There are different theories on how and why the stabbing pain on your sides develops while running. The explanations range from not having enough breakfast to poor blood supply in the diaphragm resulting in cramps in the abdominal muscles.
In my opinion poor posture, improper breathing techniques or the wrong running style provoke a side stitch.
Let's look at them one by one:
1. Poor posture:
If you sit most of the day or you had an abdominal surgery you develop muscle imbalances, some areas (your hip flexors and low back) are probably incredibly tight and some are not working properly (your abdominals and butt). Most likely you also have faulty pelvic alignment.
How do you run? Do you keep your phone in your hand? Are you involuntarily keeping your upper torso very stiff? If so, - your diaphragm, oblique and intercostal muscles most likely don't get enough oxygen and blood.
With increased speed, your body needs more oxygen. Irregular and shallow breathing can lead to a side stitch. Regulate your breathing. Proper breathing contributes to relaxation of the diaphragm and respiratory muscles.
Acupuncture and specific postural exercises help you correct the movement patterns that cause the side stitch. You also develop the necessary balance and strength, we work on releasing the facilitated muscles and activate the ones currently under working. A well-trained core and proper posture allow rotational movements in the trunk of the body. The internal organs are actively supported and you are less prone to cramps.
Try this exercise before your run:
- Lie on your back with both legs bent at 90 degree angles on a chair or block. Press your heels down so you are activating the hamstrings.
- Tuck your tailbone under
- Put your right hand under your head and keep your left one on your left rib cage (the right side is stretching).
- Breathe all the air out of your lungs slowly and press your left rib down gently (this activates the left rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, and the transverse abdominis).
- Hold this position for 5 seconds then breathe in as deeply as you can.
- Repeat 5x.
Play with these while running:
- Breathe in two steps and on the third step breathe out, this improves your breathing depth and the relaxation of the muscles.
- Exhale when you are placing your left foot down
- Breathe in for 5 counts and breathe out for 8.
- Breathe out like you blowing a birthday candle
- Yell "ha" really loud a couple of times
With all of these you can see the exhale is longer. A long exhale helps relaxing the diaphragm.