten into the swing of things and are easing nicely into your workout, it happens – the dreaded side stitch. You stop in your tracks, your momentum broken, clutching at your side as a sharp, stabbing pain puts you off from doing any further activity. Indeed, side stitches are, quite literally, a pain. Experts are not exactly sure of the why of it, but, hey, it happens. And all you can really do is ride it out until it passes. Or you can take certain measures to prevent it from ever happening in the first place. Here’s how:
1. Mind your pre-workout consumption.
There are numerous theories being flouted about on the real cause of side stitches, and one of the strongest ones has a lot to do with what you eat prior to your workout.
In a nutshell, fatty food and those high in fiber and sugar take more time and effort to digest. While this does not necessarily mean that they are bad for you, they can have some negative effects when consumed much too close to your workout schedule. So when consumed less than two hours prior to physical activity, the risk of problems like stitches occurring are increased.
It is, therefore, a good idea to give yourself ample time to digest your food. And if you must consume something pre-workout, eat lightly and find a pre-exercise snack that works for you.
2. Take time to warm up.
Plunging straight into rigorous exercise will save you time, but this does not necessarily mean that it is a good idea. As a matter of fact, it is a very bad idea for many reasons, including an increase in the likelihood of developing a side stitch. Doing so will create irregular and erratic breathing patterns, which would almost surely have you doubled up in pain from a side stitch in no time – as well as encourage a multitude of other possible injuries to boot.
It is, therefore, a great idea to take the time to engage in a few minutes of brisk walking and just gradually easing into your workout routine. Not only will doing so decrease the risk of developing a side stitch, but the quality of your workout will increase, as well.
3. Stretch while you are at it, too.
A side stitch will literally cramp your style, so avoid it by taking the time to stretch. Doing so will also help you prevent injury. A great way to do this is by incorporating a good stretch into your warmup routine, so you can cover all the bases.
4. Mind your breathing.
Your diaphragm is the muscle that expands your lungs, allowing you to breathe. And putting too much strain on this muscle will increase the risk of the dreaded side stitch.
It is, therefore, a very good idea to regulate your breathing as you go about your workout. Proper breathing will help you avoid a myriad of exercise-related problems, including the side stitch. In fact, we will even go as far to say that this may be your best defense against cramps – including side stitches.