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Side Stitch

Many older explanations of the cause of a side stitch were wrong.

You're running at a fast clip and suddenly you feel a dull ache just underneath your ribs on the right side and as you keep running, the pain worsens until it hurts so much you double over. When you stop, the pain usually disappears.

A side stitch is caused by stretching the ligaments that attach your liver to your diaphragm. Humans breathe out once for every two steps. More than 70 percent of humans breath out when their left foot hits the ground, while 30 percent breathe out when their right foot hits the ground. Those who breathe out when their right foot hits the ground are the ones most likely to suffer side stitches because the force of the right foot strike causes the liver to go down when their diaphragm goes up during breathing out. So the ligaments are stretched and hurt.

When you get a side stitch, stop running immediately, reach your fingers into the right side of your belly and push your liver up. Breathe out with you lips pursed at the same time. Then you will be able to resume running without feeling any pain.

Checked 1/23/15

May 12th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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