Side-ache Prevention
May 18, 2009 4:17 PM   Subscribe

What are more in-depth practices I can use to prevent side-aches?

I'm aware of the exhaling while my right foot hits the ground, but this doesn't cut it. What are some known solutions as well as solutions that work for you?

I am very in-shape and can do cardio for long periods of time, but when it comes to running, I get a side ache after the first mile every time. It's very frustrating.

I tried drinking just minimal water before running which helps a bit as well.
posted by Jenna Roadman to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You look silly while doing it, but raising one arm straight up in the air above your head is what I've been told to do. It seems to work for me.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 4:19 PM on May 18, 2009

I get that ache when I'm dehydrated. I try to drink a lot of water on days when I know I'm going to work out, and then have water with me while I'm exercising so that I can rehydrate as necessary.
posted by decathecting at 4:21 PM on May 18, 2009

I used to get this problem a lot, especially when running downhill. One thing that has helped is to keep a very conscious breathing rhythm, and not let my breath get too shallow or fast. I time it with my footfalls to keep a consistent rhythm. Also, how are you breathing? I've found that "belly breathing" really helps. When you inhale, push out your stomach, and when you exhale, pull it back in. (This is opposite what many of us do.) Apparently it helps the diaphragm to fully lower and relax, which helps prevent it from cramping up.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 4:43 PM on May 18, 2009

I can't eat anything or much of anything for literally 3-4 hours before exercising. Are you running on a fixed schedule or varying your daily routine? Are you running first thing in the morning on a totally empty stomach?
posted by paanta at 5:51 PM on May 18, 2009

Yes, seconding the notion that diaphragmatic irritation may be the culprit. I've found that I can stave off side cramps when running by exhaling fully (after a normal exhale, I blow as much air out of my lungs as I can, so it almost feels like they're "collapsed") and then waiting as long as I can before inhaling again. This will drastically slow down my breathing, so sometimes I need to alternate usual faster, shallower breathing in order to get enough O2, but this technique works pretty consistently for me.
posted by tentacle at 5:52 PM on May 18, 2009

As you go on to search about this, be aware that people often refer to this as side stitches.
posted by tcv at 6:57 PM on May 18, 2009

My technique was to have out be three breaths out, one breath in, paced with my footsteps. Out-out-out-in Out-out-out-in. If I got a cramp, I'd blow all the air out and hold it for as long as I could and then start shallow breaths in again. The technique I was taught on the team was to put my lips together, then blow all the air out through the closed lips -- it sounds like blowing a raspberry. In my experience, that was too embarrassing to use regularly.
posted by salvia at 7:20 PM on May 18, 2009

Build up endurance. Start slower. "Cardio" endurance is kind of meaningless, it doesn't tend to translate all that well between activities (especially running, in my experience) and if you aren't used to running, well, you need to build up to it. That includes building up to getting past side stitches. Try walking for a bit when you get the stitch to work it out, then continuing on at a slower pace. I get stitches when I try to run hard and I haven't in a while, it is a sign I need to 1) slow my ass down right now, and 2) consider hitting the treadmill a bit more frequently.
posted by ch1x0r at 7:46 PM on May 18, 2009

So you're in great shape, but not running shape? I second that you should go slower. Because you're fit, you probably feel like you are not getting enough of a workout when you are running at a moderate pace. I had this problem and found that working out with a heart rate monitor was really helpful for forcing me to run at a reasonable pace. I felt very slow, but after I ran with the HRM, I found that my HR on those "slow" runs was approaching 175! Fine for a short tempo run but way too high otherwise. Running slower/at a lower HR has improved my endurance and speed, and has made running much more enjoyable. I only get side stitches now occasionally during races.
posted by peep at 8:10 PM on May 18, 2009

In cross country we were pretty much constantly told that strengthening core ab muscles would help side stitches. And so we had to do a massive amount of core exercises. Whether it was the ab exercises or just running a lot, I don't know, but the side stitches went away. It's also almost always possible to run through them, and they'll eventually go away on their own.. it can be quite painful though.
posted by devilsbrigade at 12:32 AM on May 19, 2009

I think you`re supposed to exhale on the left side, not the right. I always got side stitches until I started exhaling when my left foot hit the ground. Don`t get them anymore.
posted by fan_of_all_things_small at 9:47 PM on May 19, 2009

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