While I mostly blog about all the jolly good times I have when I run, sometimes running can be a pain in the sides… Every running book or magazine will mention two strategies for getting rid of the dreaded stitches: either, you slow down and push your hand into the painful area, or you exhale sharply when your opposite foot strikes the ground. Neither of these strategies work particularly well for me, and even if they successfully banish the stitch, it takes quite a bit of time.
However, a few years ago I discovered a nifty little technique which gets rid of stitches almost instantly, every time. I’ve never heard anyone else mentioning this idea, so I thought I’d put it out there and see if it can help other runners as well. All it takes is a little practice… And because I don’t think that while hobbling about and crippled by stitches is a good time to try a new exercise, it’s probably best to try this at home first. Also, I don’t recommend that you try this with a full stomach!
Here’s what to do:
Stand with your feet slightly apart and place your hands on your quads. Then round your body slightly, by pushing your bottom back, bending the knees and leaning somewhat on your hands.
It’s time to focus on your breathing now: take a deep breath in, and then exhale all the air from your lungs and hold your breath. Now pull your navel inwards and upwards towards your spine and as far as you can and hold this position.
When I get a stitch on the run, I use the same motion: I slow my pace slightly if needed (as I won’t be breathing normally for a few strides!), then take a deep breath in before expelling all the air from my lungs and pull my navel strongly inwards and upwards. I hold this for a good few strides, as long as I comfortably can, and then release. It really is that simple, and I have found that it often cures a stitch completely after just one repetition!
If you give it a shot, please let me know if this works for you too – good luck!
(Incidentally, apart from being a runner, I also do a lot of yoga; in fact, earned most of my bread and butter while studying by teaching yoga. The idea was inspired by a rarely-taught yoga exercise called Uddiyana Bandha – or abdominal lifts.)