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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Of Side Stitches and Six Milers

A few of you asked yesterday what causes side stitches (I'd mentioned they'd been plaguing my recent runs), and like you, I wasn't entirely sure. I was pretty sure it was from shallow breathing, and this makes sense in my case because I am still really congested from the cold I had earlier in the week. And I can tell when I run that my breathing is really affected by the congestion, and I certainly haven't felt as though I have been able to draw really effective, deep breaths while I run.

Anyway, that was my personal conclusion this morning when I ran my 6 miler and again was plagued by side stitches in miles 2-3. I ran through them, as I did in the previous days, and I tried to just focus on slowing down, breathing as deeply and evenly as possible, and I was able to run through the discomfort and finish my full 6 miles. Still, they were slow miles.

For me, this kind of congestion almost always follows even a mild cold, like the one I had earlier in the week. I may only be sick for a day or two, but then, typically, I have massive mucus for a week or two following. I always figure I just have to allow it to run it's course, but perhaps I should be taking something to help thin the mucus -- anyone ever used products like Mussinex? If so, helpful?

Anyhoo...back to my theory on side stitches...so, after my run, I investigated side stitches as any self-respecting academic would: I Googled it. Turns out, my theory was correct! Side stitches while running typically are caused by shallow breathing because side stitches are the result of spasmed contractions of the diaphram. So, to avoid them, you should always aim to breath deeply and evenly while running -- which I do. When I don't have a head full of boogers.

11 comments:

d.a.r. said...

Love love love mucinex. I have had chronic sinusitis since I was in my early teens and had to have sinus surgery in high school (apparently a tiny nose is not conducive to good drainage?). I was on mucinex daily back when it only came in prescription form. It seriously is amazing. The only thing I will caution you on is that you can get incredibly dehydrated while taking it, so drink a TON of water!

Mark H. said...

Re: side stitches. I was told this 'cure' but I almost never have side stitches so I personally don't know if it works. Try this - take your arm on the side that hurts and put it behind your lower back. It should make them go away sooner than if you did nothing. I have seen it work in others so I'm not just saying this to make you look like a dork.

Katie A. said...

Ugh! Way to power through though! Side stiches, I've heard, can also be an effect of what you might have consumed before the run. Either liquid or food wise. Watching what you eat or drink before hand can help. And just like Mark, stopping and pressing in on the area while taking deep breaths through the nose and out the mouth eases them quicker.
Good luck! Loved the Nora pics ;)

TNTcoach Ken said...

Aha, Jess is Booger Head...........

MCM Mama said...

Interesting. Thanks for googling for us. ;o)

bethy said...

I second d.a.r. I am an huge fan, I have lots of sinus issues and asthma! I always take mucinex with upper-respiratory issues and it is great...I also second the water intake increase, helps thin that junk out too.

Hope you are all better quick!!

Mandy said...

I took Musinex a few years ago for a really bad cold. I took it in the morning before school and about an hour later I passed out. I have a very low tolerance for medicines though so it might just be me. I've heard other people rave about it, so I don't know

runner26 said...

I've always just tried to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth when experiencing a side stitch. It seems to help but it's probably also because I'm breathing deeper and calmer.

Nice racing plans for the fall!! All good choices.

Nicole said...

Good luck with the side stitches. Someone once told me that if you exhale when the opposite side foot plants it helps them go away. I don't know if that actually works though.

Anyway...
I knew you lived in FL but didn't know where. I'm bummed we can't have a meetup, but if you have any suggestions on good vegetarian restaurants or things we should do with W let us know. The trip is kind of spare of the moment and we have 0 plans other than sit at the beach. Oh, my husband wants to know if there is anyplace to snorkel. Thanks.

hefloats.com said...

Hi! I found your blog when I googled running blogs! I used to be completely plagued with side-stitches as well, and I agree, slowing down and breathing deeply definitely gets rid of it. Once I have side stitches and they disappear, they're usually gone for the rest of my run. I typically also get stitches if I've eaten anything (not like fruit or goo, but heavier foods) before or during a long run.

Her Name is Rio said...

Ugh..mucous be gone! For me, Mucinex often helps thin out mucous and Actifed/Sudafed (the stuff with pseudoephedrine) helps congestion.

About your question about humidity: Usually humidity is closer to 30% around here , but gets higher during Monsoon season (which is now). So I'm a humidity wimp!