Surprisingly, the origin of this universal pain is not yet well understood. Shoes on your feet, stopwatch running, jogging starts well. But after a few minutes, a sudden pain is felt in the abdomen: it’s a stitch in the side, which sometimes forces you to stop running. Surprisingly, this phenomenon is not yet well understood. But specialists agree on one thing at least: an occasional stitch in the side is no sign of an underlying disease. What exactly do we know about this phenomenon? How can we avoid it?
Poorly understood mechanisms
There is no precise definition of a side point – but everyone can recognize it. This pain, which is often accompanied by respiratory discomfort, usually disappears within minutes of stopping the effort. It does not lead to complications. The only possible risk is to confuse it with a real problem (appendicitis, peritonitis, myocardial infarction…). In a cardiovascular problem, for example, the pain doesn’t go away in a few minutes. And symptoms other than pain are added, such as a general malaise.
What is the cause of the pain? “No study has ever been able to answer this question. There are, however, several hypotheses. Some say that the stitch is the result of a cramp or lack of blood supply to the diaphragm. Except that side stitches usually appear quickly, without necessarily sustained effort. A cramp or a lack of blood supply is unlikely in these conditions. Not very convincing, therefore.
Adapting your breathing
So, how do you avoid the stitch? First, you have to learn how to breathe properly. If you breathe poorly, you will initiate bad movements of the diaphragm, which could increase the friction of the peritoneal folds. That’s why children are more concerned. Their breathing is often anarchic during physical exertion. On the other hand, experienced athletes manage their breathing correctly and are therefore spared the side stitches.
If the pain does occur, however, the focus should be on breathing. Bending your chest forward can also help. Stretching the muscles on the side of the pain, or pressing on the area also sometimes alleviates the symptom. But often, slowing down or stopping can be enough. And if you decide to start again, you have to do it gradually.