Side stitch

A side stitch is usually felt on one side of the abdomen, usually on the right side at around the region of the lower ribs. It is important to note that in most cases of abdominal pain that arises during exercise, it is referred to as side stitch. It is considered common among individuals who engage in swimming and running.

Possible causes

The exact cause of a side stitch is not known and there are several potential factors such as:

  • Eating close to an exercise routine
  • Cramping in the diaphragm due to diminished flow of blood
    Side stitch

    The pain caused by a side stitch can be alleviated by stopping, leaning forward and inhaling out while pressing on the sore area using the fingers.

  • Lack of proper warm-up

In some cases, it is indicated that the liver pulls on the ligaments that connect the liver to the diaphragm.

Management of side stitch

The pain caused by a side stitch can be alleviated by stopping, leaning forward and inhaling out while pressing on the sore area using the fingers.

Other treatment options include breathing techniques such as belly breathing and altering the foot that strikes the ground during exhalation. Most individuals breathe out as the left foot strikes the ground. In such cases, it is recommended to change it to the right foot. Additionally, the abdominal pain among athletes might include referred pain from the thoracic spine.

Preventive measures

It is sad to note that the cause of side stitch is not yet fully determined. The origin of side stitch is considered more complex than just a single factor. Luckily, there are preventive measures that can be considered:

  • If the individual has a history of side stitch, note down the foods and beverages consumed before workout is started. Allowing more time after eating before a workout can prevent a side stitch.
  • In studies conducted, stretching the stomach, deep breathing and contracting the abdominal muscles during forward bending can alleviate a side stitch.
  • As part of long-term treatment, it is recommended to include mobilization exercises for the spine. The doctor might suggest stretching and strengthening exercises for the back, abdomen and hip flexors.
  • If the individual has chronic side stitch, it is best to consult a physical therapist to carefully assess the spine for any dysfunction that aggravates the side stitch.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on side stitch is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage side stitch by taking a standard first aid course with Winnipeg First Aid.

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