How Do I Get Rid Of Side Stitches When Running

Side stitches are a common complaint among runners, including myself. These sharp pains in the side can be a real nuisance and even derail a good run. Over the years, I’ve experimented with various methods to prevent and alleviate side stitches, and I’m excited to share what I’ve learned.

Understanding Side Stitches

Side stitches, also known as exercise-related transient abdominal pain (ETAP), are cramping or stabbing pains in the abdomen. They often occur just below the ribs and are more common on the right side. While the exact cause is not entirely clear, some theories point to diaphragm muscle spasms, poor breathing techniques, or irritation of the ligaments that support the diaphragm.

Preventing Side Stitches

First and foremost, proper hydration is key. Dehydration can lead to muscle cramps, including those in the diaphragm. It’s essential to drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day, especially before a run. Additionally, avoiding large meals or high-fiber foods right before running can help reduce the likelihood of experiencing side stitches. Personally, I’ve found that allowing at least 1-2 hours for digestion before running makes a remarkable difference.

Techniques During a Run

While running, paying attention to breathing patterns can be extremely beneficial. Shallow breathing, commonly seen in new runners or during high-intensity workouts, can contribute to side stitches. I’ve adapted my breathing to inhale for two steps and exhale for two steps, which has helped regulate my breathing and reduce the occurrence of side stitches.

Alleviating Side Stitches

If a side stitch does strike during a run, it’s essential to slow down and focus on deep breathing. I’ve personally found that pressing on the area of the stitch while taking slow, deep breaths can help to ease the pain. Additionally, some runners find relief by gently massaging the area or changing their posture while running.

Post-Run Practices

Cooling down properly and stretching after a run can also play a role in preventing side stitches in future runs. I make it a point to incorporate stretches that target the diaphragm and core muscles to keep them flexible and less prone to cramping.


Dealing with side stitches can be frustrating, but by staying mindful of hydration, nutrition, breathing, and post-run practices, it’s possible to reduce their frequency and severity. As with most aspects of running, finding what works best for you may involve some trial and error, so don’t be discouraged if it takes time to identify the most effective strategies to prevent and alleviate side stitches.