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Biggest Turn Off - Mid-Run Side Stitch


You’re working on your core. You’ve kept a gap between your meals and running. Your breathing is steady. You’ve hit your stride. But, to your surprise, you can feel the side stitch rising.

Also known as a "side cramp" or "abdominal muscle pain," this discomfort can be felt on the side of the abdomen and is often caused by overuse of the abdominal muscles. Side stitches are a common discomfort experienced by runners. They are characterized by mild to severe and stabbing pain felt on the side of the lower ribcage or middle of the abdomen.

A few blogs earlier, we talked about how you can increase your stamina for running, no matter whether you’re a beginner or an experienced runner. And how can you prepare yourself to run faster and longer? But what if you start feeling a pain in the abdomen, mid run? Read this blog to know the ways to cope with it.

You can feel side stitches due to a number of reasons such as muscle strain, breathing technique, eating habits, and even dehydration.  It strikes more often when you undertake repetitive actions with your torso held upright, which is the position you would adopt when pounding the pavement as opposed to, for example, swimming or cycling. This is one reason it affects runners more frequently than other types of exercise.

The good news is that there are effective ways to prevent side stitches and incorporating these techniques into your routine, especially if you run several days a week, can help you stay pain-free and continue to enjoy running.

How to prevent side cramps when running?

Deep breathing

Taking deep breaths while running can help control breathing rate and lower the risk of side stitches. To do this, inhale deeply through the nose and exhale through the mouth. The aim here is to slow down breathing and allow for more oxygen to be taken in with each inhale, which can help to reduce the strain on the abdominal muscles.

In the Level Supermind app, you can get hold of varieties of breathwork exercises that come with audio guidance. Additionally, it offers streamlined mind muscle workouts that you can access anytime, anywhere even when you’re in a no network zone (through the download feature). To get started, download the app from here- Level Supermind.

Using the Abdominal Muscles

The abdominal muscles play a crucial role in breathing and supporting the torso. Running can help reduce side stitches by contracting these muscles. To do this, try to tighten your abdominal muscles, hold the contraction for a few seconds, and then let it go. This will aid in relieving strain on the diaphragm and lower the possibility of getting side stitches.

Changing running style

The pressure on the abdomen muscles can be shifted by experimenting with various running styles, which can also lower the chance of side stitches. This can be done by  changing the way you run, such as by running on the balls of your feet as opposed to your heels, or by altering your arm swing.  Redistributing the stress on the abdominal muscles can assist to prevent them from becoming strained and developing side stitches.

Slow down

If you experience a side stitch while running, it is important to slow down and walk for a few minutes. This helps to take pressure off the abdominal muscles and allow the stitch to subside. After a few minutes of walking, you can gradually return to running. It's important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard, as this can worsen the side stitch and cause discomfort.


Hydration is utmost important for preventing side stitches. It's important for you to drink enough water before, during, and after your run to avoid dehydration. How dehydration can increase the risk of side stitches by putting stress on the abdominal muscles as well as affecting proper breathing. So, make sure to drink plenty of water and bring a water bottle with you on your runs.

Mindful eating

If you eat a heavy meal before running, it can increase the risk of side stitches. So, instead of having large meals, opt for a light snack approx 30 minutes to an hour before your run. It will fulfil the purpose by providing you enough energy without weighing you down or putting unnecessary strain on your digestive system. Good options include a banana, a granola bar, or a piece of fruit. Make sure to listen to your body and choose a snack that works best for you.


Stretching is one of the most underrated practice for preventing side stitches. So, before starting your run, stretch your side and abdominal muscles to loosen them up and reduce the risk of side stitches. Focus on slow and steady stretches that target the abdominal and side muscles.

Accurate posture

To avoid side stitches, good posture is essential. While running, be careful to maintain a straight back, a lifted chest, and relaxed shoulders. By keeping a straight posture, you can reduce the strain on your abdominal muscles and avoid getting side stitches. Concentrate on maintaining proper form during your run to avoid side stitches and have a comfortable and injury-free experience.

What to do when you feel side stitches rising when running?

Apply Pressure

If you experience a side stitch while running, one way to get relief from the pain is to apply pressure to the side of your abdomen where the stitch is located. This will help you feel relieved temporarily by reducing the strain on the abdominal muscles. To do this:

1. Maintain proper breathing - Make sure that your breathing is relaxed and even.

2. Slow down - Reduce your pace and place your hand on the affected area.

3. Apply pressure - As you exhale, gently apply pressure to the area by pinching it between your fingers and thumb. As you breathe in, let your hand go. For 5 to 6 breaths, repeat this technique.

4. Stop running - If the above steps don't relieve the cramp, simply stop running and allow the cramp to subside on its own.

Seek Medical Advice

It's crucial to get medical help if side stitches are persistent. Side stitches may be an indication of a more serious underlying condition such as a digestion problem, breathing problems, or a muscular injury if it happens regularly or comes together with other symptoms. A physician can identify the origin of the side stitches and offer the necessary care. Don't hesitate to get medical help if you feel chronic side stitches while jogging because it's always better to be safe than sorry.

Final thoughts

Side stitches are not serious, and there are ways to remedy and prevent the cramps from happening during your run. To prevent and relieve these cramps, you should hydrate and engage in deep breathing prior to exercising. But one of the most important ways to get rid of this is warm ups. Use Level Supermind to build the habit of doing stretches and building your stamina gradually.

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