Stitches and how to drop them!


No doubt there's plenty info on the forum about stitches and if I dig deep enough I'll find it. But I was hoping I could take the lazy person's way out and just jump in and ask....

What does everyone find is the best way to get rid of a stitch? Or, even better, how to avoid getting them (as far as possible) in the first place? I'm beginning to think that it's all in the mind, kind of like that phantom pee thing I hear so much about!

Thanks, everyone



  • Hiya FAJ - my method of stitch removal is: check how you're breathing when you run. If you normally breathe in when your right foot hits the ground, swap it round, so that you breathe in on a left foot strike. And the fitter you get, the less you'll get it.
  • Hi FAJ

    I use to get stitches when I first started running and would masage while running the side with the stitch and it seem to pass.

    I also heard that core strenghtening helps and I have to say that since I lost the little pot belly I had developed and tightened up my abs I don't seem to suffer with stitches any more. I actually can't remember the last time I got a stitch while running (touch wood).

    So maybe if you dont already, include some core sternghtening into your workouts.

    I am now up to 2 sets each of 40 reps of crunches, crunches with legs raised onto stability ball, oblique crunches and reverse crunches every second day. Seemed to work for me.

    Check out this site for some info

  • Hi FAJ
    Also breath out as though you are blowing into a paper bag, this often helps. Don't eat for a couple of hours before you run, and it will get less as you get fitter.
  • Hi, Im having the same problem, I get a sitch in the right hand side for the past few runs, my last food before a run is a snack of a bowl of cereal about 2 1/2 hours before I run. I also work my core stability muscles on my non run evenings, I will try other suggestions of breathing when other foot reaches ground, any other suggestions would be appreciated, also any other suggestions on what to snack before going out, so long as its not meat or fish as dont eat either, thanks
  • I find that if you change your breathing pattern while you're running it helps like, meerkat says, and take some long slower breaths (hard I know when you are puffed out) in between your faster breaths.
  • Also agree. I found out on here that if you breathe out hard as you put your foot down on the side where the stitch is, it goes after about 3 repeats of this.

    Works for me.
  • Breathing out when my left foot hits the ground seem to do the trick. Not running on a full stomach.

    Doing crunches also helps.
  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭
    Try having something light to eat (e.g. a banana) 2-2.5 hours before you run, and don't drink anything in the hour before you run (you can make up for this when you finish your run).

    I find raising my arm on the side of the stitch straight up can help too (looks a bit strange, and be careful you don't accidentally flag down a passing taxi!)

    Since I started the banana thing I haven't had a stitch at all, and I used to get them constantly. Guess it's unfortunately a case of trying things out to see what works for you.
  • A few deep breaths normally does the trick for me.

    I only get them when i eat or drink within an hour of running (and im not talking about a banana or something).
  • I to get stitches, but much less now I'm fitter. I do exaggerated breathing out and blow my tummy out at the same time, and then when I breathe in pull my tummy in. Also, big breath out every 2nd time my left foot strikes the ground. I think this helps partly because you're stretching the stomach muscle, partly because you are puffing out on the left side when stitches happen on the right, and partly because when you're trying to concentrate on keeping this together and running you forget about the stitch!
  • Thanks for the tips, everyone. Me and my running chum tried them last night and they seemed to do the job. Though I found that puffing out when my right foot hit the ground was, would you believe, causing a stitch on that side. So I swapped to breathing out when my left foot hit instead and that was fine. I also found out that drinking 3/4 litre of fizzy water in the hour-and-a-half leading up to going out is a right no-no! What a chump. I'm not sure about not eating anything for 2-2.5 hours before I go out, though, as I fear I would pass out!

  • Tried not eating to much 2 hours before running, still had stitch!! tried massaging area, now have a bruise there!!! obviously rubbed to hard!! will try to remember breathing tips next time although have enough trouble with breathing anyway!!
  • Get someone to look at you as you're running past (once your near the end of a session and you've got stitch - not at the beginning). You may need to straighten your torso out more, i.e. stand up straighter, which will help your diaphragm and stomach muscles unknot.

