Why Do You Get Stitches Running

When I first started running, I was surprised to experience a sharp pain in my side that made it difficult to keep going. This unpleasant sensation is commonly known as stitches, and it’s a common complaint among runners. But why do we get stitches when we run?

The Cause of Stitches

Stitches are officially called Exercise-Related Transient Abdominal Pain (ETAP) and commonly occur on the right side of the abdomen. While the exact cause of stitches is not entirely clear, there are several theories that attempt to explain this phenomenon. One theory suggests that stitches are the result of reduced blood flow to the diaphragm, the muscle responsible for breathing. Another theory proposes that the jostling motion of running causes the ligaments that attach the liver to the diaphragm to pull, resulting in pain.


As a runner, I’ve tried various strategies to prevent stitches. One approach is to adjust my breathing pattern. Taking slow, deep breaths and exhaling forcefully can help reduce the occurrence of stitches. Additionally, maintaining good posture while running and gradually increasing the intensity of my workouts have also been helpful in preventing stitches. It’s also essential to avoid eating a large meal right before running, as this can exacerbate the likelihood of getting stitches.

Dealing with Stitches

Despite taking preventive measures, there have been times when I’ve still experienced stitches while running. When it happens, I’ve found that slowing down my pace and pressing on the area with the pain can provide some relief. Some runners also find it helpful to bend forward or raise their hands above their head to stretch the diaphragm and alleviate the discomfort.

Overall Impact

While stitches can be an annoyance, they are generally harmless and tend to subside once the run is over. Despite experiencing stitches from time to time, I’ve found that the joy and health benefits of running far outweigh this temporary discomfort.


In conclusion, stitches while running are a common occurrence and can be attributed to various factors such as breathing patterns, body position, and meal timing. While they may disrupt our runs, there are preventive measures and strategies to alleviate the discomfort. As a runner, I’ve come to accept stitches as a minor inconvenience in the pursuit of my passion for running.