When it comes to exercise, there are tonnes of different hurdles standing in the way of you and a great workout. Just about everyone knows that exercise is a fundamental part of a healthier life, but actually doing it just isn't so easy. One of the biggest of these hurdles in exercise actually comes from the notorious problem that is: the stitch. They're a real pain (literally), and learning about what a stitch is and what the causes of one are is the first step in fighting them off for good.

It’s not a black and white situation of “this will stop a stitch”, but learning about the things that go into one is never a bad thing to have up your sleeve. If you’ve ever had one, you know why.

What Actually is a Stitch?

A stitch, or exercise-related transient abdominal pain (ETAP), is the sharp, stabbing pain in your chest/abdomen that sometimes happens when you exercise. A stitch usually happens in things where you remain upright, i.e. running or playing sports, and you'll definitely know about it when it happens.

What Causes it to Happen?

The cause of a stitch is actually not something that is set in stone. Generally speaking, it’s thought to be a result of irritation in your abdomen caused by a number of different things. It really is that vague, and there are tonnes of different theories out there. Irritation is the most supported.

What can you do to stop them?

So, if the worst does happen and you have to deal with a stitch as it’s happening, what do you do? There’s no quick fix, right? The best thing that you can do is actually to keep on going! The pain that comes from a stitch should only last you a matter of minutes, and you'll usually find that after a couple of minutes of (dire) pain, it'll wear off on its own! In the meantime, stretching, slowing downs and even speeding up can all help you out. Find a way you find the most effective.

 

person dealing with a stitch

 

How to prevent a stitch

If you’re already familiar with stitches and you learned the hard way, the next best thing we can offer you is some advice on how to stop them from happening in the first place. It's actually not difficult to do. The best possible thing you can do is to avoid eating a heavy meal or sugary drink within two hours of your exercise. That's about it. Eating is one of the biggest facts of a stitch for causing the irritation to occur. You stop that from happening, and you should be in the clear!

 

All of the information we've put together here comes from the Journal of Sport, and for any more info on any of this, go and check out the full study there

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40279-014-0245-z

 

Happy training!

 

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Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.