An abdominal side stitch is a pain that is felt on one of the sides.

Sharp pain, a dragging sensation, or a dull discomfort are all common types of pain.

In the course of lengthy athletic activity, a side stitch frequently happens.



The majority of athletes, especially runners, occasionally have a side stitch. They frequently happen in endurance competitions.

As soon as you stop working out, a side stitch should go. If you frequently experience them, consider shortening your workouts.

✅ If you experience side or abdominal pain that is unrelated to exercise or if a side stitch lasts for more than a few hours, consult your doctor.


What do side stitches mean?

Side stitches often referred to as exercise-related temporary abdominal pain (ETAP), are stomach pains that you experience on either side. On the right side, reports of it are more frequent. Cramping, a dull soreness, a dragging sensation, or a sudden, stabbing pain are all possible symptoms.

Running, basketball, or cycling are other long-duration sports that commonly cause a side stitch. About 70% of runners in a 2014 survey reported getting a side stitch in the previous year, according to the researchers. Stretching, stopping what you’re doing or taking a break to go for a walk, and being hydrated may assist with side stitch sensations.

Continue reading to find out more about side stitches and how to treat or avoid them.


Why do side stitches occur?

A side stitch’s precise origin is unknown. According to certain research, a side stitch might result from a blood flow to the muscles or diaphragm during physical exertion.

However, additional research indicates that the issue could be brought on by inflammation of the lining of the pelvic and abdominal cavities. Physical activity that involves a lot of torso movement and friction might cause this soreness.

A side stitch and shoulder tip ache are common complaints among athletes. This might be the case since irritation of the stomach lining can create localized discomfort in several places, including the shoulder’s point. However, more investigation is required to determine what is causing this extra discomfort.

A side stitch can also be brought on by a large meal or sugary sports drinks. A side stitch may be more common in younger athletes than in more seasoned competitors. However, anyone who exercises for a long time may experience side stitches.


Treatment for a side stitch

You might use the following techniques to ease your discomfort and get rid of the side stitch:

  • If you’re sprinting, stop or slow down to a walk
  • Take a deep breath in and let it out gently.
  • Reach one hand above to flex your abdominal muscles
  • Stop moving and try gently pressing your fingers into the place where you feel the stitch while bending your torso slightly forward.
  • Drink plenty of water when working out, but stay away from sugary sports drinks if they make you sick.

The majority of the time, a side stitch will go away on its own after a few minutes or after you stop exercising. However, you might need to contact a doctor if your side stitch doesn’t go away after several hours, even if you stop working out. A more serious underlying medical problem might be the cause.

If you have a fever, swelling on the side of your abdomen, and a sharp, stabbing pain, call for emergency medical attention immediately once.


Preventing side stitch

Avoid consuming large meals or consuming a lot of liquids one to three hours before working out to prevent a side stitch. Additionally, exercise the following cautions:

  • Take care of your posture. Side stitches could happen more frequently in athletes with rounded spines.
  • Before working out, stay away from foods high in fiber and fat.
  • Shorten your workout and increase the intensity in its place.
  • Don’t drink anything with sweets or any beverages before working out.
  • Gradually raise your level of fitness.
  • If you run, increase your weekly mileage by a few miles.

Consult a physiotherapist if you frequently experience side stitches. If they think your technique or posture is what’s giving you side stitches, they can evaluate them.



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