Lynn Kanuka Blogs on “Stitches”

“Stitches” are very common, and some walkers and runners are more predisposed to them than others.  It’s usually a spasm of the inter-costal (breathing) muscles, and most often the result of an inadequate warm-up. These muscle spasms can be easily avoided with a thorough dynamic warm up and some specific torso stretches.

One suggestion is to intersperse exaggerated breathing with big dynamic stretchessuch as: waist and hip circles and bend forward and reach out with your arms to the right, left, forward and upwards. 

When it happens, it is very uncomfortable.  You need to take a deep breath, and (do your best to) suck your tummy in, place the index and middle fingers directly on the spasm and apply direct pressure.  You can usually continue to walk or run but it’s likely that you will have to reduce the pace until the spasm subsides. When it’s really bad, you might need to stop and rest for a few minutes. If the spasm increases, lie down on your back and elevate the legs. Rest them against a fence or a tree and continue to apply direct pressure to the spasm area. Eventually the pain will decrease and you will be able to resume your workout.  Again, warming up properly is especially key for those of you that seem to get these stitches regularly.

*Another reason can be that you are simply moving at a pace that your body is not ready for…so slow down!

Lynn Kanuka

SportMedBC’s RunWalk Coach

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