Help, I’ve got a stitch!


At some point in our lives, we’ve all experienced stitch – that nonspecific, uncomfortable pain in our belly we wish would go away.

If it comes up while we’re working out, sometimes it can be so sharp it forces us to stop what we’re doing.

¿Sabes qué es el flato?

Some of the possible causes of stitch when exercising are:


1- Insufficient circulation to the diaphragm (the muscle responsible for helping us breathe)

2- Excess tension in the ligaments of the diaphragm due to the vibrations they undergo when we are running or doing some other type of physical activity.

3- Contact between the stomach, when it is full of liquid and/or food, and the peritoneum, which is the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity.


All of these possible causes are theoretical and have not been verified 100%. But there are some things you can do to relieve the pain:


1- If you experience a sharp pain in your belly while working out, stop for a few minutes to recover and breathe. If it’s a slight pain, lower the pace of your activity somewhat. The pain will probably abate and disappear.

2- Don’t work out immediately after a meal. Give your stomach time to digest it. It has been proven that gas pain appears more frequently during a workout if you have just eaten. The best thing to do is to wait at least two hours to work out after you have eaten a meal.

3- You can massage the area of the pain if it is very sharp, to relieve it somewhat.

4- Take small sips of water, but don’t load up on the H2O, because this could aggravate the situation.


Now you know a little more about stitch pain.  But bear in mind that having stitch pain is no reason to stop or avoid exercising. The pain is only temporary in all cases.

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You’ll have access to all the information for the exercises in your workout plan, and much, much more.

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  • Jerry

    I think you could also just go ahead and fart. I mean if it’s REALLY gas pain. Everything you described is obviously NOT gas pain, since it has nothing to do with gas.

    • Sportize.meAdmin

      Thank you Jerry, I requested the team to change the translation to stitch.


    Muy esclarecedor Carlos no tenia idea de como se le llamaba a ese dolor.Saludos.

  • Cristian Herbas

    Buenos consejos a tomar en cuenta, gracias

  • kirk fontaine

    I suppose we all have experienced these at some time or another during a weight training or athletic event

  • Mary Malone

    I was told that when you get a stitch in your side while swimming it was due to unequal pressure on the diaphragm. This remedy always works:
    Take a deep breath, go under water holding your nose, breathe our forcefully through pursed lips. It usually takes 4 repeats to totally eliminate the pain.

    Happy Swimming!

    • Sandra

      Thanks, Mary. That sounds so reasonable for the cause and the cure!

  • Michelle Mauerhofer

    Greetings Carlos, I’m a 46 yr old fitness tragic and exercising for around the last 23 years ! No, actually ! I am very passionate about my fitness & the fitness & well being of others. I’ve always been curious & extremely interested in why the body reacts, overreacts, under performs etc to exercising demands placed upon it. One situation while exercising is a Stitch, as you have mentioned, is this a reaction to ?? I have personally found over time that a stitch always would result from poor posture, shallow breathing, poor running technique, which may be brought on by : asking the body to perform at a higher more intense level not worked at previously OR being fatigue before you begin exercising and/or becoming fatigued during exercise which may then result in poor posture, shallow breathing, poor running technique, further fatigue, possible injury occurances or irritation of your structure that may result in a small niggle or injury further down the track. Possible dehydration along with the above mentioned senarios would possible have an influence as well. TO CORRECT A Stitch – I have always, slowed my pace, lengthened or shortened my stride depending on the surface I’m running on eg tread mill, grass, asphalt etc AND/OR placed my hand over the area “stitching” & applied pressure on the point eg lower abdomen, side torso, under your inferior medial ribcage area, etc for a small amount of time, then released the pressure as I start to feel comfortable again with my breathing etc As for my fluid intake, I generally hydrate before I exercise & don’t find it necessary during my activity, this may present different other individuals. ANOTHER point to ponder is: would pre event strecthing and warming up make a difference to an individual?? 99% I warm up/stretch before any exercise. I hope I have shared some interesting points Antonio and I hope more comes of this interesting Topic :-) Yours Sincerely, Michelle

  • Daniel Dell’Omo

    You can try taking your right hand and putting it on the spasm area and taking the other hand and massage just above either ear. I have used this to get rid of cramps and it really works.

  • Kerry

    I just have my swimmers bob up and down, feet first, in the deeper part of the pool and force the air bubbles out. Slow and deliberate seems to alleviate the stitch.

  • Todd Hageman

    In my experience the most common – but not only – cause of this pain is simple dehydration. It also occurs more in people with a lower level of fitness, and it’s frequency and severity decrease over time as the person continues to work out and becomes more fit. I have also observed that not warming up properly contributes to it’s occurence.

  • Kevin Morgan

    Hi Carlos,
    Yep, this is a pretty common problem, and it indicates insufficient conditioning generally. When I used have a stitch (diaphragmatic spasm?), touching my toes worked, but Ironman training worked even better. Just the bodies way of saying stop, I guess.
    The guy in the picture sure looks as though he is fit enough, but maybe he is strong but not conditioned for what he is attempting?
    -k @FitOldDog

  • Karen

    I’ve heard that if you flex the muscle in which the pain is occurring while you exhale, it helps a bit with relief.