So as you’all know I’ve been training for months now and lately I’ve been struggling with motivation so I’ve been trying to get back into the swing and have been taking it kind of easy. I’ve been doing really great, not total bad leg pains just enough to know I’m working… really nothing to write home about.
However, 3 days ago I started out on my walk and about half way through my 5 minute warm up I started getting this pain in my rib cage on the right side. I haven’t felt this pain in FOREVER! I was thinking WTH?! I pushed through it and by the end of my walk I was still feeling it but nearly as bad. When I returned home my husband asked me how my walk was and I said it was fine but I had this pain and wasn’t sure what it was, that I hadn’t felt it since I was running the mile in high school. I had remembered hearing things like it was because of dehydration or simply being ‘out-of -shape’ but I thought both things weren’t really applicable at this point. So I decided to look into it, research wise and see what others might have to say about it and I found out some interesting facts.
First that it’s called a ‘side stitch’ or an ‘ETAP’ which is an acronym for Exercise Related Transient Abdominal Pain & not till recently there wasn’t any true reasoning for the pain. It is not considered a true sports injury but 70% of runners suffer from them from time to time. So, what is this pesky pain??
Some researchers believe it’s just due to lack of stretching properly, especially the ligaments from the diaphragm that extend towards the liver & internal organs. The moving motion of running and deeply breathing use these muscles more than normal. While most people exhale when the left foot touches the ground every 2-4 steps however some people exhale while the right foot strikes the ground. The group of people who exhale when the right foot touches the ground are prone to having these side stitches more often, mostly because there is larger or greater force on the liver which is one the right side below the ribcage. So basically as your right foot hits the ground your liver is moving down as you are exhaling which brings your rib cage up for exhalation thus stretching these muscles more than normal. It is believed that this repeated stretch is what causes this terrible pain. This to me was the most logical that I read about however I have read so many other theories about different things so much so that your back is out of line, or your simply dehydrated.
I don’t believe that anyone person knows for sure but the above theory made A LOT of sense to me simply because it feels like a stretching muscle kind of pain. So, I started walking the next day and that pesky pain returned so I was careful to follow my breathing with the strike of my left foot rather than my right and 5 steps down the road and the pain went away. I had to alter my breathing for a moment to get to the right groove but that pain never returned the rest of my walk. In the future it might be dehydration or my back might be out of line however, I’m gonna try to watch my breathing and see if it makes a difference first. This article I read had a lot of different preventative measures as well as measure to make the pain stop. You can read about them here: A Pain in My Side!