Have you ever had upper abdominal pain while running? Well, you might experience an athlete’s stitch or a stitch in the side. A stitch in the side, known in medicine as exercise-induced transient abdominal pain (ETAP), can be one of the things that bother you when you exercise. To avoid conditions that lead to stomach pain when playing this sport, there are several methods you can use.

What Causes Stitches During Exercise?

Side stitch often referred to as side stitch for short, is a pain felt on the right or left side of the body, just along the junction between the ribs and upper abdomen. Abdominal pain, which usually occurs during this exercise, can be painful, like stabbing or cramping.

The cause of the side stitch is not known for certain. However, several studies state that this condition can occur when the lining of the abdominal and pelvic cavities becomes irritated due to excessive friction on the torso. Other studies have also shown that the movement of blood to the diaphragm during exercise can cause this condition.

Upper abdominal pain is common in people who exercise through repetitive trunk or upper body movements, such as B. running, swimming, and cycling. A study in the journal Sports Medicine states that about 70% of runners can get stitches. This condition is made worse if you eat sometime before training.


Causes of abdominal cramps when running

Abdominal pain and cramps, also known as a caliber, occur when your stomach shakes after eating or drinking while running or doing other activities. Abdominal cramps when running suddenly feel very annoying and make you lose your mood for sports. Below are some common things that can make you sick while running.


  1. Incorrect breathing technique

How you breathe can affect your overall athletic performance. If you use the wrong breathing technique, your body will try to warn you of pain and cramps on one side of your abdomen.

Generally, this condition occurs when you only breathe shallowly while running and don’t use deep breathing techniques. The reduced oxygen uptake of the muscle tissue around the abdomen causes cramps when running.


  1. Dehydration while running

You need to limit your fluid intake before a workout, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it at all. When you exercise, the body redirects blood flow from the abdomen to the muscles to deliver more oxygen.

The volume of blood going to the digestive system decreases and gets worse when you’re dehydrated. Being dehydrated while running can lead to post-workout cramps, vomiting, and even diarrhea.


  1. Tired abs

Cramps that cause abdominal pain when running are very common in runners who cover long distances, such as B. marathon runners, or if you overexert yourself. The reason is that when running, the body not only relies on the leg and thigh muscles but also uses the abdominal muscles and upper body.

The abdominal muscles provide stability, sustaining movement and keeping the body upright. When you feel tired, especially in your stomach or abdominal muscles, it can cause abdominal cramps, pain, and even a burning sensation.


  1. Diseases of the digestive system

Having just eaten a meal before running can cause stomach cramps and pain. Some studies even state that running is more likely to cause indigestion than other forms of exercise, such as swimming and cycling.

This condition is also affected by a full stomach, which makes it difficult for you to breathe while exercising. Therefore, the American Council on Exercise recommends consuming easily digestible carbohydrates such as muesli, oatmeal, or fruit 30 minutes before your workout.


  1. Stomach pressure

Stomach pressure can also cause pain when running because running can compress stomach contents. The stomach can also collide with other organs, which then stretches the abdominal connective tissue and causes pain.

In severe cases, it can also trigger a hernia. A hernia is a condition where all three organs in the body protrude through the muscle wall or surrounding tissue. If pain occurs with a lump in the stomach, seek immediate medical attention.


How do I avoid abdominal pain when exercising?

A sting that can cause abdominal pain during exercise is not a serious condition. However, this is certainly annoying and makes your sports activities uncomfortable. Below are preventive measures you can take.


  1. Avoid eating and drinking 2 hours before exercise

Many people complain of stings after eating and drinking large amounts of water. However, they still need the energy to move. Therefore, it is better to set meal times earlier, for example, 3 to 4 hours before training.

The shortest delay that experts allow between eating and exercise is 2 hours. This will avoid stitches that cause abdominal pain during exercise. Drink small amounts but often, at least once every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise to avoid dehydration.


  1. Avoid hypertonic drinks before exercise

A hypertonic drink is a type of drink that contains a higher concentration of salt and sugar than is found in the body. This type of highly concentrated drink can trigger the appearance of stings. To preserve your body fluids, avoid hypertonic drinks and only consume water or sports drinks before exercise.


  1. Gradually increase exercise intensity

Stitch rarely relapses when you exercise at an intensity that isn’t all that different from your normal exercise. But if you never exercise and then suddenly exercise at high intensity, this condition will make you more prone to stitches.

Athletes who exercise regularly are also at risk of stings if they suddenly increase their exercise duration and intensity. Instead, slowly increase both while preparing the body to adapt to new activities.


  1. Use a supportive wide belt

Poor posture can increase the risk of stings. You can use a supportive wide belt that looks like a corset to limit upper body movement during exercise. The less upper body movement, the less likely it is that stitches will occur.

Then how do you deal with abdominal pain during exercise?

To reduce pain and relieve stitches during exercise, there are several things you can do such as the following.

  • Pause the exercise for a moment or slow down the intensity.
  • Breathe in long and deep, and then breathe out slowly to ease the pain.
  • Stretch your abs by gently tilting your body toward the painful area.
  • Also, try gently pressing on the painful area with your fingers while tilting your body.
  • Drink slowly to keep your body hydrated during exercise, but avoid sugary sports drinks if your stomach hurts.

Stitches usually go away within a few minutes or after you stop exercising. If you tend to experience this condition while exercising, consider resetting the duration and intensity of your activities.

If this condition does not go away after a few hours of stopping exercise, contact your doctor immediately for medical treatment. See a doctor right away if you experience sharp, stabbing pain accompanied by fever and swelling on the side of your abdomen.