Why Get Stitch When Running

When hitting the pavement for a run, the last thing anyone wants is to be sidelined by a sharp pain in the side. Stitch, also known as a side stitch, is a common ailment among runners. Personally, I’ve experienced the frustration of being in the zone during a run, only to have it disrupted by the unwelcome sensation of a side stitch. Let’s dive into the reasons why we get stitch when running and explore some tips for preventing and managing this discomfort.

Understanding Side Stitches

So, what exactly is a stitch? A side stitch is a sharp, stabbing pain felt under the lower edge of the ribcage that can occur during exercise, particularly running. While the exact cause of side stitches is not definitively known, several contributing factors have been identified. Some experts believe that the jostling of internal organs during running, like the liver and spleen, can result in irritation and subsequent pain. Shallow breathing and poor posture while running can also lead to side stitches.

Preventing and Managing Side Stitches

One of the most effective ways to prevent side stitches is by maintaining proper breathing techniques. Focusing on deep, rhythmic breathing can help reduce the occurrence of side stitches. Additionally, paying attention to posture while running can make a notable difference. Engage your core muscles and maintain good posture to minimize the risk of developing a side stitch.

Another approach to preventing side stitches is to be mindful of what you consume before a run. Eating a large meal or drinking sugary or carbonated beverages too close to your running session can increase the likelihood of experiencing a side stitch. Opt for lighter, easily digestible pre-run snacks and stay well-hydrated throughout the day to support your body during physical activity.

Dealing with Side Stitches During a Run

If a side stitch strikes during a run, don’t panic. Slowing down your pace and taking deep, deliberate breaths can often help alleviate the discomfort. Some runners find relief by gently pressing on the area of the stitch or changing their breathing pattern. Experiment with different techniques to find what works best for you.

The Importance of Listening to Your Body

While side stitches can be frustrating, it’s essential to listen to your body and recognize when it’s time to take a break. Ignoring persistent side stitches and pushing through the pain can lead to further discomfort and potential injury. Don’t hesitate to slow down, walk, or pause to stretch if needed.


In conclusion, while side stitches can be a nuisance, they are often manageable and preventable. By focusing on proper breathing, posture, and pre-run nutrition, runners can reduce the likelihood of experiencing this discomfort. If a side stitch does occur during a run, remember to remain calm, adjust your breathing, and listen to your body. With these strategies in mind, you can minimize the impact of side stitches and stay on track to enjoy your runs to the fullest.