Stitches, whilst they are completely natural and nothing to worry about, can seriously hamper a runner’s performance, to the point that, if severe enough, he or she has to stop running.
Stitches are usually caused when the ligament that links your diaphragm to your digestive system becomes tense through intense activity and movement, putting stress through your abdomen.
Another common cause of a stitch is when gas in your bowel becomes congested and trapped, often when we have not long consumed food or drink.
The severity of a stitch depends on various reasons, including fitness levels, running technique, the quality of a warm up and how long ago we last ate or drank.
Several strategies can be carried out to help stop getting a stitch when running.
* Limiting food and drink consumption to at least 2 – 3 hours before you train can significantly reduce the chances that you will get a stitch. Particularly avoid drinks that have a high carbohydrate content, such as fizzy drinks and fruit juices.
* Whilst the consumption of food and drink should be avoided prior to a run, it is advisable to drink plenty of water to help prevent muscle cramps and stitches.
* Warming up and stretching thoroughly before a run can often mean the difference between having a stitch-free run or having to stop because of a stitch.
* Instead of starting your run with a sprint, increasing the intensity of your training session can help prevent a stitch occurring.
* Generally speaking, runners with a greater fitness level are less inclined to get a stitch than runners of lower fitness levels. Therefore persevering with training schedules and increasing your fitness will result in you being less disposed to exercise-induced stitches.
* Focusing on your breathing can also prevent a stitch from occurring. Try inhaling when your right foot hits the ground and exhaling when your lefts foot hits the ground.
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