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Should You Exercise With A Stitch?

Should You Exercise With A Stitch?

Should You Exercise With A Stitch?
Should You Exercise With A Stitch?

Have ever had a stitch (also known as a side-stitch) during exercise? A pain in your side as you run or jump? Yep, they’re pretty annoying. 

I’ve had a few girls reach out wanting to know whether they should exercise with a stitch. Is it bad to run with a stitch or just uncomfortable? Let me explain it to you. 

What is a stitch?

Believe it or not, the cause of a stitch isn’t completely understood. Medically known as exercise-related transient abdominal pain (ETAP), there are a number of theories when it comes to how stitches start. Some health professionals believe it could be a cramp in the diaphragm or a spasm in the oblique muscle. Another theory is it could be the result of irritation to the membrane (known as the parietal peritoneum) that lines the abdominal wall and helps to support your organs. 

Basically, a stitch is a sign that your body is under stress when you are exercising. 

Is it safe to exercise with a side-stitch? 

The good news is, a stitch is generally pretty harmless. It does cause some discomfort and you may need to slow down, or even stop training completely while it goes away. 

Another good thing is many people find stitches are less common as general fitness increases.

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What you can do to reduce stitches

Different things may work for different people, but these suggestions are a great place to start. 

Before you start exercising:

  • Try not to eat large meals before exercise. Instead, you might want to have a smaller meal and a post-workout snack. 

  • Make sure you’re staying hydrated, and try sipping water (instead of guzzling it) during a workout.  

  • Avoid sugary drinks (including fruit juices) before and during exercise. 

  • Warm up before you start to exercise. 


Once you’ve started exercising:

  • Don’t forget to breathe! Taking full breaths while exercising gives your body the oxygen it needs, plus it can help stretch your diaphragm.

  • Slow down or stop when you get a stitch and take some deep breaths until the pain goes away. 

  • Stretch out the affected area or stop and bend forward while you tighten your abs.
  • 
Take your rest breaks, especially during a HIIT workout, and when you are starting out. 


Another tip is to do more core exercises! This can help to minimise the irritation to the parietal peritoneum (mentioned above). 

I hope now you understand a little bit more about stitches and what to do when you get one. Remember, if you get stitches a lot and it is impacting your training, it might be good to chat with your healthcare professional. 

Love, Kayla xx

* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.

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