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wikiHow to Get Rid of Side Pain and Keep Running

Three Methods:Reducing PainFixing Your StrideChanging Your DietCommunity Q&A

A side pain or stitch can be extremely painful and often occurs during exercise. You may feel a sharp pain below your rib cage or in the tip of your shoulders. The pain could be caused by stress on the organ ligaments attached to the diaphragm, by sodium loss from sweating, dehydration, or by an inadequate supply of blood to your organs.[1][2] While you may have to try a few methods, you can take immediate measures to relieve the pain and correct your stride so that you do you not have to stop running. That said, the best method is prevention through dietary changes.

Reducing Pain

  1. 1
    Stop running. Slow your pace until you have come to a stop.[3] Running without treating the side stitch may make the pain worse and decrease your chances of treating it effectively.
  2. 2
    Bend over. Tighten your abdominal muscles, and bend forward. Try to pull your ribs down instead of sucking your stomach in.[4] Hold this position. The pain should disappear within a minute. Straighten your posture before you start running again.[5]
  3. 3
    Stretch your side. Raise the arm on the affected side above your head, and lean towards the opposite side. For example, if you are having pain on your left side, raise your left arm, and lean to the right. Hold this pose for a minute or until the pain disappears.[6]
  4. 4
    Breathe deeply from the diaphragm. You should be breathing from your diaphragm, not your chest. Try pursing your lips as you breathe. Inhale deeply, reaching down into your lungs. Your stomach should be expanding as you inhale and contracting as you exhale.[7][8]
  5. 5
    Massage the affected area. Locate the center of the pain on your side. While breathing deeply, push upwards into the affected spot with two or three fingers. Move your fingers in a circular motion to relieve the pain.[9]

Fixing Your Stride

  1. 1
    Fix your running posture. Incorrect posture may cause or worsen side pain.[10] Make sure that you are running while leaning slightly forward. As you run, your feet should be landing beneath your body, not in front of your body.[11]
  2. 2
    Run softer. Reducing the impact of your feet on the ground can reduce stress on your internal organs and muscles. There are a couple different ways to run softly that you can try:
    • Switch to a forefoot strike. In other words, land on your forefeet when you run instead of landing first on your heel.[12]
    • Shorten your stride length.
    • Increase your strides per minute while keeping the same pace[13]
  3. 3
    Slow your breathing pattern. As you run, you should be timing your breathing with your steps. Adjust your breathing so that you inhale over three steps and exhale over three steps. This is known as a 3:3 breathing pattern. It will encourage you to take deep breaths instead of shallow ones.[14]
  4. 4
    Walk it out. If the pain still persists, stop running. Do a ten minute interval of walking. If the pain disappears, you may start running again. If it does not, you should not start running again. You will need rest before you can exercise again.

Changing Your Diet

  1. 1
    Drink water in small quantities. One cause of side stitches may be drinking too much water at one time. Dehydration might be the cause or a contributing factor in your side pain as well. Be sure that you are well hydrated before you begin your run. As you continue running, take small sips of water more frequently. This can help relieve the pain while preventing more pain from developing.[15]
  2. 2
    Avoid eating for two hours before you run. Eating before you run may increase your chances of developing pain. Plan your meals so that you are not consuming large quantities of food or drink before you run.[16] Certain types of food have a higher chance of causing side pain when eaten before running. These include:
    • Sugar.
    • Milk products.
    • Fruit, including juices.
    • High fat foods.[17]
  3. 3
    Drink a liquid with electrolytes. If you are exercising in the heat, you may have a heat cramp caused by the loss of sodium in your sweat. Sports drinks that contain electrolytes can help relieve your pain and prevent future heat cramps.[18]
  4. 4
    Add sodium to your diet. Increasing your sodium intake can help you avoid future heat cramps. However, check with your doctor first to see if this is a safe alternative for you. If you have high blood pressure, you may need to control the amount of sodium in your diet. During hotter months, eat saltier foods. Try to choose ones that still contain vegetables and healthy proteins, such as tomato juice, pickles, or jerky. You can also add ¼ teaspoon of salt to a pint of water to make your own sports drink.[19]

Community Q&A

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    • If you cannot stop the pain, you should stop running for the time being. Return home to rest.
    • If you have frequent side stitches, you may need to see a physical therapist to determine if you have any underlying issues that could be causing it.


    • If you are still in excessive pain for more than an hour after you stop moving, contact your doctor.

    Article Info

    Categories: Pain Management and Recovery | Running for Fitness

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