So, I have this problem.

It doesn’t happen when I swim, or when I cycle – only when I run.

I’ll be doing fine, running along at an easy pace. My breath will be through my nose, both in and out. I’ll be breathing around 3-4 step pace.

And then. Around the second km… I get a stitch. Almost without fail.

And it’s driving me insane!

It’s really impacting my ability to run constantly for a decent distance (think 5k) and also my ability to speed up. I’ve been running regularly for about a year now, and it’s a problem that doesn’t seem to be going away.

In short – it’s the one thing holding me back from improving my running.

So, I’m putting out a plea – do you know how to prevent a stitch?

I have tried the following, with varied levels of success:

  • Diet – not eating for a good few hours before running, as well as WHAT I eat. I seem to get less stitches when I’m eating a strictly paleo diet.
  • Breathing – making sure to fully exhale, and exhaling when landing on my left foot, as I always get my stitch on my right side/shoulder.
  • Posture – tightening my lower abdomen, and also my middle/upper abdomen as I run. This gets pretty exhausting over longdistances.

However, the only thing that actually gets rid of it once a full-blown stitch has set in is to slow to a walk or stop, press on the spot, and/or bend over for a moment.

I read this interesting article from the AIS, in which they explain the current thinking on the causes of a stitch.

Current theory seems to suggest that it’s caused by organs pulling on ligaments, or an irritation of the parietal peritoneum – two layers of membrane that have a fluid layer between them in your abdomen.

I’ve often suspected that my bra has something to do with it. Ladies, can you confirm/deny this for me? I always seem to get the worst pain just under my breast – where my bra strap goes around my torso – and the shoulder pain is where the shoulder strap runs, too. Could the extra pressure from the garment be exacerbating the problem, I wonder?

Long story short – I’d love to hear what’s worked for you if you’ve managed to overcome this problem. Is it something that gets better the fitter you get?

There’s gotta be a solution – I don’t imagine all runners/athletes just push through the pain… or maybe they do?

{image from SeriousRunning}