    Definately advice about massaging the area, eating (or not) before races etc definately works for me. My original cut-off point was about 2 - 2.5 hours when I started but is now down to about 1.5 hours of starvation prior to a 10k provided its light - e.g. cereal not a fry-up.

    Can now have a few mouthfuls of water about 20 mins before a race too - its just the ligaments/tissue which hold your intestines in place need to get used to the bouncing around.
  • am really surprised at what you are saying about drinking. is it bad then to drink while running? I don't think I could do a 10K without my bottle of water!
  • I don't often get stitch, except for if I eat/drink too close to running. When I do get it, I find that dropping my arms down by my side and blowing out very hard a couple of times helps to get rid of it.

  • I used to get stitch all the time when I started out. I just tried to make sure I was running upright (not bending forward) and ran through it as it went away eventually. Thankfully, I don't seem to get it anymore. I always have a mouthful of water before going out on a jog just to wet my mouth and keep me going.
  • Is there a paticular time or distance when a stitch kicks in? For me it's usually about 3 miles.

  • I found something online the other day which seemed to work.  When you start getting a stitch stretch your arms up and backwards and takes deep breaths.  This has worked a couple of times for me now.

  • Has anyone considered (in females) the relationship between getting a stitch and water retention?

     Today I did a circuit and had a stitch during the laps. Yesterday I played squash and had a stitch. On Sunday I ran 5 miles and had a stitch.

     However, at other times I can go for about two or three weeks without getting a stitch.

     I wouldn't say that i'm a world class athlete but for the past 14-16 months I've been undertaking regular (3-4 times / week, minimum) exercise, inculding running, which began properly with the Manchester 10km in 2009. I really do feel stronger and fitter in many ways.

     I will try the tips mentioned here (all I've tried so far is the breathing exercises, to no avail) but I'm also going to map when in the month I get a stitch. I'm curious as to whether there might be a link between low levels of water in the body and getting a stitch.


  • In line with the core body workouts suggested above, today on the treadmill (5km, uphill program, 10.2 km/hr) I got a stitch and started to make a concerted effort to lift my knees, therefore using / twisting my abdomen, and I must say that that combined with breathing out of the left of the mouth (whilst trying not to spit on my neighbour!) seemed to relieve the pain the best. The stitch didn't go away but the pain was lessened slightly.
  • i'm pretty convinced that most stitch trouble is caused by either dehydration or weakness in core and abdominal muscles. Therefore the best way to reduce instances of stitch is:

     a) ensure adequate hydration. Don't do this by downing pints of water just prior to a run however - this is likely to exacerbate a stitch problem. It's good to drink water in small quantities continually throughout the day.

    b) general core and abdominal muscle strengthening. A mixture of crunches, good quality press ups. Suspension training is also really good for core work.

  • I've been running regularly since February and have never suffered with stitch until today. Today it was enough to slow me to a walk. I was running the 10 k route that the Tameside 10 k race is going to be on Sunday. The first time I have been out that way and it was different from my normal runs as it has a long hill climb and then a long downward run. The stitch came in the 10th km just after the downward bit. I wonder if it was anything to do with me not being used to running hills? I will try out some of the suggestions on here, but am worried about doing this race and having the embarrassment of having to walk if the stitch comes back!
  • I used to suffer with them horribly as a kid, doing cross country etc.

    Recently, before hitting the streets I've worked on my general fitness in the gym, and after getting that base to work with, I haven't had a single one since I started putting in the miles.

  • I'm not really a runner, but I usually get stitches when I bounce up and down too much. I have gotten stitches while riding in a car going over some rough terrain and bouncing around a lot. Usually if I run at an even stride and reduce my bouncing I don't get stitches. Just my experience, for what it's worth.
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