NCTV Episode 66

Continuing with the series of bitesize health tip videos which can be found here on my YouTube Channel, this episode, includes:-

  • Who gets them
  • Symptoms
  • Why do they occur
  • How to get rid of them
  • How to prevent them


If you’d prefer to read the content within, rather than watch the video, then feel free to read the transcript, as follows:-

Hello and welcome to NCTV Episode 66 which is all about the side stitch or the common stitch as it’s also known.

So pretty much everyone has experienced a stitch at some point in their life but what is it? Currently there are no definitive answers on the matter, only theories. However, we do know more about the potential causes, how we can prevent them from happening and what to do if we get one.

First though, as to who gets them, they are mainly experienced in runners, swimmers, cyclists, and generally 75% of people who do some form of aerobic fitness.

They also tend to occur in people who either haven’t warmed up properly or have eaten too close to exercising.

In case you’re one of the few people that have never experienced one, it can be described as a sharp, stabbing pain or ache in the upper part of the abdomen, just below the ribs which usually feels worse on deep breathing and it sometimes refer pain to the shoulder.

Onto the theories now and some of the reasons they are believed to come about may be:-

  • Because during exercise, our blood moves away from the diaphragm to the limbs. The diaphragm is the main muscle that assist with breathing. So the pain is caused by a reduction in blood supply to the diaphragm, causing it to cramp. However, this idea is now not well regarded because both the leg muscles and the diaphragm work hard during running or exercise so it is unlikely blood would be shunted away from the diaphragm at this time.
  • That the body finds it hard to digest certain foods or fluids causing the gut to tug on the ligaments connecting it to the diaphragm. However, jolting of the organs and pulling of the ligaments may occur in runners although this doesn’t explain why people get stitches in other less jolty sports like swimming and cycling.
  • A third theory is that irritation occurs on the cavity wall of the abdomen, called the peritoneum which again is associated with certain types of food that may have been eaten before exercise or even due to bloating.
  • Some also believe that stitches are linked to irritation in the spinal column where those with poor posture and a hunched upper back are more prone to them.

Ways to treat or prevent a stitch are to:-

  • Simply stop running or whatever activity you’re doing.
  • Secondly, applying firm pressure on the painful area can be helpful.
  • Some people find that they can run a stitch off within a few minutes if they slow the pace down too.
  • Leave between one and a half and two hours between eating and exercise and be sure that it’s not after a heavy meal, particularly avoiding foods high in fibre or fat.
  • Avoid sugary drinks & foods like soft drinks and lollies that may irritate the peritoneum.
  • Ensure you’re well hydrated 12 hours before your run, sport or exercise and only drink a small amount in the two hours prior.
  • Start with a warm up and build up the intensity gradually
  • Control your breathing with slow, deep breaths as irregular or shallow breathing patterns may provoke a stitch
  • …and finally, strong abs can reduce the probability of suffering from a stitch, so spending just a small amount of time a day to work on strengthening your abdominal muscles can be of considerable benefit.

That’s all for today, tune in again next time for some more bitesize bits to help your health flourish. Bye bye for now!