Q: How can I prevent a side stitch?
A: Also referred to as running cramps, side stitches are usually felt in the abdomen and can range from mildly uncomfortable to debilitating. Side stitches can be unpredictable, so the best thing you can do is try to prevent them from occurring.
Your first plan of attack is to properly schedule your pre-game nutrition. It’s best to eat an easy-to-digest meal two to four hours before your game. Also, make sure you drink enough fluids to hydrate your body without overfilling your stomach by following this schedule:
- Two hours prior: drink 20 oz. of water or sports drink
- One hour prior: drink 16 oz. of water or sports drink
- 15 minutes prior: drink 8 oz. of water or sports drink
Before you start a run, take the time to warm up and stretch. It’s particularly important to perform a dynamic warm-up that activates the muscles you will use during running. Also, perform exercises like the World’s Greatest Stretch or Side Bends, which target cramp-prone areas.
If you still succumb to a side stitch, there are a few things you can do to relieve the pain. Take deep breaths, slow down, massage the area or perform stretches similar to those mentioned above.