Most of us have experienced a stitch at one time or another - that sudden pain just below the ribs that stops your workout in its tracks. But what causes it? And how can you stop it from happening?
Almost everyone has experienced a stitch at one time or another - often during school cross country runs! It is a sudden sharp pain in your side just under your ribs that forces you to slow down or even stop, often exacerbated by not warming up properly or eating too close to exercise.
But what causes a stitch? For many years there have been two main theories as to what causes a stitch. They are as follows:
When we exercise hard, the body moves blood away from our organs to the limbs. One area in particular that has a reduced blood supply is the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the stomach and abdomen from the heart and lungs. It is one of the main muscles that we use to breathe, and many scientists believe that a stitch is caused by a reduction in blood supply to the diaphragm, which causes it to cramp.
The other prevailing theory is that a stitch is caused by fluids which the body finds hard to digest. This causes the stomach to "tug" on the ligaments which connect it to the diaphragm.
Recently, however, a new theory has become accepted as the most likely cause of this painful condition.