What To Do If You Get A Stitch While Running

As a seasoned runner, I know that there’s nothing more frustrating than being in the zone during a run, only to be suddenly halted by a sharp pain in your side. These stiches, also known as side cramps, are a common nuisance for runners, but with the right approach, they can be managed and even prevented. Here’s what I’ve learned over the years about dealing with stiches while running.

What Causes Stitches?

A stitch is a sharp, intense pain, typically on the side of the abdomen. It can range from a mild annoyance to an excruciating pain that forces you to stop running. While the exact cause of stitches is still debated, some common theories include diaphragm muscle fatigue, poor breathing techniques, dehydration, and improper nutrition.

Prevention Tips

First and foremost, proper breathing techniques can significantly reduce the likelihood of getting a stitch while running. Focus on taking deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling fully, and maintaining a steady breathing rhythm. Additionally, staying properly hydrated before, during, and after your run is crucial. Make sure to drink water and avoid consuming large meals too close to your running session.

Managing a Stitch

If you do get a stitch while running, don’t panic. Instead, slow down your pace and focus on regulating your breathing. Many runners find relief by pressing a hand against the area of the stitch and exhaling forcefully as the foot on the opposite side of the stitch strikes the ground. This can help alleviate the discomfort and allow you to continue your run.

Additional Strategies

Some runners find that adjusting their running posture or focusing on exhaling as the foot on the opposite side of the stitch strikes the ground can help relieve the pain. Experimenting with these techniques during your training runs can help you find the best method for managing stitches.

When to Seek Help

If you experience persistent or severe stitches that do not improve with these strategies, it’s important to consult a medical professional. In some cases, persistent side stitches may be a sign of an underlying medical issue that needs to be addressed.


Stitches are an unfortunate but common experience for runners. By focusing on proper breathing, hydration, and posture, you can minimize the risk of these painful interruptions to your run. Remember, every runner is different, so it may take some trial and error to find the best approach for you. Don’t get discouraged – with perseverance and the right strategies, you can overcome the challenge of stitches while running.