Friday 2.8.13

I'm sure we've all had that experience of being in the middle of a run, or maybe a swim, and all of a sudden you develop this sharp pain in your side. The dredded side stitch. We did "Nancy" the other day and some mentioned getting that cramping feeling in their side, which led me to do some research: how do you get rid of side stitch??

What is it?
No one is really 100% sure what causes side stitch. Most seem to agree that it involves the diaphram, and the main concensus appears to be that it's a cramping of the diaphram, which is the muscular organ used to push air in and out of the lungs. It's unclear why it cramps or spasm. When you run, your legs pump up and down, putting pressure on the diaphram from above. At the same time, your lungs apply pressure from above as you breath. The combination of these two things could cause a reduced amount of blood flow and oxygen to the organ, leading to cramping. Other research suggests that it's the result of the ligaments that connect the diaphram with other organs being tugged and stretched as you bounce up and down. 

What to do if you get it

All of that's nice, but what do you do if you're in the middle of a run or a WOD and you get that side cramping feeling?? Well, that's up for debate also, but here are a few suggestions that work for some:

  • Take deep breaths. If you breathe very shallow (which often happens when you're tired), your diaphram never has a chance to fully expand and relax.
  • Gently push into the area where you're feeling the pain. This may increase blood flow to that region.
  • Slow down. Remember, you're trying to get to a point where you can take deep breaths.
  • Maintain good posture while running. Squashing your diaphram will impede oxygen flow and can cause cramping.
  • Stretch. Reach up and lean to the side with each arm.
  • Change up your breathing pattern. If you normally exhale when your left food hits the ground,  try it when your right foot hits the ground. Or, inhale 1 extra beat than when you exhale.

If all else fails and you just can't take the pain, you might just have to stop and walk while concentrating on breathing deeply.

How to prevent it

  • Take deep breaths! 
  • Stick to familiar pre-workout foods that are easily digestable. There does seem to be a correlation between eating too much or the wrong types of foods before a workout and side stitch. Eat light and stick to low-fat foods. 
  • Keep working out regularly. People who are in shape definitely still get side stich, but the more you work out, the more you will be better able to regulate your breathing.

WOD
5 rounds:
20 wall balls
15 C2B
200m run
rest 60 seconds