Why Does My Side Hurt When I Run?

Why Does My Side Hurt When I Run?

Even though medical research has yet to pinpoint the specific cause of the pain, some sports physicians feel that the source of the pain varies depending on the level of experience of the sufferer.

A common ailment among runners is side stitches.

As per research, around 70% of runners suffer this condition once a year. A stitch is a localized ache on one side of your stomach also known as exercise-related temporary abdominal pain (ETAP).

Suffering from ankle pain when you run? Find out why here.

What Are Side Stitches?

As mentioned earlier, a side stitch, sometimes called exercise-related temporary abdominal pain (ETAP), is an ache on one side of your abdomen. The right side is where it’s most usually reported. Cramps, a mild aching, a tugging feeling, or a sudden, shooting pain are all possible symptoms.

A side stitch is most commonly felt during long-distance sports activities like sprinting, basketball, or cycling. In a 2014 study, scientists found that approximately 70% of runners had had a side stitch in the previous year.

Side stitch sensations can be alleviated by drinking more water, stopping or pausing your activities to walk, and stretching.

Continue reading to find out more about side stitches and how to manage or avoid them.

What Causes Side Stitches?

The precise explanation for this is still unknown. However, there are some options.

Muscle Spasm

It appears that you have a muscle spasm. The actual etiology of a side stitch is unknown, but one theory is that it is caused by a spasm in the diaphragm.

The diaphragm is the key muscle that allows humans to breathe, and it will rebel if pressed to do more work than it is accustomed to.

This can involve stretching beyond its typical limits or expanding and contracting faster than usual. This is most common among inexperienced runners.

Irritation of the Parietal Peritoneum

Irritation of the parietal peritoneum, a delicate membrane that borders the abdominal and pelvic cavities, may cause side stitches, according to research published in 2015.

The phrenic nerve is connected to the sensation in this membrane. Pain impulses in this nerve become more noticeable when the parietal peritoneum is disturbed by movements in the stomach wall.

The Spine Is Under Stress

Another possibility is that the discomfort is a reaction to increasing spinal tension.

Running’s vertical and circular components can cause greater stress on the spinal column, which can manifest as intense, localized discomfort in the side.

Runners are well-versed in side stitches. Various sports, such as horseback riding and swimming, might also cause these aches and pains. Stitches can be triggered by any action that includes a lot of torso movement.

What Are the Factors That Increase Your Chances of Getting the Stitch?

A side stitch can happen to anyone who is running or other activities that demand a lot of torso movement.

However, other activities, such as jogging, are more likely to cause stitches or increase the likelihood of getting one.

Ignoring Your Warm-up

If you have weak core muscles or don’t warm up properly before actually going for a run, you’re more likely to get side stitches.

Choices in Food

Side stitches can also be caused by eating a big, high-fat meal or consuming high-sugar beverages within 1 or 2 hours of jogging.

Having a big meal before a run activates the GI system, which implies the diaphragm gets very little oxygen. And if the diaphragm isn’t receiving the nutrients it requires, the lack of oxygen will feel like a stab in the back.

Quickly Escalating the Intensity of Your Workout

Another typical cause of side stitches is doing too much rapidly.

Running too far or overly quickly before your body has had time to settle causes compensations and a misaligned strain on your body. The abdomen may experience pain and discomfort as a result of this.

Breathing From the Chest or Shallow Breathing

Lastly, a side stitch may be caused by shallow or chest breathing.

Whenever you take quick, shallow breaths instead of deep, belly breaths, this transpires.

Throughout a run, if you take quick, shallow breaths, your muscles will not get enough oxygen and then become exhausted very quickly, resulting in aches and a side stitch.

Shallow breaths could also place extra strain on the ligaments and muscles surrounding the diaphragm, leading neighboring muscles to work hard to compensate for the extra tension caused by the diaphragm’s lack of mobility.

What’s the Best Way to Get Rid of a Side Stitch?

Here are a few pointers to help you stop a side stitch:

Take It Easy

The purpose of running is to keep going forward.

Slowing down and adjusting the rhythm of your breathing should be the primary method you can try.

Breathe From Your Belly Button

Belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, necessitates slowing down and focusing on your breath.

Stop your workout and take a few belly breaths if you acquire a side stitch. Inhale deeply and fully before exhaling.

Arms and Abs Should Be Stretched

Stretch both arms upward and then over to the stitch’s side. Maintain this posture for 30 seconds.

You may have to repeat this process a few times before you feel better.

Apply Pressure to the Stitch

Quit running and move out of the way if you sense a stitch building on.

Put your hand in the area where you sense the stitch coming on to locate the stitch. While breathing, press down on the area. Press a little harder into the painful place with each exhalation.

You could do this while strolling if you want to constantly move.


A side stitch affects the majority of athletes, particularly runners. In endurance races, they’re a regular phenomenon.

Once you stop exercising, a side stitch typically goes away in a few moments. Reduce the time of your workouts if you’re vulnerable to them.

If you feel pain in your side or abdomen that isn’t related to exercise, or if you do have a side stitch that lasts many hours, tell your doctor and get medical care. It could be a symptom of something more severe.

About the author

Johnny is dedicated to providing useful information on commonly asked questions on the internet. He is thankful for your support ♥

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