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Question on behalf of my wife.

She's always been a sporty girl (nudge nudge wink wink for the benefit of MP fans :-) and was a county hockey (field!) player in her twenties. Slim build, 5'10".

Been running recently and wants to do a 10K at new year with me and a good friend.

She finds however that much above about 8.5kph (circa 5.3? mph) she gets stitch. It goes as soon as she has walked it off and stays below that 8.6, maybe 9kph.

any ideas why? or how to get over the problem?



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    I seem to remember that a stitch is breathing based. Is she shallow breathing or holding her breath at some point of the breath cycle?

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    FlavadaveFlavadave Posts: 749
    My first post... I've had a few problems with stitch and usually found that it happened when I changed my stride pattern either increasing or decreasing. Found this article on the t'internet which may be useful. Essentially though I think the best cure is a regime of steadily increasing the running pace over a few weeks. http://www.trainingsmartonline.com/images/Free_Triathlon_Articles/Cramps_Stitch.pdf

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    Make sure that she stretches properly before and after running, massage the affected areas if necessary to warm them up before running. Otherwise it's just a matter of your muscle groups and aerobic capacity increasingly learning to cope with the demand she's putting them under. Just make sure she doesn't try to get too fast too soon, very slow, very steady, incremental increases in speed and distance are the way to improve.
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    BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    The oft quoted figure is never increase distance by more than 10%...which I regularly ignore of course.
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    Jason NJason N Posts: 36
    I always thought a major cause of a stitch was eating too soon before exercise. During exercise, blood is diverted away from the stomach etc and towards the working muscles. A stomach that needs a good blood supply to digest food but then has its supply taken away equals cramp in that area - a stitch.

    Is this not the case then?
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    TommiTriTommiTri Posts: 879
    A stitch is actually the cramping of the diaphragm, which is why the pain is worse on deep breathing.

    There are many theories, some with more credibility than others.

    The over-arching theory is due to the ligament pull on the diaphragm by the abdominal organs, causing cramp, this can be caused/worsened by having a full stomach as it is pulling down on these ligaments. However, most people tend to get a stitch more to the right side, this is due to the pulling of the liver.

    Now, this is where it gets technical, as you breath out your diaphragm goes up, as your foot hits the floor (particularly your right) your liver goes down. So if these two things happen together you are more likely to stretch the ligaments and get a stitch.

    So, all the theories pointing to increase distance etc. may actually be more related to a more laboured breathing pattern, causing further stretch on these ligaments. In more highly trained athletes its likely these ligaments get stronger/stretcher over time, so they are less likely to get a stitch.

    If you get a stitch, stop and using your fingers press up under your ribs on the right side and relax your breathing, this should help.
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    If I get stitch I try to control it the same way as any other cramp, and that's by stretching. With a stitch I do that by breathing is a big lungful and then "pressing down" on the diaphragm with air pressure.

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    diddsdidds Posts: 655
    thanks all...

    FTR she doesn't eat beforehand, has done yoga for over a decade and has excellent core stability (her stomach is like rock!) and she does warm up well.

    We are to try the alter-the-side-she-breaths-on thing this weekend...



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    BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    So if the problem is made worse by breathing in as your foot strikes, should you share the burden by making sure that your breathing is on an odd multiple of strides? I was told I ought to do this by a fairly experienced 10k runner (about 33 mins/10km) who simply told me that you need to try to keep symmetrical without really saying why.

    Perhaps this is the explanation; if, as TommiTri says, the pull of the breath combined with the foot going down can cause the problem, then breathing on a 3 or 5 count woulde share the load.

    I started doing 3 steps in, 2 steps out. Then I changed to 2 in 3 out to try to improve my breath intake for swimming. When I get to hills I go to 1 in 2 out. After that it is completely asynchronous panting/sobbing/wondering why I do this stupid hobby. [:D]

    Don't seem to get cramp very often anymore, unless I fall back to a 2/2 breathing pattern. When I do, it is more likely to be on my left ribs, or occasionaly a sharp pain up in my left shoulder (weird?).

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