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The side stitch is an all-too-familiar phenomenon for runners, hikers, and any other athletes who engage in vigorous exercise. You’re pushing yourself hard, and suddenly you’re struck by an intense pain in your side. It may seem like an age-old mystery, but unraveling the cause of these pesky side stitches can actually be done. It turns out that the culprit could be dehydration, but there could also be other factors at play.
Unraveling the Mystery of Side Stitches
If you’ve ever experienced a side stitch, you know just how frustrating and distracting they can be. For a long time, they were thought to be caused by inflammation in the lungs. But the most recent research actually points to something different. It turns out that the culprit may actually be related to dehydration.
Is Dehydration to Blame?
When you don’t consume enough water while engaging in vigorous exercise, your body tightens up in an effort to maintain balance. Your muscles are no exception to this reaction, and when your surrounding muscles constrict, it can cause a sharp pain. This tightness in the surrounding muscles is what can cause the common side stitch.
Could There Be Other Causes?
While dehydration is likely the main cause of side stitches, there could also be other contributing factors. If you’ve been engaging in a bit too much activity too quickly for your body, it may be the cause of your side stitches. Additionally, experts believe that improper breathing techniques could also be to blame, as it puts excessive strain on the abdominal muscles.
Exploring Potential Causes of Side Stitches
To gain a better understanding of what may be causing your side stitch pain, it’s important to first recognize the symptoms. Painful side stitches typically occur on either side of the rib cage, but can also take place around the abdomen. If you find that the pain is recurring, it’s likely time to investigate the cause. Here are some of the potential explanations for your side stitches:
- Dehydration can be caused by both failing to drink enough water before starting your activity and/or not drinking enough water while engaging in physical activity. As dehydration can lead to muscle tightness, this could be the cause behnd your side stitch.
- Upping your activity levels too quickly can be the cause of side stitches, as the strain put on your abdominal muscles is too much for your body to handle in such a short period of time.
- Incorrect breathing is another potential cause of side stitches. If you’re taking shallow breaths while running or hiking, it could lead to excessive strain on your abdominal muscles.
Finding the Root of Side Stitch Pain
When it comes to side stitch pain, prevention is key. In order to prevent yourself from experiencing them, it’s important to drink plenty of water before and after any physical activity. Stretching before and after your activity can also help to reduce the risk of a side stitch. If you find that you’re suffering from the same pain on a regular basis, it’s likely time to visit a doctor to rule out any more serious issues.
Side stitches may seem like a mystery, but understanding the potential causes can help you to create a prevention plan. From drinking plenty of water to stretching before your workout, there are plenty of ways to avoid side stitches. As always, consulting with a medical expert is the best way to ensure you’re healthy and able to enjoy your activities pain-free.
- Tate, Jennifer. (2019). The Complete Guide to Side Stitches. Runner’s World
- Anders, Kirk. (2018). Side Stitches: Causes, Prevention and Treatment. Sports Health
- Moore, G. (2018). Side Stitches: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention. Healthline