Runners at one point or another get the dreaded side stitches. The sharp pain is normally below the rib cage on the right side of the belly. A side stitch is common in distance runners and usually they need to slow down or even stop to eliminate the pain.
In the past there was no real cause for this uncomfortable cramp. Recently though, researches believe the side stitch is caused by the stretching of ligaments from the diaphragm to the liver. Most runners usually breathe out every three to four steps depending on their running gait and speed. Runners who exhale when their right foot strikes the ground are more apt to receive side stitches.
If you receive a stitch while you are running, stop immediately and place your hand on the right side of the stomach and push up and move the liver slightly. Make sure you breathe in and out evenly while you are pushing up. Do this until the pain is gone and you feel comfortable to run.
Here are a few tips to help you prevent side stitches.
1. To prevent a side cramp, take deep breaths evenly while running and try to breathe out when your left foot hits the ground.
2. Eat a light meal three or four hours before you run. This will help with having nothing in your stomach and decreasing the chances of a stitch.
3. Stretching the core is also important. Raise your right arm up and lean toward the left side for 15 to 20 seconds. Then stretch the other side doing the same exercise.
4. Make sure you hydrate well before the race. Take in your last drink about an hour before you run. Making sure you hydrate before you run will help prevent cramps.
5. Warm up properly before you run. Make sure you jog lightly for a mile before you run a tempo run or a race.