Research suggests that nearly
1/3 of well trained regular runners suffer the intense,
stabbing discomfort under the lower ribcage of exercise
related transient abdominal pain (ETAP) more commonly
known as a side stitch.
Although uncertain, it is
commonly believed that ETAP results from the stretching of,
and related spasming of ligaments that run from the
diaphragm to the internal organs, notably the liver.
Various methods are suggested to
alleviate attacks. The more successful include
Alternate breathing. If the
side stitch occurs on your right side (more common than
the left), try to exhale as your left foot strikes the
ground. If the stitch occurs on your left side, exhale
as your right foot strikes. Continue to alternate
breathe until the pain subsides.
If alternate breathing
fails, try slow, deep "belly breathing". Slowly inhale
and exhale deeply allowing your abdomen to move in and
out as much as possible with each breath.
Another method of
treatment is to raise the arm on the side of the stitch
and bend the torso over at the waist away from the
stitch thereby stretching the spasming diaphragm side.
An additional remedy is to
dig your fist under your ribcage and bend your torso
over to nearly 90°. This will stretch the diaphragm and
hopefully alleviate the spasm.