Why Do You Get Stitches During Training

Exercise | Fitness

Posted on January 12, 2016 by Jenny Cromack

A common issue for many during training is the dreaded stitch, most people will have experienced it! It’s that niggling pain in the side of the abdomen, but many people don’t know what causes it, so this article looks at why do you get stitches during training?


The main two theories seem to be:

  • Diaphragmatic ischemia and spasm: Evidence of this comes from the pain being in the side, localised, lateral and mostly sharp. Further evidence of this comes from the observation that the pain correlates with intense exercise, however as the individual becomes fitter the stitches seem to improve.
  • The second theory is thought to be attributed to the peritoneal ligaments: the evidence stems from horse riding in which, even in low intensity exercise, the stitch pain is observed. It is thought that the small jolting action may attribute to the stitch pain.

In reality stitches are poorly understood and the jury is out on why they are caused, however there are a few things you can do to reduce their effect on you:

  • Improve your fitness
  • Warm up properly during aerobic exercise
  • Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is correlated with stitches
  • Strengthen core muscles
  • Breath will full exhaustion, ie don’t take short, shallow breaths.

If the dreaded stitch occurs there isn’t much you can do apart from let time run its course until it goes. You should reduce the exercise intensity and focus on completing full breathing patterns until the stitch reduces, you can then gradually re increase exercise intensity.