The dreaded stitch

Lately I've been getting stitches. I have been increasing my mileage, but not massively and if anything I'm running slower than before.

I seem to get more if I run in the evening. Does this happen to anyone else? Is there any reason why I'm more likely to get them in the evening? What can I do to cut them out? I can't always train in the mornings because of work.

Thanks for any suggestions,


  • There doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason about stitches, but I find I can get rid of them by blowing out hard on the footfall of the side the stitch is on (I tend to get them on one side or another)Grunting helps, but I sound like a nutter.
  • I started getting stitch for no good reason just after Christmas. I asked a ex-professional elite runner about this at one of the golden bond training days for the London Marathon in Feb and he and his coach both agreed on the answer.

    Apparently if you blow out as if to blow out candles on a cake, hold it, and try to blow out anything else you have left in your lungs, THIS WORKS. I tried this on my next few runs and although I found it difficult to hold it once blown out, I could feel it pulling on my lower abs and strangely, the stitch eased after doing this a few times. I think the ideal thing to do is to stop and do this but I found that if I concentrate on exhaling more than normal on each breath during normal running, this also seems to work after a little time. You do end up sounding like you're exhausted though!

    This method might work because you're concentrating on your breathing, but as long as it works, do we care?!

    Give it a go and good luck!
  • Totally agree with Abi Moran - 2 big breaths out.

    Also don't take on too much fluid in the hour before running.
  • When you first feel the stitch coming on, make sure your back is up straight and try to relax your stomach muscles so that your belly sticks out - take a couple of deep breaths using your stomach instead of your chest. Sounds odd but I find it works.
  • Excellent. I'll try those suggestions next time the demon bites me!


  • you probably get it more int he evening because you have a fuller stomach. this pulls on the tendons around the organs more as you giggle about whilst running.

    the deep exhalations work like a charm.

    stitches also become less frequent the longer(as in time in months and years) that you run(not just miles) as the tendons get stronger.
  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭
    I used to suffer with stitches on virtually every run. By chance I discovered something that seems to have stopped me from getting them - eating a banana and an apple two to two and a half hours before my run. I knew that if I ran on a full stomach I would definitely get a stitch, but also dicovered that 'running on empty' seemed to cause them too. But something light a couple of hours before a run does the trick for me.

    If you do still happen to get one, the above tips sometimes work, definitely the 'blowing out' one. I also find that raising my arm on the side of the stitch straight up seems to stretch out the diaphragm and that's helped in the past.

    Good luck - I hope you find something that works for you. I was crippled by a stitch in the middle of last year's Race for Life and lost a couple of minutes by having to completely stop and walk - too much water just before the race - so I know how painful and frustrating they can be!
  • I'm with you on the water thing. If I gulp down cold water during a race, I'm bound to get a stitch within a couple of minutes. This doesn't seem happen with sports drinks or warmer water.

    Will try the blowing out one for races which only offer cold water (i.e. most of them). Foxy 2's theory sounds good as well. Useful thread!
  • For me it was anything dairy based that brought on stitch, even up to 2 hours before!! Even a yoghurt would guarantee stitch within 15 minutes. Just remember to swallow whatever you choose to drink before blowing out though!!
  • I used to get stitch, and I wish I'd known the "blowing out" trick then. Since following the advice of a fell runner and doing 20 stomach crunches (sit-ups) every day I havn't had stitch in 10 years (I still run by the way!)
  • got to agree with the blowing out theory but used to find that the candles got blown out by the wind whilst i was running and i felt sick after eating half the cake whilst trying to run not to mention the amount of dogs that used to follow me hoping for a few morsels of cake
  • Having just got in from running (with a stich!) this ALMOST makes me what to go back and run again...... But I will wait until tomorrow to try the blowing at the candles fix!... One thing though, does anyone know why you actually get a stich??
  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭
    Agree with Rebekah too - I discovered that anything dairy gave me a bad stitch. Took me until most of the way through my marathon training programme to find this out though - I always did my long runs about 2 hours after a bowl of cereal and some toast and without fail would get a stitch. I tried cutting out the toast but no improvement. Then one day I tried cutting out the bowl of cereal and just had toast instead - bingo!
  • Fantastic, thanks for this advice.

    I am training for the 2012 London Marathon and despite having run (on and off) for quite a few years now, I am getting seriously bad stitch on virtually every run. It's really starting to get me down, to the point where I am worried I won't be able to hack the marathon.

    I ran the Birmingham Half Marathon a few weeks ago and within about 10 mins of starting, I was having to slow down to get rid of it.

    Will be giving all these tips a go at the weekend on my next run. Thanks everyone.

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