Lots of runners suffer from a running side stitch, me included.
If you sometimes get an awful pain in your side just below your ribs whilst running, chances are that it is a running side stitch. They are pretty common, especially among new runners but in fact anyone can get them from time to time.
For me it is like a sharp pain which makes me want to stop running and to bend over and hold my side. Not fun!
Basically, a side stitch while running is caused by a spasm of your diaphragm. It causes a sharp pain on either side of your abdomen and just below your rib cage.
The diaphragm is a sheet of muscle which sits just below your ribs and which separates your chest from your stomach. As you breathe in, your diaphragm contracts to allow your lungs to expand with air and then as you exhale, your diaphragm relaxes and moves upwards which helps push the air back out of your lungs.
It is not known exactly what causes a runners side stitch and none of the research has been totally conclusive. But there are some theories:
Since the research on the causes of a side stitch while running is not conclusive, it is difficult to give a straight answer on how to avoid and treat them. I have tried several methods and all with varying degrees of success. Trouble is, when you are out running, you tend to forget what to do exactly!
The best treatment I have found, is to stop! I take a few deep breaths, let my heart and breathing get back to normal and then start off running again but very slowly picking up the pace.
You could also try: