MAY 04, 2017 4:01 PM PDT

Stitch in your side?


You know that feeling - like a knife being wound in between your ribs? It's painful and makes it hard to breathe and in general is not a very good feeling. But why does it happen?

Sometimes you get a stitch because of exercise - in fact that happens to 69% of runners, and the phenomenon is called exercise related transient abdominal pain. Although scientists aren't exactly sure why this occurs, the thought is that this happens because you are overextending your diaphragm and during the stress of exercise, you can strain the muscle, causing it to spasm and result in sharp pains. Another possibility is that your peritoneum, the membrane that lines your abdominal wall and helps support your organs, dries out. Normally the peritoneum has liquid between its layers, but when you sweat a lot, it can dry out, and the rubbing around of those layers could potentially cause you that stitch.

So what can you do to make the stitch go away? Taking a break from your exercise will mostly likely help out, as can waiting a while after eating before you to work out. You can also strengthen your core in order to reduce the stress on your ligaments while you're moving and help keep all your organs in their places!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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