An article in Triathlete Europe offers advice on how to avoid side stitch, citing diaphragm spasm as one of the most common causes, with spasm of the accessory muscles of breathing, the obliques, another cause.

Canadian Running also features an article about side stitch explaining that as you take in air (while running) your diaphragm contracts, allowing your lungs to expand. And, like any other muscle, your diaphragm can become overloaded during a run, straining it and causing it to spasm.

While there appears to be no definitive consensus on the causes of side stitch, many medical and sports professionals do believe it to be associated with the diaphragm, your main breathing muscle, and surrounding muscles.

How to avoid side stitch

During fitness and sports activities it’s not uncommon to experience stitch – that uncomfortable feeling in your side which can cause you to slow down and impair your performance. But stitch has been linked to breathing problems and is considered to be a muscle spasm of the diaphragm and the ligaments that support it.

This article in Runner’s World addresses the problem for new runners who were having problems with their breathing and consequently suffering from stitch. The article explains how these muscle spasms and stitch,

“are thought to occur from the strain and fatigue associated with the increased workload of accelerated breathing from exercise.”

There is a particular type of training that will help alleviate this breathing fatigue, inspiratory muscle training. POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training devices (breathing trainers) exercise the muscles you use to breathe in, the inspiratory muscles. It works by adding a resistance to your breath as you breathe in through the device – like dumbbells for your diaphragm. As your breathing muscles become stronger you increase the resistance, so you’re always challenging them, and specifically targeting them. Increased breathing strength results in an increase in breathing stamina too and a reduction in breathing fatigue. So in regard to stitch resulting from breathing fatigue, POWERbreathe IMT devices offer the very solution to help make these a distant memory. Not only that but because of your increased breathing strength and stamina, you’ll be able to run, cycle, swim, ski etc farther for longer and with less effort!

An easy way to help prevent your diaphragm from feeling fatigued is to train your inspiratory muscles (mainly your diaphragm and intercostals) with POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) to become stronger. This will help improve your breathing stamina and enable you to perform your sport for longer and with less effort.

A pain in the side – why a stitch can turn a sporting demigod into a ‘DNF’ is a really informative article written by Sports Performance Bulletin which looks at strategies for coping with stitch and training techniques for its prevention, including POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training.